I’ve lost my job. How can I cope and move forward?

Job loss can be a really challenging thing to experience. Of course, losing a job can mean loss of income – but it can also feel like a loss of identity, routine and connection. And right now, it’s something a lot of people are going through as the country deals with COVID-19’s impacts.

So, if you’re facing job loss, what are some ways to cope? Where do you start if you’re looking to get back into the workforce?

There are things you can do to stay positive and get back on track, according to SEEK’s Resident Psychologist Sabina Read, and career and interview coach Leah Lambart. They addressed readers’ questions about job loss in a recent Facebook live event – here’s the advice they had to share.

I’ve lost my job for the second time; how can I get through this again?

Experiencing job loss twice can be especially tough. But if you find yourself here, Read says it’s helpful to remember that at some point after the first job loss, you found your way through and became employed again. That experience can be the key to finding your way forward now.

Think about how you navigated getting back up again. What worked for you when it came to job hunting and rebuilding your confidence? This can provide the best blueprint for what works for you, while reminding you that you have what it takes to do it again.

I’m worried about my job and financial security and I’m more stressed overall. How do I manage my anxiety?

Read’s says a helpful technique for managing anxiety is ‘worry time’ – setting aside a set period of time to write down and focus on everything you’re feeling anxious about. To try this out:

  • Grab a pen and paper or notebook and set a timer for 30 minutes. Use this time to think about and write down everything that’s concerning you now.
  • After 30 minutes, stop and put what you’ve written away, and try not to focus on it.
  • Try another ‘worry time’ tomorrow to explore again what these worries are and add anything new – but within the 30 minutes.

The purpose of this exercise is to contain anxiety and stop it from spreading into different areas of your life. Reed says once you’ve been doing this for a while, you’ll likely find yourself running out of things to worry about before your 30 minutes is up. There are no rules around worry time – but it’s best not to schedule it in just before bed, as it could keep you up.

After losing my job I’m feeling lost and helpless, almost frozen. What advice can you give me on getting back into the workforce?

First of all, know that it’s totally normal for you to feel frozen or as if you’re not sure what to do next after losing your job. That’s because it can really shake your confidence, Lambart says.

She says it’s also important to remember that it was your position was stood down, not you – it’s nothing to do with your ability. It might sound like a small thing, but saying it as “my job was stood down” or “my job was made redundant” can help you reinforce this message to yourself and when you share the news with people you know.

To start getting back on track, focus on small steps. Even doing one small thing will help you build some momentum and build confidence to help get yourself back out there.

Reading about these 6 steps to help you bounce back from job loss could get you started – they include ways to search and put yourself out there for opportunities. You could also try using this free resume template and free cover letter template to get yourself ready to apply.

I got laid off when lockdown was announced. It is so hard trying to get another job. It’s so demoralising and I don’t know where to start?

It would be a disservice do give a simple answer to this when it’s not a simple situation right now, Read says. It’s important to be compassionate to yourself by acknowledging that you lost your job at a time when the world is going through upheaval.

Bearing in mind this once-in-a-lifetime scenario, Read says it may be wise to take a once-in-a-lifetime approach to job hunting: cutting yourself a break by looking for work that simply pays the bills instead of trying to take a step up the ladder or jump back on in the same place. Those are things you can work on behind the scenes when you’ve got money coming in again.

Losing your job during a pandemic is a tough situation for anyone to go through, and it’s normal to take a hit to your self-confidence and sense of security. But seeking support and finding ways to take one small step at a time, focusing on the immediate future for now, may well be your best path forward.

If you’re finding things tough right now, there’s support available, including these helplines you can reach out to. Allright.org.nz also has tips and advice on dealing with stress during COVID-19.