When you’ve been laid off, you may want—or need—to find another job right away. But you might want to consider another possibility: giving yourself time to explore your options. Your layoff could be the crisis that leads you to new opportunities.
The following steps will help you discover what you want from your life and work now—and what you can do to make it happen.
Get reacquainted with yourself and your goals:
- Identify what’s important to you now. Check out the self-assessment quizzes.
- Learn more about your work values and preferences. This allows you to recognize a good fit between you and any job you’re considering in the future. Check out the exercise Your Workplace Needs and Wants in the publication Advanced Techniques for Work Search.
- Visualize your future to help you stay focused and energized. Try this exercise:
- Find a place where you won’t be disturbed. Breathe deeply and relax.
- Ask yourself, “If I could be or do anything, anywhere, anytime, what would I be doing? What would I be working at? How would I spend my personal time?” Take your time finding the answers. Try not to limit yourself.
- Picture what you want clearly in your mind. Who are you with? What are you doing? How do you feel?
- Take a moment to record your thoughts in detail.
- Assess your skills and abilities. Identify your transferable skills using this Conference Board of Canada checklist.
- Evaluate your work-specific skills using this accomplishments and skills (PDF) exercise.
Explore your options
Take some time to examine all of your options. Consider the following possibilities:
- Find a new job in the same field. This may be a good choice for you if
- jobs are available where you want to live
- the economic outlook for your industry is favourable
- jobs in this sector are likely to be secure
- you’re qualified for the positions you would apply for
- you enjoy the work
- working in this field will help you achieve your personal and career goals
- Relocate to another town, city, province or even country. Think about each location you’re considering in light of the following factors:
- unemployment rate
- job openings in your field
- moving costs
- vacancy rates and housing costs
- cost of living
- effect on family and friends
- Change your occupation. Start exploring the possibilities:
- What are your reasons for wanting to change occupations?
- Have you done any career planning? Check out career planning.
- What are the employment prospects in your new occupation?
- Are you willing and able to update your training or education in order to find employment in your new field?
- Go back to school.There are many alternatives available, from online courses to apprenticeship programs. Answering these questions will help you decide:
- Will going back to school advance your career?
- Can you pay for your learning? Are you eligible for special funding or student loans? Check out Paying for Your Education.
- Have you researched your educational options? Do you have the prerequisites you need? To find out, visit the Educational Programs on OCCinfo.
- Start your own business. Learn more about working for yourself at Self-Employment.
- Retire. It isn’t an option for everyone, but if you’re thinking about retirement, consider the following:
- Do you really want to retire or do you feel you have no choice?
- Can you afford to retire?
- Have you done any retirement planning?
- Will retirement or semi-retirement help you reach your goals?
- Volunteer to build your career, learn new skills and get work experience. Find out more at Volunteer Alberta. For more information about volunteering, see Other Relevant Tips.
To make effective choices about your future, find out all you can about the options you’re interested in.
Make your choices and set goals
When you’ve gathered information about your options, it’s time to weigh the pros and cons of each choice and make a decision.
Once you’ve made a decision, set goals. Effective goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-oriented and Time-targeted. Writing down your goals can help you achieve them.
Develop an action plan
An action plan is a step-by-step plan to reach your goals. Create an action plan by working backwards from your goals. Break each goal into smaller steps and figure out what you must do to achieve them. For more information about action planning, check out the publication Creating a New Future: The Job-Loss Workbook.
It may seem hard to believe that your job loss could turn out to be an opportunity to make a positive change. Yet many people who have taken the time to do some exploring in the midst of their job loss have gone on to discover fulfilling options they hadn’t considered before. You could be one of them.