Career experts agree: There is often nothing more crushing to your career confidence than losing a job. “I’ve yet to meet a person who loses their job and instantly feels excellent,” says millennial career coach Jill Jacinto. The initial shock of the loss can turn into serious self-doubt, she says, as you scramble to understand why you were let go and what you will do in the future.
What’s more, “most people tend to measure their worth and success by their job,” says career coach Hallie Crawford. That isn’t always a bad thing, she says. Crawford says people who gauge their self-worth based on employment may question that worth when they lose their jobs.
“Many times, losing a job isn’t personal, but we take it personally,” Crawford adds.
And yet, while it’s understandable why losing your job could make you lose a little confidence, experts agree it’s imperative to build your confidence back up ASAP. “Confidence is the key to finding a new job,” Jacinto says. Confidence will help you throughout your job search as you identify your dream jobs and revise your resume. It will also help you during any interviews. Hiring managers will notice a lack of confidence, Crawford warns: “You won’t sell yourself well, you’ll be more nervous, and even if you do get the job, you won’t perform as well.”
If you’ve lost a job — and your confidence — here’s how you can build it back up.
Put together a portfolio of progress.
Both Jacinto and Crawford recommend that their clients keep an up-to-date log of their work and accomplishments, including any praise they’ve received from their employers and colleagues. If you’ve never compiled such a portfolio, now is the time to do it. Once it’s completed — or if you already have one — sit down to “review that document and remember what you have done well over the past year,” Crawford says. “Reflecting on these things will help to rebuild confidence.”
Find (or become) a mentor.
After a job loss, it’s OK to turn to others for help. “Talk to a close friend, mentor, or career coach,” says Crawford. “It’s valuable to speak to someone who knows you well if you are feeling vulnerable due to losing your job. They can help you put things into perspective and help you put your feelings into words.” A mentor or career coach can also help you discover strengths that you may not have realized you had, Crawford adds, and help you figure out how to harness them.
Or, consider mentoring someone yourself. While it may seem counterintuitive to help others with their careers after a job loss, being a mentor can “instill confidence and self-esteem,” explains Jacinto. “Helping someone who might be just starting their career will remind you of all the great work you have done along the way.” Plus, she adds, as a mentor, “you’ll be able to see your worth with new appreciation as you help to fast track someone else’s career.”
Gather up recommendations.
Is there a better confidence boost than hearing others sing your praises? Jacinto and Crawford recommend tapping your network for recommendations you can use to build your confidence and in your job search. “I’d advise reaching out to several people across your LinkedIn network who can vouch for your skills and hard work,” says Jacinto. “Connect with a former boss who can speak to your project management skills, a junior team member who can highlight your leadership ability or a client who can talk to your strategy work.” Their kind words will “help remind you of all the great work and respect you have garnered along the way,” Jacinto explains.
Crawford says you can also ask your former boss for a recommendation letter to use in your job search. Not only will that help land a new job, “you may be surprised to learn what your previous employer valued about you, which also builds up confidence,” Crawford says.
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