Each week, TopResume’s career advice expert, Amanda Augustine, answers user questions like the one below from Quora and the Ask Amanda form. A certified professional career coach (CPCC) and resume writer (CPRW), Amanda has been helping professionals improve their careers for over 10 years. Have a question for Amanda? Submit it here.

Q: How do I bounce back after a layoff?

“I just got laid off from my job. Now what do I do?” — Kaia C.

Whether you knew the pink slip was coming or you were caught completely off guard, getting laid off from a job is never an easy situation in which to find yourself. As with any loss, a layoff is bound to stir up many emotions and throw your world for a loop. However, now is not the time to curl up and hide. Below are seven steps you can take to bounce back from a layoff and land your next job.

Take a moment to mourn

Before you bounce back from getting laid off, take a deep breath and allow yourself to grieve. It’s perfectly natural — and healthy — to mourn the loss of your job. And frankly, it’s important that you deal with these emotions head-on at the beginning of your job search so they don’t hold you back later on in the process.

Accept your feelings for what they are and look for activities to help you deal with them, such as surrounding yourself with supportive friends and family and seeking physical activities where you can let out some steam in a healthy way.  

Remember, your job loss is a minor setback in the grand scheme of your career. Many successful professionals have experienced setbacks in their careers and were able to turn things around. You’re no different.

Reflect on what you’ve learned

I know it seems impossible at the moment but think of your recent layoff as an opportunity, rather than a loss. Take a step back and consider what this experience has taught you about yourself and your goals. Now that you have the chance to write a new chapter in your career, what do you want to do?

Write down what you liked about your recent job and what you wished you could have changed about the position. Use this information to clearly define your job goals for your next search.

If you’re struggling to clarify your job goals, try a few of these job-goal exercises.

Brainstorm your bragging points

Once your job goals are well-defined, you’ll need to update all your personal marketing materials for your job search. This includes, but is not limited to, your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, and any other social media channel you decide to leverage for your job search.

Pull out your brag book — or start building one ASAP — to help you identify the career highlights and most relevant accomplishments from your work to showcase throughout your marketing materials.

Request a free resume critique

It can be very difficult to remain objective while writing your resume when you’re dealing with the sting of a recent layoff. If you’re having trouble articulating your value to an employer, deciding what information to include in your resume, or you’re unsure how to optimize your resume with the right keywords, submit your resume for a free review by TopResume. Your TopResume free review will let you know what your resume is doing well and where it is missing the mark from both a content and design perspective. It will also show you how an applicant tracking system will read your resume, what top skills and keywords your resume currently ranks for, and what information may get lost in the system altogether.

Or better yet, outsource your resume rewrite to a professional writer who understands the ins and outs of applicant tracking systems and the recruitment process so you’re one step closer to landing your next job. Click on the following link to learn more about TopResume’s resume-writing packages.

Audit your online personal brand

As a job seeker, you need market your skill sets and experience on and offline to support your job goals. Make a list of every social media account you’ve created and then decide which ones you want employers to find when they Google you. For these sites, check to make sure they match your new resume by telling a consistent story about your work history, education, and current goals. If there are other accounts you’d prefer to reserve for personal use only, change the profile name to your first and middle name or a nickname, and increase the security settings so that only your close friends and family can find and access them. For more tips on how to evaluate your personal branding strategy, download my free personal branding checklist.

Invest in your professional network

You are 10 times more likely to land an interview when your job application is accompanied by an employee referral. However, in order to secure these coveted job referrals, you need to nurture your network of contacts. Take the time to reconnect with former colleagues, vendors, and clients you lost touch with over the years. This networking advice also applies to your personal connections, especially the social butterflies in your life who have vast networks and are more likely to introduce you to valuable contacts.

Whenever you meet someone new or reconnect with a contact, don’t enter a conversation asking for a job. Instead, use these discussions as opportunities to seek out information and additional introductions.

Opt for a positive state of mind

A successful job search requires an optimistic mindset. No one wants to hire the candidate who seems too desperate for the job or appears to be still hung up over getting laid off, so when you’re interviewing with prospective employers, focus on expressing your genuine interest in the job opportunity — rather than bitterness from your recent layoff. Don’t let yourself walk into a networking event or an interview with an obvious chip on your shoulder from your last work experience — it will only taint your conversations and hold you back from landing a job.

If an interviewer asks you about your last job, choose your words carefully — bashing your former employer will only hurt you. Briefly mention the layoff and then bring the conversation back to your passion for your work and your qualifications for the job at hand.

At the end of the day, remember that getting laid off is only a minor setback in your career. Don’t let this hiccup define you. Instead, learn from the experience and use this personal growth opportunity to propel your job search forward. I wish you the very best of luck!

Need help bouncing back after a layoff? Invest in a professionally written resume today!

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