When people think about who they are, naturally the first thing they think about is their job. This stands to reason since it comprises the majority of a person’s idea of self. If you don’t believe me, think about what you ask someone right after you meet them for the first time and learn their name. Chances are you ask them what they do for a living. Or, think about any application you have ever filled out (credit card, home loan, rewards card, etc.). Once again, the old job category is there staring up at you waiting to be filled out, helping to define who you are. You see, society has institutionalized the way we think about our jobs and ourselves because it has intrinsically linked the two together.

So is it any wonder why it comes as such a shock to our system when we loose our job?

Here are a few things you can do to lessen that shock when it happens to you:

  1. Update your resume before you’re fired. Current studies show that a person will change jobs an average of 4 to 5 times during his or her career. And odds are that at least one of those times will be involuntarily. So let this fact empower you to take action now in order to be prepared for when it eventually happens to you. One way is to keep a small journal logging in all of your accomplishments as they happen. Then, periodically update your resume so it’s up to date and ready to go when D-Day comes your way.
  2. Network early and often. This has almost become cliché, but it still holds true. You owe it to yourself to purposefully take time to build and address your network regularly while you are still employed. The good news is that there are a ton of free resources out there to help you with this. Don’t be that guy or girl that nobody hears from until you need a job. Networking is about paying it forward, not cashing a check.
  3. Take time to grieve. Losing your job is a lot like losing a loved one. It is a huge part of who you are and losing it takes time with which to come to terms. Realize that you are not alone as this happens to the best of us (by which of course I mean me). No matter who you are or where you come from, it will take some time to get over the self-doubt, second-guessing, and overall scummy feeling of being let go. Not to mention the anger. So watch some old movies, listen to David Allan Coe, hug the family and be right as rain in a day or two!
  4. Check your finances. This step is easily overlooked and often put off by many. People just get used to a constant flow of money and don’t want to think about what happens when it gets shut off. Or they will do it tomorrow. So put money aside now. Theoretically speaking, it’s important to remember that the more you make, the longer it takes to find a job. So save accordingly. The old measure of having 3 to 6 months set aside is still a good rule of thumb for most.
  5. Stay positive. You will find another job. That’s not the question. The only question really is when. Plus there is an upside. Most surveys show that people who lose their jobs wind up somewhere better anyway. Just be careful not to equate better with more money. That’s an easy trap to fall into. Don’t let a lesser salary keep you from a possible great opportunity. It might help to remember that anything north of zero is on the positive side for you at this point.

If you follow the above steps and stay realistic with your expectations, I promise you will find another job sooner rather than later. And you’ll probably be happier about it too!

Dr. Wheeler Pulliam

With over 20 years of industry experience, Dr. Wheeler Pulliam serves as a financial advisor helping people achieve a healthy work-life balance through proper financial planning. Born and raised...