Lack of confidence presents a real hurdle to searching for a new job. If you love your job or company, you may want to work there your entire career. But when your position is suddenly eliminated, that loss can strike a damaging blow to your confidence, sense of purpose, and faith in your skill set. But, according to Susan Baushke, a Career Transition & Mobility Consultant for LHH and an independent career coach, until you work through those feelings and rebuild any lost confidence, you will not regain control of your career path.
“A fundamental point to recognize”, Baushke says, “is that suffering a job loss means you are grieving.”
Baushke says, “Candidates who are struggling with grief will say, ‘I’ve never been let go before. I just feel like I’ve been eaten up’, or ‘I don’t trust anybody anymore.’” She says, “It’s important for candidates to regain their sense of power and value in their own abilities, and feel they have an equal seat at the table with prospective employers in deciding their fate. Acceptance is that stage in the grieving process when you’ve made peace with what is and are ready to move forward.”
Baushke recognizes that, especially if it’s your first time being laid off, there can be feelings of embarrassment. “There’s no stigma to being part of a downsizing or a reduction in force,” she says. “The cause wasn’t you. You don’t have to defend anything. When people ask why you are looking, say: ‘My company recently went through a reorganization. My position was one of many that was eliminated. Now, I’m looking to bring my skills in [x, y, z] to my next employer.’”
Employers will want to know that you aren’t holding onto any negative feelings about your transition and are ready to bring your value to their position and build a future with them.
“Employers want a confident candidate in the interview,” she says. “You create a confident impression through your resume, your body language, your voice, the entire package you bring to the table. So, practice. Practice talking about your situation and goals in the mirror or with a friend. Record yourself on video. Write out your value. Use the people who know you best to get through that grief so you can present yourself to prospective employers and project confidence.”
If you have the economic means to wait, and work through any grief before you interview with target employers, she advises you to do so. “It’s okay if you aren’t ready to begin right away,” she says. “Just don’t put your job search on the back burner. Push forward.”
Baushke suggests you start by talking to people who have been influential or important contributors to your career. Learn what they see as your strengths. Ask, “If you described me to somebody, what would you say about me?” Contact past colleagues to let them know your situation and where you want to go from here. Start with those you know best, and work your way outwards, becoming more self-assured at each interaction. This will help to restore your confidence and they’ll be there to champion your cause and be advocates.
And people need to see that confidence and clarity of intention when you talk. “If you’re anxious or angry, or desperate, it will be noticeable in interviews,” she says. “Those things show up because you are thinking of the past. You have more to offer now. Remember your value and smile. A genuine smile will automatically project confidence.”
Remember, you are going through the stages of grief, but that doesn’t mean you are in a weaker position to find fulfilling employment. Don’t let yourself feel stuck or disadvantaged. “The key is understanding what you really want to do and what value you bring,” Baushke says. “So, stop thinking about the employer being in the sole position of power. Because, especially today as companies struggle with talent scarcity, high quality talent has an advantage.”