Disclaimer: This work is based on true story of my life but some events have been modified. All characters appearing in this work are real! Any resemblance to fictional persons, living or dead, is purely intentional!
November 12, 2014 – a usual day in my life until the late afternoon when I got the news. I was informed that it was my last day with the company. I was not expecting it – not because things were great but I had never thought it would happen to me, so soon. The company, like others, was not in good shape and sadly this was the way forward.
It was an unpleasant surprise. After hearing the news I was in a state of anxiety about my future. The time had stopped moving and the world had come to a halt. Remember those slow-moving scenes from the movies. Often the director would create such scenes to accentuate the action in the movie. For me, it was a moment of nihilism like in those nightmares where you are putting all your strength to run away yet you are lying there motionless. I still vividly remember, in the tiny room, my manager was informing me about the exit clearance and other details. My mind was flooded with so many thoughts just like a tsunami through a bathroom tap. But I could barely speak anything. All I remember is his last words – “Hang in there!”. These words as if uttered by a clairvoyance kept ringing in my ears. It was like the deep voice heard in background of a movie scene where the protagonist was in deep contemplation. Interestingly, this phrase was also one of the concluding lines in the email replies of many a people whom I had reached out for help. Alas, I am still hearing it.
In this post, I am going to talk about how to “hang in there” after you’ve lost your job. This is something that I gathered talking to many of my mentors, friends and well-wishers. Some of them have faced this many a times and gained these insights through hard lessons. This post will tell you how not to give up on your quest for next job. It is not about how to find a job or how to build your profile or network with people. There is no dearth of such publications by professionals and amateurs from different walks of life. Let’s face it, finding a new job (once you’re unemployed) is a painful process. This post will not eliminate the pain but it will help you overcome it. These 3 points are easy to remember too – just pick the first letter of each word for abbreviation!
First of all, you have to accept that fact – yes you have lost your job. Perhaps, it is the worst thing that could have happened to you. Although it did happen, it is not end of the world. Naturally, we would tend to compare ourselves against those who survived such troubled times. Often we may wonder about our worth – “why me and not him?” Generally, I tend to find the root cause behind the problems so as to improve. I had similar questions flickering through my mind day-in-day-out. Till date, I have not found the answer to many a questions. There are always more questions than answers and it is better they are left unanswered. Fact is, in today’s time, many a companies are making such hard decision – sometimes rationale, sometimes not. If it’s of any help then think about Steve Jobs!
Most importantly, you need to bear in mind that loosing a job is not a reflection of your capability or character. An exception to this is that you were fired because of lack of performance or character. Few examples, you purposely inserted wrong maps of Middle East in the presentation for your American boss or increased the font size for your Chinese boss or introducing your Indian colleague as an IT professional. In either case you need take a step back, reflect upon your actions and improve. Think of it like an end for a new beginning.
Acceptance is “the most important” step. If you have conquered it, rest everything will fall into place like a piece of cake.
Now that you have accepted that you
are guilty (those who fall under the exception examples) – I meant you have come to terms with reality, you need to think about the strategy before jumping on the bandwagon of finding a job. If you find the next job soon – great! You have hit the jackpot. “You son of a gun, you did it!” If no, I would strongly encourage you to continue reading.
You will need to plan how much time do you have before you’re financially broken – a more euphemistic economic term would be ‘break-even point’. By calculating (literally doing the math) you should have the time frame in days or months. This is the total time frame of your job-hunt – within which you need to find another job. If things are not very promising, you might may want to mend relationship with your ex-gf/ bf, parents and even your close family members. If you’re very desperate (and lack the willpower to work hard) you may even go-ahead to propose that rich (not-so-good-looking) schoolmate of yours and keep fingers crossed!
On a serious note, depending on the time-frame, you need to think about key criteria – decisions such as whether you’re willing to relocate, take up any role/ position/ industry or be very particular, engage in part-time/ contractual/ permanent jobs and most importantly compromise on compensation/ benefits for next role. This isn’t an exhaustive list but more of an illustrative list of factors. It is basically thinking about the factors which would influence your decision about a job in short-term to long-term. It would differ for each person – a person working overseas would need to think short-term depending on work visa versus a person working in home country. The idea is identify how long can you financially and mentally afford to remain unemployed.
Once you are clear about your priorities, you can then plan your road-map – which roles/ industry/ jobs/ geographies to target. Finally, moving to the last point.
The last bit is to supplement your day. Being unemployed also means that you will now have lots of free time available. After many a days, things will become mundane. An hour in day will feel like an eon. On the very first day, you will be tempted to go hit the “search & apply” button for any job posting you would come across. Don’t do that. It will work for first few days since you could be spending hours before your laptop clicking and applying for any jobs. Subsequently, you will become impatient if the applications don’t result in interviews. It will add to your frustration. So, you need to be pragmatic and plan for your time – obviously focusing mainly on the job search but supplemented by other activities. Ironically, this could be the golden opportunity that you might not get again in life! Cherish it.
Remember those days when you’re busy slogging at work and always cribbed for lack of time to pursue your passions and interests. Well, now is the time for you to revive those interests and even explore new, if none existed. Also the reason why I am now active on blogging. That said, it doesn’t mean you start ticking-off your bucket list such as buying a yacht, road-trip to Europe, stock invest when you are clueless. It only means being realistic that finding another job might take some time (hopefully within your time frame) and while you’re focusing your time on the most important task – finding a job – you’re also living your life.
Do plan time-slots for your interests and passions in your daily schedule. Such supplementary activities will take the stress off of the pursuit of new job. It would rather help you to be focused yet patient to follow the right approach. It will reflect in your interviews and meeting with potential employers for being calm and confident instead of being desperate and nervous.
That is all there is to know how to “hang in there!” . First acceptance – don’t dwell in the past for too long; it is not the past but in the future that you will conquer your goals. Second, strategy – find your bearings, plan your action and stick to it. All efforts will be in vain without any direction. Last, don’t forget to live the life – not only for yourself but also for those around you. Like I said earlier just take the first letter of each word – Acceptance, Strategy, Supplement – it is so easy to remember! You may have your own ideas about how to go about “hang in there!” – I would love to hear from you if these ideas resonate with yours or if you have your own ideas to share. I understand if you have not faced it – I hope you never have to! For others, I wish you the best of luck for your endeavors!