Money & Careers

Rainy Days and Layoffs—This Too Shall Pass

Without intention, many of us identify ourselves through the work we do. Which is why it’s nothing short of devastating when our bosses pull us aside to tell us we’ve been downsized. Hearing the news that we’re unemployed is funny; along with the devastating news—and worries over how to make the next car payment—there’s a small tingle of relief and optimism that something better lies ahead. We experience the forced opportunity to imagine what a new job may promise for us, but quickly we bury that picture with the burdens of our job hunt. Hold onto that snapshot; it will serve you well in the coming weeks.

Admittedly, it’s a bit harder to imagine looking for a fulfilling job after age 40, when you thought up until now that you’d be coasting in your career while traveling, caring for aging parents or taking up a hobby. A full spectrum of emotions from fear and depression to panic may cross your mind.

Not every day in your job hunt is going to hold the promise of a new lead. There are going to be days when the spark of faith in your ability to land a permanent gig seems like a fairly distant flicker. At the same time, tuition bills and mortgages have to be paid; mouths have to be fed. How do you sustain faith in your ability to contribute again? The good news is that we can train our brain to welcome the idea of reinvention, as long as we have a plan in place.

It’s pretty clear that in addition to creating a strong job search campaign, you have to work equally as hard at not feeling demoralized by a lack of options.

First, choose to focus on your talents and strengths. Networking conversations and job interviews are opportunities to leave a great impression with others about your approach to your work. Negativity about the economy, the political atmosphere or any other outside force beyond your control pervades everyone’s life these days and believe me, the folks you talk to don’t need to be reminded of it. When negative thoughts about your prospects for work pervade the conversation, hiring managers and recruiters can smell your desperation.

Instead of letting these exchanges become places to commiserate about the woes of your job hunt, choose to be optimistic. Stay on message with your contacts and hiring influencers about how you can solve their company’s problems with your talents. Branding yourself as the solution to business problems has a lingering, lasting effect that will help get you hired.

Be flexible and open-minded. Don’t turn down the opportunity for a conversation or a job interview because you think it’s a dead end. The chance to brainstorm about your next career move with anyone is never a waste of your time. In today’s job market, make a pact with yourself that no reasonable job opportunity is below you. If you’ve been a manager, part-time or individual contributor jobs can quickly move into positions right-sized for your abilities in a short period of time.

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