Starting Over: A Survival Guide for Retrenched Young Professionals

The future looks uncertain and scary for anyone who suddenly loses their job. What do you do next? Will you ever find another job?

Firstly, please don’t be too hard on yourself. Even talented individuals who looked stable—high flyers included—have been retrenched due to unforeseen circumstances like company restructuring or cost reduction measures.

The most important thing is not to panic, and to avoid making any rash decisions you may regret later. Here are some actionable tips to get back on track. This is a temporary setback: you’ve got this!

1) Don’t Panic and Take Deep Breaths

It’s a big blow for anyone. It’s okay to feel shattered. Give yourself some time to absorb the fact. It’s best to leave on good terms if you can, so don’t take “revenge” by making off with all the snacks in the pantry. You might feel vindicated, but word may spread to prospective employers or colleagues. You may also need to ask for references too.

Next, update your resume and online profiles. Focus on your key achievements and the value you can provide to a new employer. Ask former colleagues or mentors to review and provide feedback: they’ll be more willing to help than you realise!

Don’t be afraid to reach out to your network and let them know you’re on the market. Someone may know of an opportunity and be able to provide a recommendation. There are two ways you can do this: the first is to be selective about who you tell if you want to avoid the rumour mill. The second is to be transparent and post openly on LinkedIn, which some have taken to doing.

2) Review Your Finances and Create a Budget

You’ll also have to a good hard look at your finances, now that you temporarily lack a stable source of income. Make a budget for essential expenses like rent (if applicable), transportation, and groceries. See where you can cut costs by reducing or eliminating things like subscriptions, gym memberships, or dining out.

You may want to find freelance or part-time work on the side.

Pay Off All Debts

If you have an upcoming credit card bill, pay it off in full as soon as possible. When revising your budget, remember to include all instalments and fixed expenses into your planning. If you’re a regular flexible payment account user, consider closing your accounts to manage your spending.

3) Update Your Resume and Online Profiles

Review your current resume and make any necessary changes to the content. Focus on quantifying your key accomplishments and impact. Use numbers and metrics to demonstrate how you added value, and action words to impress .

Ask your former managers or colleagues if they would be willing to provide an updated recommendation on LinkedIn and serve as references. Will your supervisor or manager be ready to write a reference clarifying that your redundancy is unrelated to your performance (if it isn’t)? If yes, you’ll have a better advantage.

Refresh Your LinkedIn Profile

Things you can do include:

  • Updating your profile photo to a professional headshot.
  • Revising your profile headline to reflect your experience and current career goals.
  • Updating your work experience section with details on your latest role. Emphasize key accomplishments and quantify your impact.
  • Adding new skills and certifications.
  • Joining relevant LinkedIn groups to increase your visibility.
  • Updating your connections and ask for recommendations from former managers or colleagues.
  • Increasing your activity by posting updates, sharing industry news, and commenting on discussions. This helps to raise your profile in searches.

Other Online Profiles

Update profiles on any other major job sites like Indeed, or JobStreet. Use similar content from your resume and LinkedIn profile for consistency. Don’t forget to set your profile to public!

4) Tap Into Your Network

Your professional network is one of your greatest assets. Don’t be afraid to tap into your connections—chances are, someone may know of new opportunities that could be a great fit.

If possible, attend networking sessions, and connect with people who share your interests and experience. Staying connected, both online and in person, will ensure you have support (both moral and material) and remain on the radar for opportunities. Keep the lines of communication open, be willing to ask for help, and make the most of every interaction!

If someone enquires about the gap in your resume, don’t stress out too much. If you’re , remember being laid off is often outside of your control. Explain the situation honestly and focus on the valuable experience you gained. During interviews, you can say something like:

“The company underwent corporate restructuring and my role was eliminated. While it was disappointing, I’m looking forward to new opportunities. Over the X years I was there, I strengthened my skills in [relevant areas].”

5) Consider Career Coaching or Additional Training

If you’ve recently lost your job, career coaching or going back to school for additional training may be good options to consider.

Career coaching involves working one-on-one with a career coach to help determine your strengths, interests, and goals. While career coaching does cost money, it may be a worthwhile investment if you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed.

You could also explore a full degree or just a few courses. What Massive open online courses (MOOCs) offer free or low-cost classes in almost any subject and are a great place to start! While you typically don’t earn an official credential, you can build your knowledge and skills. This depends on your career goals and financial situation. Retraining in an in-demand field or updating your skills through a certification program may open up more job prospects. However, the additional time and money this requires may not make sense if you need to find work quickly. Evaluate your options objectively before taking on additional debt.

6) Take Time for Yourself to Recharge and Refocus

It’s easy to become consumed by stress and worry, so make sure to recharge your batteries and refocus your mind. Set a regular schedule for your job hunting activities and stick to it. Put away your devices and do something enjoyable like reading a book, exercising, cooking a nice meal, or pursuing a hobby. Remember to stay active, too: this releases endorphins that improve your mood and act as natural stress relievers.

If it helps, consider joining an online community or support group. There are many people in similar circumstances who can offer empathy and advice.

Remember, finding the right opportunity may take time. Avoid comparing yourself to others and stay determined. You’ve got this!

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