11 Ways to Bounce Back from Job Loss in 2020

Here’s our best advice for recovering after a job loss.
Last updated Aug 12, 2020 | By Larissa Runkle
Sad businesswoman

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Even if COVID-19 didn’t physically affect your family, the resulting recession probably did. In the past few months, millions of people have lost their jobs and struggled to get by between paychecks. A recession is tough on everyone, but especially when your income is negatively impacted.

But even if the past few months haven’t been your best financially (or otherwise, let’s be honest), there are still ways to bounce back. Here are 11 things to do if you’ve been laid off that will help you bounce back.

11 ways to bounce back from job loss

1. Apply for unemployment

No matter how you feel about unemployment, or how temporarily you hope to be without work — if you qualify for unemployment, apply for it. Under the CARES Act, more people than ever before are qualifying for unemployment benefits and other forms of assistance. Unemployment benefits provide a steady source of income to survive a short-term money crunch, and it might just be the difference between keeping on top of expenses or digging into your savings to get by. Like all things government-regulated, unemployment takes a while to kick in, which means you’ll want to apply for unemployment as soon as you can.

2. Grieve the loss

Going from working a regular job with reliable paychecks to being furloughed or laid off is a huge change, and you should give yourself time to grieve the loss. Losing a steady source of income not only sets you back financially, but it also causes a lot of stress and uncertainty for the future. Don’t be surprised if the first few days after losing your job feel a lot like one of your worst breakups — because, in some ways, it kind of is. Give yourself time to adjust to this big change, then you’ll be better prepared to gear up for what comes next.

3. Shift your mindset

After you’ve had time to adjust, get ready to shift your mindset. No matter how hard it feels, try to adopt an I can handle this attitude. Rather than dwelling on all the negatives of losing a job, start making a list of things you can do now to secure your financial future. Coming up with action items will not only help you move past the grief of job loss, but it will also empower you to keep working toward new opportunities.

4. Network, and then network some more

Never underestimate the power of your network. Whether you’re distantly connected to a few C-suite execs at your dream company or have a friend who just landed a new job — your network is your best resource when it comes to finding new opportunities. Text or email your former colleagues to see what they’re up to; make new connections on LinkedIn; and even browse your favorite networking Facebook groups to see if anyone is hiring. Having a friend or even just an interest in common will give you a leg up on the competition when it comes to hiring, so keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities your network is putting forth.

5. Audit your skills

There’s never a better time to audit your skill set than when you’re in between jobs. Know something you could learn that would make you a better candidate for your next role? Now might be the perfect time to brush up on the skills you need to be a more competitive applicant. Look at your past experience and find any gaps that can be filled or creative ways to use those experiences in future roles. Once you start looking at your resume with the eyes of a hiring manager, you’ll be able to make the types of improvements that really count. The good news? Several sites offer free online education, so you may be able to address any skills gaps at no cost.

6. Improve your resume

Speaking of your resume, now’s also a great time to make sure yours is looking its best. Past job experience means nothing if you don’t have the means to properly communicate it to your future hiring managers. Take some time to review your resume and update it according to best practices. Make sure it’s easy to read, and on par with the expectations of your field. Depending on the types of roles you’re interested in, consider customizing your resume to better fit different job applications — with all the most relevant information clearly legible at the top.

7. Customize your cover letters

Customization isn’t just for resumes; it’s also essential when drafting your cover letters. Much like any other type of letter or email, be sure your cover letters are personally crafted for every hiring manager or recruiter you contact. Include things like why you’re qualified for the job, your relevant experiences, and if it makes sense, links to your portfolio. Generic cover letters are like spam emails, and more often than not, they just end up unread and in the trash.

8. Set a schedule

Although it might be tempting to use this time as an impromptu vacation, don’t. Set a schedule you can stick to that includes daily time slots for things like job applications, networking, and drafting up those cover letters. Job search and inquiries (when done well) can take time, so be sure that whatever else your day includes, you’re prioritizing finding new work.

9. Think outside the box

Be confident when looking for new roles, and apply for things even if you don’t think you’re 100% qualified. Most jobs involve some level of training, meaning you might be perfectly able to do them even if some of the required skills seem outside your wheelhouse. When speaking with recruiters and hiring managers, focus on highlighting the relevant skills you have and emphasize your willingness to learn. Often, solid work history and good attitude is all it takes to convince someone you’re up to the task of learning and thriving in a new role.

10. Embrace rejection

Rejection is part of the game when it comes to finding a new job, and you’d be considered very lucky if you didn’t experience at least some instances of rejection in your job search. That said, applying for jobs is also a skill. Try to think of every application and interview as a learning opportunity, and take note of the things you can do better next time. Often, successfully applying for jobs is simply a matter of how you present yourself. Refine your search and application process as you go, and you’ll also start getting more callbacks and fewer rejection emails.

11. Keep your eye on the prize

No one ever said applying for jobs is easy, and it’s normal to feel discouraged. The important thing when searching for new jobs is to keep your eye on the prize. Keep looking, networking, and staying positive. Take breaks and talk to friends who have (or are currently) going through the same thing. The right job will come eventually, and you’ll be better prepared to handle any future unemployment as a result of this experience. Remember, the job search is a skill. Refine yours and keep your head up.