Losing your job can be devastating, especially around the holidays. At a time when the rest of the world seems to be celebrating, revising your resume or responding to job postings is the last thing you want to do. But getting back into the game is critical, says Sherrie Bourg Carter, psychologist and author of High Octane Women: How Superachievers Can Avoid Burnout.
Bourg Carter recently examined the importance of formulating a game plan after losing your job for Psychology Today. Here are some suggestions to make the most of your unexpected downtime and position yourself for a new gig in the new year:
You want to present your best self to your next employer, so giving yourself a few days to work through your feelings is fine. While it’s perfectly acceptable to take a little time to recover emotionally (assuming you have the financial resources to do so), you shouldn’t spend time with the “what ifs” or “could have beens,” Bourg Carter says.
“If you start a job search feeling depressed, overwhelmed, angry, and/or bitter, what’s the likelihood that you will have a good job interview?” Bourg Carter says. “As hard as it may be to do, thinking of job loss as an opportunity moves you into the future. Thinking of it as a negative keeps you in the past.”
The holidays are a prime time to network–at holiday parties, professional association events, and even neighborhood gatherings, says Lynne Sarikas, Director of the MBA Career Center at Northeastern University. It’s also a great opportunity to reconnect with old friends and colleagues and let them know what you’re looking for.
While some industries may slow down in December, companies with money in their budgets may be looking to hire before the end of the year, while others may be planning to increase headcounts in the new year.
Tara Goodfellow, career coach and owner of North Carolina based Athena Educational Consultants, Inc., suggests connecting with recruiters. “This is a great time to build relationships with recruiters as they’re typically slower this time of year until budgets open up [in] January,” she says. Reach out to them via LinkedIn and set up some informational interviews with hiring managers in your field. You’ll be getting a leg up on the competition while they’re in a food coma.
While you were busy doing your full-time job five days a week, you probably weren’t thinking about what you wanted to do career-wise. Bourg Carter suggests using this time to reflect on your career aspirations: do you want to stay in the same field, or try something different?
If you want to explore other options, she suggests taking a class or volunteering a few hours a week in a field you’re interested in to beef up your resume. Plus, you’ll meet people with similar interests.
[h/t: Psychology Today]