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Sudden Job Loss? Tips to Get Back on the Career Ladder

Let's be honest, losing your job is almost always a negative experience, whether it was your choice to leave or not. You may go through feelings of insecurity, embarrassment, inadequacy or incompetence.


Nonetheless, this doesn’t have to be the end of your career. On the contrary, if you perceive this incident from a broader perspective, you come to realize one thing.


Success in life isn’t all about the opportunities we get. It’s also about the way in which we choose to respond to life’s challenges and setbacks–such as losing a job. So, how do you get back on the career ladder? Follow these steps.


Embrace a Positive Mindset

After losing a job, you may be prone to start criticizing yourself. This will only keep you down. Promoting a positive mindset is crucial if you want to get back on the career ladder. Stop thinking about the unexpectedness of the event, how poorly it was handled, and the things you could have done to prevent it.


Just aim at accepting the situation by acknowledging these steps. As soon as you’re cool with it, you’ll be able to proceed to the next phase of your career. You should always counteract your negative emotions with positive, powerful affirmations.


Take That Step:

Go revisit the original job description of your previous role and make note of all the responsibilities that were advertised. You probably accomplished most of those. Now go one step further and note down at least one accomplishment for each of those responsibilities.


  • Let's say you worked in HR and had to develop training guides for new employees.
  • Responsibility - Create new training materials for new recruits to the organization
  • Achievement - Developed 3 new training manuals within 6 months used by over 1500+ new and existing employees

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, especially in career transition. So use it!


Create a Job Search Scheme

Once you have reached the right mindset, you can get things moving by making a plan. First, break big objectives into smaller goals. This will make everything more manageable.


Start by working on your resume and your cover letter. These resume samples can provide you ideas on the types of responsibilities involved in different industries. It's also easy to neglect writing a cover letter, but a cover letter can help you stand out from the crowd. These cover letter examples may help you. Use appealing descriptions, devise compelling job proposals and work on your interview skills. In other words, concentrate on highlighting your qualities, as opposed to letting the previous position do all the talking.


Don’t get stuck in one place. Be open to change and stay informed.


Take That Step:

Have a good think about the types of jobs and/or career you want to move into next. Just a few things to consider:


  • How far are you willing to travel to work?
  • Are you willing to take a pay cut for other benefits?
  • Which type of organizational culture would you prefer?

Network, Network, Network

Networking means much more than meeting people. Networking is about using every connection you have, and making the most out of it. Make sure you spread the word out there that you’re looking for a new position: who knows what might happen?


You should be aware that many stellar job positions are never actually advertised. That’s what makes networking quintessential. Making valuable connections in your chosen field is a habit you should embrace.


Contrary to popular belief, networking isn’t about aggressively promoting yourself. It's about “building” and then “nurturing” connections.


Take That Step:

There are many ways to network both online and offline. One of the best ways moving forward to is to leverage your own personal network first. Consider connecting with old work colleagues and find out where they are now, ask them for references and pick their brains about how they got into the position they are in now. Just be sure to be sincere!


Upgrade Your Skills

If you want to advance up the career ladder, it makes sense to upgrade your skills, right? With the dynamism of many industries, your priority should be to fill in any skill gaps. Things are continually on the move, and working on enhancing your skills is a necessity; especially if you wish to develop professionally.


For instance, even the most mundane of industries use computer software applications that are continually upgraded. So, if you’re not acquainted with the way in which everything works, your skills could become obsolete.


On that note, you should take advantage of your current state of unemployment and use this time to sharpen your existing skills, or perhaps gain new ones. This will considerably boost your marketability, providing you with various career choices.


Take That Step:

You shouldn’t undermine the competitive nature of the job market. So, make sure you take courses at accredited learning institutions so that you advance in your career. First inquire at your local employment office if they offer subsidies for specific courses, you'll never know until you ask.


Keep this in mind: don’t give up and don’t despair. You can get back in the game, and obtain a better position. Losing your job isn’t the end of the world. Get rid of any traces of discouragement and negativity, boost your confidence, arm yourself with the right set of skills and you’ll be ready for your next career move.

Last Updated: May 22, 2017
About the author

Joe Flanagan

Joe Flanagan is the Senior Career Advisor at Velvet Jobs, a leading outplacement firm. He's a career transition expert and when he's not helping the country try reduce the unemployment rate you can find him curating his Spotify playlists, one track at a time.