shutterstock_188829839Losing your job isn’t something we, as employees, tend to welcome with open arms. However, it’s the ultimate opportunity to turn the proverbial lemons into lemonade – all you need to do is plan your next steps carefully. These four strategies show you how.

Hit the ‘pause’ button
When you’ve been given the news that your job is being made redundant, your first instinct might be to either hammer your go-to job boards, recruitment contacts and LinkedIn profile, or to treat yourself to a long vacation. Neither is a bad thing, but may not be right in the long term; the best approach falls somewhere in between.

Remember that you’re well within your rights to request some time off to process the news, and to ask what your rights and obligations are.

You’re likely to be feeling a lot of things – shock, grief, anger, panic, a sense of freedom even – so in the immediate aftermath, take some time to sift through those feelings and talk to your loved ones (you may even benefit from sharing any heavier feelings with a professional).

Suddenly not having a job to go to leaves a, well, job-shaped hole in your life, and it’s human nature to fill a void with something. Our advice? Take a few days to recover from the shock and allow yourself a few days off – perhaps a week – just to decompress.

Assess your options – be brutally honest
Redundancy forces you to confront – look around you – if this is where you want to be professionally, and in life. It’s a question most of us have asked ourselves at some point, daydreaming and plotting our escapes from jobs that didn’t challenge or fulfil us – or put us at odds with the kind of family life we wished to cultivate.

Consider how you can create and discover new and meaningful opportunities. Do you need training to sharpen your skills? Would networking groups and events be of any use? Do you – whisper it – want a radical change of scenery and career?

If your employer offers outplacement support, make the most of it and get as much advice as you can. Use this to reassess your CV and interview skills, your network and place within the industry, and your approach to your next job.

Protect your time and develop your ‘brand’
Finding your next role takes as much time as a full-time job, so be strategic and specific with the contacts you target (don’t sign up for every job board you see; only speak to people who deal with your specific industry). Your time is still valuable, so spend it only following up opportunities that are relevant. Looking for a new role can be a panic-stricken wild-goose chase otherwise, and that seeps into how you present yourself at events and interviews.

Take a good look at your social networks, blogs, and portfolios to make sure they’re consistent with your CV, if they’re listed on there – and if not, make sure your privacy settings are locked down. Cross-reference your CV with your LinkedIn profile (Pro tip: copy and paste your CV into your LinkedIn, and edit for brevity).

Go outside and play
It’s easy to say ‘stay positive’, but in practice this means ‘relax’.

You’re not going to get wildly different results at 8pm scouring the same job boards as you were at 8am. And if you’re online in the evenings doing a full-on job search, we’ll just say this: Step away from the computer! You won’t miss anything, we promise.

If you’re doing all you can to secure a new position, step back from your efforts and trust in the process.