How to restore and grow your career after getting laid off or fired

If there is one thing that has hit modern professionals recently, it’s the risk of getting laid off and the realization that their jobs are not safe anymore.

As mentioned in this recent Quartz article, Indian IT companies laid off 56,000 employees in 2017 alone. And given the recent downturn in non-IT sectors (after demonetization and GST), this number would likely exceed 500,000 across the entire economy.

As a young nation that has only seen consistent job and economy growth, job losses are a hard jolt. From a personal, financial or social standpoint, we haven’t been mature enough to handle them. We all need mental conditioning for this new reality. We had written a post a while ago that describes what to do immediately after getting laid off.

Once the dust has settled down and you start finding your next job, there are somethings we thought you should know. This article focuses on those important things.

Before you apply for jobs

As soon as people face a job loss, their first reflex action is to broadcast their resumes to their friends, their ex-colleagues and on job applications.

This may be a big mistake. Today, every job, every company needs a more personalized approach from your cover letter to your resume, from your initial pitch to detailed interviews, you need to get the entire story right. Remember — you mostly only have just one shot at each company — make the most of it.

The best way is to make a list of the companies in your space and try to find if you know someone there. Try to understand their work context and research their online presence. Then customize your resume to better suit the role. Use optimum keywords and mention any measurable metrics that you may have achieved (for instance, your SEO content may have increased the site traffic 150%).

Explaining your job loss

Many companies will ask you about it, so think this one through. Lying or hiding facts is not advisable. More and more companies today understand that even good employees can be laid off.

Have a simple statement and stick to it. Don’t try to over-explain or bad mouth the company or your boss. It doesn’t help anyone.

Don’t waste all your time in hunting for jobs

The thing about job applications and interviews is that they can quickly consume all your time. There are always more job sites to apply for jobs, more LinkedIn feeds to catch up on and more emails to send.

Spending all your day on just job search can be damaging. Why?

  • Sitting idle creates a gap in your resume. The more the gap, the more explaining you will need to do and the more desperate you will likely become
  • Your learning is paused. Whether it’s acquiring a new skill or losing a known weakness, you can use the time to make you sharper and more valuable in the job market.
  • Sitting idle changes your routine. The change in social and personal dynamics sometimes have negative effects on some people.

So what can you do? There are many possibilities to learn and keep yourself energetic. Try to find a part-time or freelancing opportunity or offer to add value to local NGOs or start-ups. If there is a new skill that you need to learn, now is a good time to try sites like Coursera or Udemy. There are tonnes of YouTube videos too.

Just keep learning and keep your resume ticking.

Don’t be afraid of exploring new career opportunities

Losing a job can feel terrible, but can be a golden opportunity to reboot yourself. After a long time, perhaps you have nothing to lose. A good example is Mark Cuban, from Shark Tank, who lost his job as a salesman at a computer store. That was the last time he worked for someone else.

Use this unexpected break to pause and think about what you actually want to accomplish in life. Not everyone has the luxury to press the reset button, so use this golden period to re-connect with your passion. You could go for a course, certification, switch your career or maybe start your own business!

Don’t make salary an ego issue

As I said earlier, as Indians we have been conditioned to see things moving only in one direction. Whether it’s prices or salaries — we expect them to move up — all the time.

But that’s no longer true. Just like the prices of gold and real estate dropped in recent years, we need to accept that our salaries are no different. They follow the same demand-supply curve and can go up/down based on the law of economics.

Saying no to job offers that offer great learning and career growth because they pay you little less than your previous job is not prudent. On the other hand, accepting a job that protects your salary but offers limited growth opportunities is detrimental in the longer run.

Don’t let the family pressure or peer pressure get you. Ask yourself — do you want to win a small battle and lose a bigger war over your entire career?

Conclusion

Getting laid off is challenging. But here is the truth — we can no longer wish it away. As our economy becomes bigger and more globalized, our jobs will follow the law of economics.

It’s better to be prepared. Invest in your learning and growth. Put away some savings to survive in these tough situations.

And if you get caught up in a job-loss situation, don’t worry. It will be okay. Just keep your cool and follow the tips mentioned in this article.

Have a point to add/modify? Please let me know in comments!

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