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So You Lost Your Job What Do You Do Now?

By Inc

Updated 2018

OK, so you lost your job or maybe you just quit, or maybe you are thinking of quitting. The best thing you can do for yourself is get right into an aggressive job search campaign where you can re-direct the energies, the frustration, the emotion and the creativity that you normally channeled into your regular job.

The first version of this article was posted in 1999. I've been updatiung it since then because so many people have responded telling me how much this helped them, after losing a job.

Reading This Will Change Your Life

But wait. There is even something much more powerful that you can do before beginning your job search. We have found that the absolute best thing that you can do for yourself, when making one of these major life changes, is to start a regular program of vigorous exercise. Really vigorous exercise will:

  • Clear your mind
  • Energize your entire being
  • Burn off any excess emotion or anxiety

So, besides focusing your energies on your new job search, we want you to start getting some very vigorous exercise every morning or at least 4-5 days a week.

You may need a day or two each week to let the body heal and recover from the exercise, especially if you are over 40.

If you can't jog, or do aerobics, then go out for a long, brisk power walk everyday. I prefer 4 to 6 miles walks / jogs.

Basically, if you are not going to the office each morning, we want you getting exercise and fresh air each morning. It will make all the difference in your attitude, your mood, and your well being.

It will help you get a new and better job much sooner.

We recently met one "out of work" gentleman who walked 10 miles every morning on a mountain road near our office. After seeing him power walking every morning for several months we saw him the day after he accepted a job offer. He was smiling ear to ear about getting a new job. His biggest regret was that he would now only be able to take these power walks on weekends. The exercise had become a major part of his life.

Interestingly enough, he came within 15 minutes of signing bankruptcy papers. He was just about to drive to his lawyers to sign the papers when he got an email with a job offer. Talk about close calls. Do you think the power walking helped him reduce the stress? You bet it did.

If you are at all overweight , or just a bit flabby, use this time to get in shape. Between now and when you go back to work you will have almost total control over how you spend your time, how and what you eat, and what you use your brain to think about. Use the time wisely. This can be the best time of your life.

If you can afford it, I would suggest you get a personal trainer at a local gym and go there twice a week. A full body workout with strength training has been proven to reverse many of the signs of aging. No, you won't get all your hair back, and the gray hair won't turn black again, but you will look and feel younger if you work out. It's been proven and it holds true even in your 70's.

So, we want you to get one hour of hot, sweaty exercise at least 4 to 5 days each week.

People have thanked us for this advice, and we are giving it away for free. You can't beat that.

Before You Leave Your Job

If by chance you haven't left your job yet, we want you to do three things. First, make sure the cell phone you are using and the account for the phone is yours and does not belong to the company you work for. Second, make sure you have a personal email account of your own. Third, make sure you copy all the phone numbers and email addresses to your own computer.

Owning your own email address and cell phone account is paramount to your staying in touch. The minute you quit, resign, get fired, get laid of, the company you worked for will pull the plug on both the cell phone and the email address.

Just before you leave, and before they pull the plug you will want to send out emails to people to let them know how to contact you. You need continuity in your phone number and email address to do this.

When a very good friend of mine flew back to headquarters to resign his position, the company, in a fit of anger, pulled the plug on all of his communications. Having been a dedicated "company man" and a very highly placed executive, he always used the company cell phone and email and that was about the only way we all knew how to get in touch with him. They cut him off while he was in a foreign city, with no way to contact anyone. All of his phone numbers were stored in that cell phone. All of is email addresses were in the laptop the company confiscated.

High Anxiety & Stress

Losing a job, being out of work, or changing careers brings it's share of anxiety. When you did have a job, the routine of going into work everyday created an illusion of stability for both you and those around you. Even if you hated the thought of going into work, the mere thought of going into work gave you a sense of purpose. Being out of work, and not knowing what the future holds might cause even more anxiety than having a job you hate.

Guess what. The future was always uncertain. Whether you had a stable job or not, the future holds uncertainty. We have no idea what tomorrow will bring. That is why you will want to start getting more control over your life. Exercising, eating better, eating less, and focusing on creating your future goes a long way towards giving you more control over your destiny.

For men (I can't speak for women) but losing a job can mean a huge loss of self-esteem and self confidence.

If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night feeling like you've just been screwed and abused by your employer, or you wake up worrying about the future, get out of bed and work on your job search. With a computer and a good Internet connection you can work on your job search any time, night or day.

One last tip. If you are experiencing a lot of anxiety, we recommend that you take classes in yoga and meditation. These two ancient practices will go a long way towards reducing anxiety and helping you plot a new direction for your life.

Let's Get Started on Your Job Search

Here are the ways people are finding new jobs today, in order of effectiveness. You may use most if not all of these methods:

1) Networking - calling or emailing everyone you know and everyone they know

2) Posting your profile and networking on LinkedIn

3) Targeting selected companies

4) Resume posting and job searching on internet Job Boards like, CareerBuilder,

5) Resume submission to employer web sites

6) Resume mass mailing - sending out hundreds of resumes to recruiters

Where Do You Start?

Update: As of 2018, there is data to suggest that ~80% of jobs are found through someone you know. Which sucks for us introverts. But its reality.

Very few people find jobs by submitting resumes to job boards and even to company job site. Yet that is where most people spend their time.

If you are the outgoing, extraverted type, start with the networking first. By networking, I don't mean "networking meet up sessions. I mean contacting everyone you know and asking them for some of their contacts.

I once knew a senior sales executive who was so well networked (it came naturally to him), that after being laid off, he found a better job in just three days.

I'm sure he got to bank several months of severance pay as well. But the point is, he knew so many people and he was so comfortable calling them, that once he put the word out, offers started pouring in. No kidding, 3 days.

Let's say you're a bit more introverted, like I am, and calling people telling them you are looking for a job just makes you uncomfortable.

Perhaps you are more the technical type and you don't get out much. Tough. Get on LinkedIn and contact everyone you have ever known or worked with.

What Type of Work Do You Want To Do?

Are you sure you know what type of work you want to do?

(Caution - sales pitch approaching - Hey, how is that for honesty? We have bills to pay too)

If you are having any doubts about what type of work is best for you take our online Career Interest Test and check out our Personality Type tools.

These tools will help you understand what type of work is right for you and what types of work you should avoid. When people are passionate about the work they do, success comes quickly and work is a joy. When people are not passionate about their work, the quality suffers and self sabotage sets in. Make sure you know what type of work fires up your passion.

Even if you think you know what type of work is best for you, this career assessment tool can do two things for you. It will confirm that you are doing the right type of work or not, and it will remind you of types of work you used to enjoy but you may have forgotten about.

We had a client who was a very successful software engineer. His job was high paying but not totally fulfilling. He would have been crazy to leave the successful career, but something was still missing. Our Career Interest Test reminded him that he had once been a very talented musician.

He had completely forgotten about that side of his life while he was busy earning a living. Within months he was successfully producing and selling his own music, in his spare time. So our career test can remind you of things that you used to love to do before you got caught up in earning a living and raising a family.

(OK, end of sales pitch for now)

The "Internet Resume Posting" Approach to Job Searching

Let's assume you know what type of work you want to do and you are just looking for: the right company; lots of stock options; good people to work with; and a capable boss. If you really want fast action and fast response, post your resume on the Internet.

It may sound frightening to let everyone on the web see your credentials and know you are out looking, but you will get calls from recruiters and hiring companies very quickly.

This approach is especially useful if you don't feel particularly needed and loved right now. You will get attention soon.

The Internet has a number of job boards that list available jobs and allow you to post your resume for potential employers and recruiters to see. It's free to you. The hiring companies pay to list jobs and to view resumes. Many headhunters will scan the new resumes as they show up.

Click here to find jobs using or for over $100K jobs, The Ladders

Click for Links to Resume Blasting (Mailing) Services

These sites also allow you to send resumes directly to the hiring companies via E-mail.

For most jobs using email to send your resume is more practical than sending it the old fashion way on paper through the post office because it allows the HR people to distribute your resume without having to stand at the copy machine.

There is one drawback to this electronic method. Most of the job boards will want your resume in "plain text file", without all the fancy formatting you have worked so hard to achieve.

Plain text resumes look terrible and are hard to read. Whenever you have a chance, send E-mails and attach your glorious, well-formatted, artistically conceived resume, rather than sending the plain text files these sites like to use.

The file name should contain your name so that the recipient can quickly save and distribute the file.

Many high level positions will not show up on job boards due to privacy and security reasons. However, a quick scan of the job boards will show you that there are some Vice President and CEO positions listed. Job boards will also show you who is hiring. Even if you do not see your type of job, post your resume. I know of a Senior VP who posted his resume on four job boards and was getting calls from recruiters the next day.

Caution. If you are still employed you probably do not want your resume showing up on the Internet, at least not with your name or your present employer listed. The Human Resource group in your present company probably search these boards to find new people and they may run across your resume. Some job boards promise to block your resume from your present company.

The "Mass Mailing / Resume Blasting" Approach to Job Searching

Resume mass mailing is still one of my personal favorite ways to find a great position. You can't rely on this method alone, but this method has the potential of opening up doors that you did not know even existed.

Back in 1999 when the first version of this article was published, very few people were aware of this method for getting one's resume in front of recruiters. However, during the last few years, several internet based services have come on line offering the service.

I first heard about this mass mailing technique from a fellow who always landed new and exciting jobs, seemingly at will and whenever he wanted one. This individual had no fears about changing jobs and companies.

What you will do is email several hundred resumes and cover letters to a selected mailing list of retained and contingency recruiters. You might send out as many as 500 or more.

If you were once a hiring manager the mass mailing method may be a bit counter-intuitive. To do your hiring you probably used a handful of recruiters who were specialized in your field. In this case you are going to reverse the process and contact over 500 recruiters in hopes of finding the one who can help you.

Yes, this is a "shotgun" approach rather than a precisely aimed rifle shot. But it works.

Why send out so many resumes? Can't you just contact one or two headhunters?

Entry level jobs and non-managerial jobs are posted just about everywhere and you don't need a mass mailing to find them. However, most management positions and most senior level positions will not be posted for public notice. Yes you can still find Vice President and CEO jobs on the Internet job boards, but most management jobs are known only to a few recruiters and the hiring manager. The trick is finding the recruiter who knows about the position that is ideal for you.

For most management jobs, you can assume there is one, maybe two recruiting firms working on it. Usually, the hiring company will use their favorite recruiter. They may in fact "retain" him or her, thus giving that recruiter an exclusive on filling the job.

Recruiters love to be paid in advance. It really helps their cash flow. In the US there are over 4000 recruiting firms. Some may be small two person offices. Some may be large national search firms with over a hundred recruiters and 30 branch offices. The odds are that only one of these firms knows about your perfect job. How do you find that firm?

When you were a hiring manager, perhaps you had to pay (retain) a recruiter up front, or perhaps your company had a few contingency recruiters they liked to use. In any case you worked with a very limited number of headhunters, probably those approved by your HR people.   Assume that a hiring company uses only one favorite recruiting firm and this firm is the only one to know about the open position. How do you find this search firm? Well, you mail out a high volume of resumes to a mailing list of recruiting firms and you hope one lands at the door of the recruiter that knows about the open position.

So when you are the hiring manager you will work with just a few recruiters. When you are the job searcher, you will contact as many recruiters as possible. That is counter-intuitive for most people.

There is one other problem with using just a few recruiters to help you find a job. You are probably hoping that your favorite recruiter will aggressively shop you around. Perhaps you expect him / her to call several firms that could use your skill set. In fact they might do this. The problem is, if they are not the approved recruiter at the hiring company, they won't get past the front door.

For example, I was recently filling a high tech position using two preferred recruiters. A non-approved recruiter called up and told me he had the ideal candidate for my slot. Unfortunately I could not even discuss the position with him because our HR people did not approve him. Had he sent me the person's resume, and had it been the same resume we received from the approved recruiter, we would have had a battle over who got paid. HR people really hate these sort of mix ups and they take a long time to forgive the person who caused them.

The bottom line is that you need to get your resume in front of as many recruiters as possible. You never know which one is working on the job that is perfect for you.

Click to see out list of Resume Mailing Services

A Bit Of Mass Mailing Nostalgia

In 1999, we used hard copies and the US Postal Service instead of email. Why? At that time it was still hard to find the email addresses of most recruiters.

Just for kicks, have a look at the cost of sending out 400 paper based resumes in 1999. It worked out to about $.50 each, not including the cost of buying a mailing list which ran $200.

Postage was the major cost. Sending out 2000 resumes would have cost $1000. Stuffing and licking envelopes was also an obstacle.

@ 33 cents per stamp
2 page resume
1 cent per page
1 page cover letter
Toner or Ink cartridge
Sub Total

Today, there are several "resume blasting" services on the internet that will distribute your resume for $50 to $150.

The "Networking" Approach to Job Searching

The purpose of networking is to ultimately call the hiring manager and personally give him your best sales pitch.

First, you want to let as many people as possible know you are in the job market and you are available to do ____ type of work. Basically, you hope that someone with whom you have networked with will hear of a good job, and will mention your name or refer you to the hiring person.

If you have any shame or embarrassment about losing your job, get over it. Do not hide the fact that you are out of work and back in the job market. Keeping it a secret will not help you find the next job.

Build a positive story in your mind. You're not sorry you were laid off. You are looking forward to the opportunity to join a new company. You are excited about meeting and working with new people. You're hoping to find a different type of job. Being in the job market is refreshing and stimulating. You should have left that company years ago.

Start to phone your friends and people you have met through your job. Make a long list and go back to people you have known for several years. It just might be that guy who left your company six years ago who knows about a new job opening that is perfect for you. If you have a targeted list of companies that you want to work for, then you need contacts in those firms. Ask anyone you network with if they know anyone at company _____.

When you are networking, communicate these messages:

  1. I'm in the job market and it's exciting and refreshing
  2. I'm looking for ____ type of work at ______ level.
  3. Do you know of any open positions?
  4. Do you have any contacts that might know of an opening?
  5. Do you know anyone at my target company _____?
  6. Why don't we stay in touch? How about if I give you a call in a few weeks? How about lunch when you are in town?

Keep a notebook showing whom you called, when, and how they responded to the messages above.

Keep calling people back every three to four weeks otherwise people will forget about you and your job search.

The "Newspaper Ad and Internet" Approach to Job Searching

If you have ever tried to find a job by reading those tiny job postings in the classified section of the Sunday paper, you will be glad to know that you know longer have to do that.

Besides the fact that they are hard to read, it's very inefficient to have to circle the ad and then come back later to cut and paste it on a sheet of paper. It's not done that way anymore.

There are sites on the Internet that contain all the jobs posted in your Sunday newspaper. You can sort through these postings using the search tools provided by each site.

CareerBuilder contains the job postings from over 90 newspapers. Prior to the economic crash of 2007 / 2008 they had over 2,000,000 open jobs. Click here for CareerBuilder.

Several other Internet sites show job postings that are paid for by the hiring firm. See the Internet Job Search Sites listed earlier in this paper.

The "Targeted Company" Approach to Job Searching

If you are lucky enough to know what company you want to work for, then your task is much more simple and perhaps you can avoid the resume mass mailing and a lot of the networking.

Many job search experts recommend that you should focus on a few selected companies and do everything in your power to penetrate them and get a job there.

This is the precise, rifle shot approach.

I think selecting the right company to work for is the hardest task of all. Years ago when life long employment was still a reality there were always a few name brand firms that people aspired to. Names like IBM, GM, Ford, Intel, and GE come to mind. Today it might be Cisco, Microsoft, and Toyota, but life long employment is dead, unless you own your own firm.

Assuming you have a list of companies you are attracted to, here are some things to look for:

  • What is the profit history of the firm? Companies with higher gross margins will be less likely to have lay-offs than firms with low margins. How many quarters has the company been profitable? Look at whether stock analysts are recommending to buy the stock or sell it. If they rate the company as a strong buy then that's the place to be. You can find all this information on the Yahoo web site.
  • How strong is their balance sheet? Are they in debt or do they have a lot of cash in the bank? A company with a lot of cash might be acquiring other firms and that is usually good for you. A company with a lot of debt will not be able to take good care of you. Companies with a lot of debt and little cash usually get acquired and the management teams fired.
  • How does your target company share the wealth? Do all employees get stock options? How much do they contribute to 401K? Are all the employees on a bonus plan? What is their recent bonus paying history.
  • When was their last major reorganization? Are they planning a major consolidation? Are any key people approaching retirement age?


When you have a targeted company, there are numerous ways to contact them:
  • Meet their people at trade shows and conferences.
  • Send E-mail or cold call potential hiring managers whose names appear in print or on their web site.
  • Call the operator and ask for the manager of whatever department you want to work in.
  • E-mail their HR people who are listed on the job site boards.
  • Visit them at job fairs.

The list goes on. Be creative. If you know what company you want to work for, never give up.

Some Tips on Resumes

Unless you are extremely well networked you will need a good resume.

Think of your resume as a portrait of yourself that you hand people to tell them who you are, what you do, and how you can add value to their particular endeavor.

Your resume is your brochure. You are the product.

Your resume is your 60 second commercial spot.

Your resume should be good enough to get you an interview. Then it is up to you to close the sale. Because resumes are so important, you will want to spend some time getting it right. Spend a few hours each day over an entire week if needed. Keep coming back to it with a fresh perspective.

You will also want to have a few recruiters and human resource people have a look. There are now Internet sites which provide advice on how to make your resume really sizzle.

To learn more about resumes and to find someone to write on for you, click here.


OK, so you've lost your job. This is probably the best thing to happen to you in years.

You now have the opportunity to create a new life for yourself. The job you were in was probably toxic to your health anyway.

Hopefully you have some severance pay so that you can afford to be particular about your next job.

If you know what kind of work you want to be doing, this article should help you find a place to do it.

If you are not sure about what type of work you want to be doing, take's online Career Interest Test or use our Advanced Personality Type Career Report. It's a quick and affordable way to ensure you are doing the work you were meant to do.

Whatever you do, we wish you the best of luck in building a new career and a new life.

Here’s to finding the best job of your life,


Michael T. Robinson