You’ve Just Lost Your Job. Now What?

In today’s tumultuous retail environment, it’s happening all the time. It could be downsizing, a corporate buyout, store closing, or even an entire company going out of business. It’s reported that over 9300 retail stores were closed in 2019. And a few retailers, like Payless and Toys“R”Us, are gone for good. The days of forty years with one company and a gold watch are gone. At some point, most professionals in retail will be looking for a new job. You need to be ready.

In today’s world of job search, the internet is your friend. But remember, it’s not your only friend. Yes, it will play a major part in research, resume distribution, and tips. But never forget—personal contact and conversation is usually more effective. It’s harder to do. You have to work at it. But do it. So, what’s next?

Make a plan. Define your goals and hoped-for time frames but be realistic. List all the things you need to do. Stick to the list and constantly update it.

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Make a budget. You’re going to need one. Most people under the age of 55 have less that $4,100 in their readily accessible bank accounts. And now, other than hopefully some severance, you have no income. Life is going to change, at least for a while. Be ready with a tight budget.

Update your resume. Don’t lie! It’s estimated that at least 60 percent of job seekers “embellish” their resumes. Don’t be one of them. And use the internet to research a resume style that best fits your needs and job goals. And by all means, no typos, please.

You now have a new job—finding one. You should work at finding this new job just as hard as you worked at the last one. One hour a day searching the internet is not going to do it. Being successful at landing a job you really want takes strategy, long hours, and hard work. It’s not easy and usually not fun. But you’ve got to stick with it.

Use job search sites. Fortunately for the modern job seeker, there are a number of good ones. Indeed, Career Builder, LinkedIn, Monster and Glassdoor are just a few. There are many others. Don’t forget company career pages. And, if you are reading this, there is a good chance you may be involved with retail loss prevention. If so, be sure you go to

Practice interviewing. There are a number of websites that can help with this. They can give you frequently asked interview questions and how best to answer them, especially the one “why did you lose your job?” Again, be truthful. Also, practice and role play with a partner. And, for any interview, dress for success. That may look different for different companies but try to find out what works for each.

Network, network, network. It’s said that most people find jobs through their contacts, not through the internet. Hopefully you’ve made a lot of contacts throughout your career. Now is the time to use those contacts. Use the phone first; make it personal. Tell them your situation and ask for their advice, help, and support. Keep in touch with them and update your search progress. Everyone says they will do “anything to help.” In reality, they usually don’t. But I only takes one. And, if you are still working, make it a goal to develop as many positive contacts as you can. You may need them someday.

Phone a friend. Not only can a good friend be a great contact; they can also help in cheering you up and providing moral support during the difficult job search process.

Find a headhunter; make it personal. Headhunters are responsible for finding qualified candidates to fill jobs. They are usually retained by companies. Many often specialize in a particular industry or type of job. Reach out and try to make personal contact, don’t just send a resume. Good headhunters get hundreds of unsolicited resumes each week. Personal contact and a discussion of your situation and goals is the way to go if you can do it. Work at it.

Choose references carefully. You will probably need personal references once you become a serious candidate for a job. Think who you will use as references. Talk to them in advance. Tell them about your situation, your goals, and your progress. Let them know at any point you think there is a good chance they will be called about you for a specific job.

Take advantage of your time off. Have some fun. Spend more time with your kids, grandkids, spouse, partner, and friends. Do things you didn’t have time to do when you were working. Travel some if you can afford it. But remember, you have a job to do so don’t take too much time off having fun.

Get in shape or stay in shape. Exercise at home. Go to the gym. Take a walk. Lose some weight if you need to. Go to the doctor. You will feel better and look better. Looking better can never hurt in an interview.

Stay positive. It’s easy to say and sometimes hard to do when you’re unemployed. But a new job will happen, hopefully sooner than later. But it will happen.

So, if you’re searching, best of luck. And remember, try to be prepared in advance, just in case.

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