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A Layoff Can Be a Chance to Reinvent Your Career

It's tough to stay focused and motivated. Let's go step by step and soon your be on your way to a successful new career.

Step One: Acknowledge Your Feelings

At first you can't believe it has happened to you. Some feel a sense of shock. You may spend time trying to figure out why this happened. Maybe you feel angry and betrayed. All these feelings are normal. However, if you are having difficulty coping with the situation you may want to talk with a professional counselor. Talking about your emotions, and even recording your feelings in a journal can help. Don't hesitate to receive support from friends, family and trained counselors.

Step Two: Quick Financial Review

First you must get the obvious out of the way. Sit down and review your finances. How long can you afford to be unemployed? How much money do you require monthly? How much have you put aside for a time like this? Once you know this, you can begin to make your short and long term plans.

Step Three: A Chance to Reengineer Your Career

Were you happy in your prior position? Is it time for a whole new career? This is your chance to reinvent yourself and select a career that you enjoy. Explore every idea, no matter how impossible it seems. Some people find ways to incorporate their hobbies into a new career. After reflection you may discover you'd rather accept a lower salary for more stability. Defining your values will help you define your career goals. When your values are incongruent with your work, it is difficult to be satisfied.

Check out's Career Discovery Tools for some simple self discovery exercises. Certified career coaches are trained professionals to counsel you through a career transition. Check your local yellow page directory to find one near you.

Step Four: Interim Plan

If you are choosing a new career, you may need more time than you can afford. It's okay to take time to get your career on track, but you've got to pay the bills. Here are some things you may do. See if any of these are right for your situation.

Temporary Assignments

Some professions are better suited for this than others. For example, accountants, administrative assistants or nurses can easily fit into this type of workstyle. They can "test" different types of employers and make new contacts.

Consulting Assignments

If you are an experienced professional, this may be a good way to bring home some money, meet new contacts, add to your résumé and try a new workstyle. An easy way to get started is to support an established firm needing additional consultants. Otherwise, you'll need to market yourself through your network, a recruiter, and Web sites such as

Seasonal Work

The timing may be right for some positions. Between October and January, retail sales is a perfect temporary job. You'll meet many people and brush-up on your selling skills. Qualified tax professionals can pick up hours during tax season. During school months, some school districts will issue emergency teaching certificates for certain individuals to fill substitute teacher positions.

Freelance Writing

Writing articles for professional journals, magazines and Web sites is another way to earn some money and try a new workstyle. You may discover a new talent that turns into your next career.

The bottom line is, you must be realistic about your financial needs and plan for them.

Step Five: Building New Skills

When you were working 50 hours a week, there was little time for continuing education, association chapter meetings, seminars or research. Now is your chance. Here are some of the things you can do. These activities are not just for skill building. They add depth and balance to your life during this transition.

  1. Learn how to operate a new software application.
  2. Read the latest business books.
  3. Take a course at your local university
  4. Volunteer at a charity or school
  5. Become more active in a professional association
  6. Write an article, book or screenplay
  7. Complete research and publish your findings
  8. Teach a class or workshop at a high school, community college or university
  9. Get involved in a political organization you believe in.
  10. Learn a foreign language

For more tips on selecting courses and workshops to boost your career, click here to read the article, "New Skills Lead to a New Job." Your life can be rewarding. Be optimistic about your future. Look at your layoff as a chance to take a break and learn about yourself. Arm yourself with new skills, more knowledge and step into your dream job.

Step Six: Your Long Term Plan

So you've determined what you want to do with the next phase of your career - or maybe the rest of your life. Now it is time to go out and make it a reality.

There are hundreds of books and websites on job searching. Here are some quick resources links that will save you time.

  1. Résumé by professional résumé writers
  2. Free Résumé Generator
  3. Résumé Proofreading Tips
  4. Quick Tips to Improve Your Résumé
  5. Reference Improvement Guide
  6. Networking
  7. Working with Recruiters
  8. Marketing Yourself to Targeted Employers

You may have heard different calculations about the number of résumés to mail each week to get your new position. Of course the more résumés you mail, the faster you'll get interviews. Career searches vary so much depending upon the type of position you are applying for. An accounting clerk may find a new position in three weeks, but a Vice President of Operations may wait nine months for the right position. It is more important to focus on the quality of the leads you pursue, rather than the quantity.

Step Seven: Maintain a Work Schedule

If in your previous position you worked from 7:30 to 5:30, base your new schedule on those hours. Set aside at least four hours a day to research, network and job search. If you want to dedicate more time, that is great. Just don't burn yourself out.

Fit some exercise in your schedule and avoid multiple trips to the kitchen during the day. Eating healthy and exercise will keep you mentally and physically prepared for your challenges.

Keep yourself active. Try not to adopt a new lifestyle of watching soaps and extended afternoon naps.

Now you can begin to build your new career and new life. Maybe you didn't ask for this change, but it has happened. What is important is how you manage this opportunity. Remind yourself of all the difficult times you survived. See, you can survive this too.