What You Shouldn’t Do After a Layoff

March 31, 2014

layoff noticeYou’ve cleaned out your office and moved everything back home. There’s some severance pay coming and unemployment should start before too long. Now you have all the time in the world. What you do with that time – and what you avoid doing with it – will make all the difference in how quickly you find a new job.

Naturally, you should give priority to looking for a new job. That’s pretty obvious. But there are also some very destructive things you shouldn’t be doing. Unless you consciously resist them, you’ll fall into doing them by default.

What are activities you should avoid?

1. Watching television.

Don’t settle down in front of the TV to watch the news channels. It’s okay to check in from time to time, but newscasts are packed with negative information. You don’t need that right now. Modern journalism depends on crime, crisis, catastrophe, and crying. Seeing all that bad news adds to the emotional baggage you’re already lugging around. Right now everything needs to be focused on uplifting and encouraging yourself. The news won’t give you that.

Temporarily block the movie channels. Paying for pay-per-view isn’t in the budget now. Besides, should you tune in, it could turn into an investment of at least an hour and half, and that’s 90 minutes that should be spent job hunting or networking.

TV is dead time, and that’s not where you need to be investing your time. You don’t need to be entertained – you need to develop a workable action plan. Time spent watching TV is a drain on productive time, so keep it to a minimum.

2. Spending time with negative people.

The last thing you need to be doing right now is commiserating with negative people. You’re probably already in a delicate emotional state, and negative people have the potential to finish you off.

Anything pessimistic will slow down your job hunt. Getting back in the workforce has to be your goal. Listening to counter-productive conversation might keep you camped out on the misery of your job loss, and you don’t need that right now.

3. Ruminating.

Whenever something bad happens, ruminating over it is natural behavior. While some of that will happen automatically, you have to be intentional about keeping it to a minimum. Whatever happened that led up to your job loss is now history. Learn from it, do your best to not repeat any mistakes you made, but by all means, let it go. Rehashing the episode won’t change the outcome, and only causes you to focus on the negative.

A job loss is a time for action, and that has to be your focus. Ruminating can easily be mistaken for action, but it’s nothing of the sort. Only action is action. Keeping yourself busy will be a priority. When you are out and about, there’s a chance that you can make good things happen. When you ruminate, all you’re doing is stewing in your own juices. Make a plan of daily activities and stick to it, even if you don’t feel like it. Action puts us in control, ruminating turns us into self-styled victims.

4. Borrowing money.

Making ends meet with a reduced income is a challenge, one to be faced with resolve and consistency. Cutting expenses is the answer, not trying to get more temporary income. Taking out a loan – or worse yet, hitting up friends and family – won’t make the problem go away. The debt will have to be repaid at some point. Having it hang over your head while you get started on a new job adds pressure you don’t need. Worse, if your time out of work ends up being longer than you anticipate, the loans will begin to weigh heavily on you, adding more problems.

5. Applying for jobs you’re not qualified for.

There’s a theory that when you’re unemployed you should use the “shotgun” method of applying for work. That involves applying for any job that’s available under the assumption that sooner or later someone has to hire you.

It sounds logical, but don’t do it. Here’s why:

  • Applications for jobs you aren’t qualified for will only result in more rejections; protecting your ego is important in a job hunt – a growing pile of rejection letters isn’t a positive development.
  • Ultimately, there are only so many potential employers for your skills in your location; you don’t want to hurt a legitimate job opportunity with an employer by applying for positions you aren’t qualified for.
  • Time and effort expended on frivolous applications will take time away from a more focused job search.
  • Applying for a lot of positions might feel good when you’re doing it, but it only builds false hope – that will lead to a big letdown when reality hits.

You don’t want to get caught up spinning your wheels in the mud. Concentrate your efforts on the most likely positions and ignore the rest.

6. Feel you’re worthless or that you’ll never find another job.

This is a form of fatalism, and you don’t need to be engaging in it. Bad things happen in life, and part of our success is learning how to deal with it. No matter how bad your situation may seem right now, you’re not good-for-nothing. You are an individual who has hit a rough spot in the road. The layoff may be because of a lack of work, management’s bad decisions, or you may indeed have under-performed. But you are still a person valuable to many. There are things you can do no one else in the world can do. Be proud of your personal identity, and most of all, be ready to promote it.

It is extremely rare for a job-seeker making reasonable efforts to not find work – sooner or later. But you have to keep working at it.

So be ready to clear the decks in your life, and to focus completely on the job at hand – finding a new job.

What activities do you find to be unproductive after you’ve been laid off from your job? Leave a comment!


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Kevin Mercadante is professional personal finance blogger, and the owner of his own personal finance blog, OutOfYourRut.com. He has backgrounds in both accounting and the mortgage industry. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and two teenage kids and can be followed on Twitter at @OutOfYourRut.

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4 Responses to What You Shouldn’t Do After a Layoff

  • Dana

    You know what’s an even bigger problem than “negative people”? Since “negative people” usually means “people who aren’t perky and positive all the time”? How about people who are always finding ways to put you down about everything you do instead of offering encouragement and positive advice. Those are the absolute worst. I would rather sit around listening to my best friend whining about yet another failed relationship then put up with a jerk who criticizes me about listening to my best friend whining.

    (Hypothetical. I’ve had far more failed relationships than she has.)

    Every little thing they can find wrong with you, boy, they point it out. And if you should get up enough backbone to bring this to their attention, they somehow always turn it around and make it your fault.

    THAT is a “negative person.” And there are far too many like that out there in the world today.

  • Riky N

    And definitely don’t take too long before you start looking. My girlfriends job contracts have ended twice since I’ve been with her and each time it has taken exactly 3 months before she starts work again. It is a good break, but the time and money in between is hard to make back up.

  • carolina z.

    Since feb.3.2014..ive been fired from my job for no reason explained nor discussed…so im still kind ahh to it..ive have done everything an anything in my power to help N satisfying people at my best an unfortunatly its nit good enough or ur not liked..so since then ive been lookin for work an applying after apply an there either not hireing or theyll call me back..its endless of stress of no end..all im tryin to do is look for work an support my family….im to the end of idk what to do…smh…im a hatd working relyable honest get to person an would do anything for anyone.but it seems when I need the help no ones around I guess thats part of life….well I hope in my avengers an searchea for work I hope something good comea along…thank u for taking the time to read my story..god bless!!


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