Biggest mistakes to avoid when you lose your job

When you lose your job, many thoughts go through your head. From shock to anger, emotions can take over our state of mind when we are in distress. Sometimes we act based on our emotions. For more on understanding the emotions you will go through post job loss click here. One of the worst things one can do is react out of panic mode rather than taking a step back and looking at our decisions from a big picture view. Be sure to keep the following things in mind if you ever lose your job. These mistakes to avoid may save you from problems and embarrassment in the future.

Biggest Mistakes to Avoid When you Lose Your Job

biggest mistakes to avoid when you lose your job

Do not get stuck in a communication rut

When you are planning on leaving a position or you just want to protect yourself, it is imperative that if you have a company phone that you download your contacts onto your personal computer. Do not get into a situation where you no longer have access to the contacts you have worked so hard to acquire over the years.. Make sure that you have a separate email address that you can forward people to when you leave. Be sure to retain email addresses by downloading those to your home computer as well. You never know who you may want to reach out to in the future. 

HUGE MISTAKE: Do not make a scene you will regret.

Usually this leads to an embarrassing story and potentially bad references. Be sure to leave with grace and you will thank yourself for that.

Do not steal things as you are packing your boxes.

Let's be real, we are working adults and stealing is not only wrong, it can define who you are. No one wants that reputation and it is not worth the risk. Do you really need that stapler? Only pack what you really need, the rest is just collateral that you will regret later. Speaking from experience, when it comes time to unpack your belongings at home you most likely will not have room for it all. Also, most of these belongings you most likely have on digital copy anyhow, plus it leads to rehashing the job loss.

Do not bash your former employer on social media.

This is just not classy and goes along with number one, where you may receive bad references if you do so. Keep in mind that burning bridges is certainly not be your best move, especially if you need to lean on these references in the future. Keep those assets in your pocket, not across the river with no way to reach them.

Avoid taking it personal

It can be very difficult to not take this departure personally, but you have to avoid this as much as possible no matter how it feels. Business is business, there is politics, change and evolving leadership. Things change and eliminations happen. Terminations happen, wanted or unwanted. Take the person out of it and try to look big picture. Companies downsize and restructure all the time.

If the circumstances were your fault then there may be some things to consider. Determine what mistakes were made and try to learn from them so that the same thing doesn’t happen again. Learning is a life process and when we learn we grow.

Waiting to apply for unemployment

This is your time to file for unemployment, do not put this off. This is money that you can use to support yourself while looking for a new job. Be sure to take advantage of this right after job loss. It will alleviate potential late fees and penalties that you might receive for not paying your bills on time due to a lapse in paycheck. Click here on more information on how to apply for unemployment benefits. 

Do not leave your resume on your work laptop

If you can avoid this now, do it. Move your personal items all to a zip drive or a portable hard drive. No one wants to redo their resume because they left it on their work laptop.

Do not dip into your retirement

Do not make the mistake of dipping into your retirement savings, this is a big deal. This money has taken a long time to save and turning to use it now will only lead to negative consequences. For example, you will pay a tax on the withdrawn funds in addition to a fee due to taking it out early. Some other options you may have are turning to an emergency fund if available,  or if need be, taking out a small loan. Either of these options would be better than dipping into retirement. For future reference, be sure to have a six month savings emergency fund.

Take control of your spending

It may go without saying, but do not keep spending the way you were when you were employed. or this will be a mistake you will definitely regret later! 

Here are some ways to eliminate extra costs:

  • Cancel your subscriptions. Do you need Amazon Prime, Netflix, and cable? Make decisions to downsize short-term in order to save those extra pennies.
  • Stop paying extra on any reoccurring payments IE) mortgage, school loans etc.
  • Stop saving temporarily in your retirement accounts, college saving accounts etc.
  • Leverage the emergency fund if you have one, this is an emergency, however be frugal.
  • Contact creditors. Most of the time creditors are more receptive when you are proactive and contact them. Be sure that you explain the situation and projected timeline. Whatever you do, consider your credit score and try to maintain it.
  • Get help with your financials. If you have a financial adviser, now is the time to leverage their hourly services to see what accounts you may want to tap.

Do not take the first job you see.

When you are strapped for cash and it seems as though the only way to pay the bills is to get a job right away, take a minute and pause. It can be tempting to take the first offer you may see, but I challenge you to re-evaluate your worth and take some time to determine your next move.

Download my Define your Value Freebie to truly understand your worth and your personal mission statement.

Be intentional about this process and really think about what opportunities this can open up for you. It is never as bad as you think. If you are able to eat, drink, and have a place to sleep, it will be okay. This is the time to make progress rather than taking a step back. Your next job should fulfill the missing pieces of your resume to get to your next big goal. Give yourself the grace and time to intentionally choose your next move rather than acting out of desperation.

Don't consider this time as vacation. 

It is tempting to consider this time as an early retirement or vacation, but that will only set you back financially and in your career. Use this time instead as time to breathe and reevaluate your path, as well as time to get your life in operational order. Put together a budget, get your finances in order, update your resume, cover letter and all social media profiles. Be sure to get your benefits and retirement funds aligned. Finally, put together a plan for your schedule and how you will keep yourself on task. Certainly, plan a little getaway or a vacation if you have the funds and the time as long as you're not treating the job loss as one in its entirety.

job loss recovery guide

Next Steps

Although there are many things that you shouldn't do, keep in mind that this is a new day and time to look at things from a positive lens. Try to incorporate this way of thinking into your new daily life and consider each day an opportunity. You are the only one in control of your direction and life path. Use this time wisely to curate the career path and life you have always wanted. For more on what to do next, check out ,"what to do in the first 2 weeks of losing your job" .


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