Losing a job is stressful and disorienting. It takes a good support system to get through those early days when the loss is still shocking and new. Once you’ve worked through some of that initial pain and you’re ready to focus on your next steps, know that while this is a loss, on one hand, it’s also a new beginning.
It may not feel like it at the moment, but getting dislodged from your job can be a catalyst for career reinvention. It forces you to look at the role you were in and to ask yourself important questions. An unexpected job loss kicks you out of your comfort zone and forces you to move in a new direction, perhaps inviting new risks that might have seemed too intimidating when you were in a comfortable seat. Trust yourself as you grapple with the worries and fears that this professional overhaul invites.
What you’re experiencing happens to most professionals at some point in their careers. These challenges don’t have to devour us, they can define us and reset us on a new and better course.
Asking big questions.
When we find a role that is a comfortable fit, we often hold onto that job even as we calculate the things about it that are ill-fitting: I’m not learning much from my manager. I could do this job in my sleep. There are no opportunities for advancement here.
We appreciate those benefits that our comfort zone afforded us-security, a sense of routine, a network of trusted colleagues. But we are ever-evolving creatures, and comfort loses its appeal as we search for what challenges we can handle next. There’s often that nagging feeling that we could exchange the warm of security for a risk that could advance us further: I’d love to pursue a role at my dream company. I think I would be a great manager. I wonder if I could make it as a freelancer or a consultant.
But it’s hard to shake up your life and take a big risk when you’re comfortably situated. Losing that comfort zone is disconcerting, but it gives you the desperation, grit, and wherewithal of a survivor. Use that awareness and focus to your advantage.
Work that network.
Lean into your network during this time. If you have reservations about this, if networking makes you feel uncomfortable, challenge that. Remember: everyone in your network does this. This is how the professional world works. You’re not asking for favors. When you’re in a position to help this same network of contacts, you’ll do it. Now you’re on the asking side.
Call on your contacts, and use your network to help you shape your search. Your colleagues, former colleagues, and contacts stand to be especially helpful, knowing that the current market is in flux because of the pandemic.
Getting comfortable taking risks is important for your right now. It stands to be a key bi-product that you get to add to your skillset-a takeaway from weathering this difficult time. Starting with your network is a good exercise in risk-taking. Your network is a safe audience, and you stand to get support, help, and information from them.
Think about people with whom you’ve done work, whose employers or roles you thought look appealing. Ask about their experience and their work as you consider your next moves. Your network is powerful. Use it well.
Refine your brand.
When we’re happily ensconced in a role, we may lose track of the importance of keeping our materials fresh, updated, and ready for action. Your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile, social media presence, and any published works that you’ve written or in which you’ve been quoted comprise your professional brand. Refining your brand for your search can prove a helpful exercise. It can build your confidence, refine your focus, and give you the chance to imagine new possibilities.
“As you move through your career, your personal brand should change depending on where you are headed in the future. If you have pivoted to a new function, elevated to a new professional level, or refocused on new initiatives, it may be time to re-evaluate your brand and update it to match the professional you are today.” Debra Boggs, Executive Resume Writer, Job Search Coach, and Co-founder of D&S Professional Coaching explains.
Doing this work can help you to see where you’ve been in your career, and what you’re ready for next. It’s important, as it refines your materials for your search, and it also gives you a change to do some soul searching that can aid your transition. “Your professional brand can help recruiters and headhunters understand what types of roles you would be the best fit for, so it’s important that the
brand you have created is up to date and accurately reflects your future
goals as well.” Boggs shares.
Discomfort seeds reinvention.
While it is difficult to find ourselves in these challenging positions, it also stands to make us strong, focused, persistent, and brave. It gives us the guts to take on risks that we might have shied away from when we were more comfortably situated. Your next great role is out there. Keep fighting for it.