Losing your job can be life-changing. If you're lucky, you've seen it coming and have been able to take advantage of the extended career break to plan out your next move. However, losing a job (through COVID or otherwise) may have come as a real shock. It can be derailing. No longer are you financially stable, and it can feel like you've lost control of your life.
Finding yourself suddenly out of work at any age can be terrifying. By mid-career, you probably have significant financial and family commitments so having a regular income stream is paramount. Trying to get back into work may also be harder than it was before. Typically, you've probably looked for work in the past while you were still employed. But COVID has changed things for everyone around the world. Lockdowns have forced many businesses to reduce staff or even temporarily close. There isn't a job to fall back on if your industry is struggling/not hiring or there's an oversupply of out-of-work candidates. It's not a good feeling when someone else is holding (and dealing) all the cards.
So, where do you start with reinventing yourself when you've lost your job? Firstly, don't take it personally. There's no shame in being out of work or in-between jobs. COVID has caught everyone off guard. When profits are down, business owners must make tough business decisions so that the company can survive. It sucks, but you're certainly not alone. Secondly, open up to your family and friends. Tell them how you're feeling. Again, don't feel ashamed and if you're not coping, let someone know. Speak to your GP if you feel unable to move forward.
"There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind" – C.S. Lewis.
When you're ready to start looking for work again, re-connect with your networks. Reach out to former business contacts, recruiters, ex-clients, and competitors (if legally you're allowed to) to let them know you're in the market for a new job. Please don't be embarrassed to tell them you've been out of work. It happens, and you need to accept it and move on.
Update your resume and refresh your LinkedIn profile. Think about companies you would like to work for and approach them directly via their HR or internal recruitment team. 80% of opportunities don't get advertised online, and you might just be making contact at the perfect time and lockdowns ease and businesses start thinking about hiring again.
Back to recruiters - you may not have a lot of respect for them, but when you find a good (and well-connected one), they're an invaluable resource. They can give you advice on how to improve your resume, insider info on what's happening right now in your industry, details on networking groups that you should connect with, and intros to key people in their network. The dodgy ones will use you for a quick placement fee, so be careful if they want to put you forward to jobs that aren't a good match for you. Great recruiters are more interested in building a long-term relationship with you which means they will be willing to give more than they expect to get back. These recruiters are few and far between, of course - but they're around.
Once you're able to accept and move past the initial shock of losing your job, you'll be ready to take the first steps to career reinvention and creating a brand new and exciting future. Again, surround yourself with positive people and try to stay focused on your end goal.