When you lose your job, it's very tempting to lash out at anyone in your path. After all, you've been wronged, so someone needs to take the heat. Everyone expects you to be angry and upset at getting fired or laid off, but don't take the bait. Being outwardly bitter and vituperative will only prevent you from accessing the help you need from your friends and colleagues. While there are no official rules for how to act when you're let go, there are unwritten guidelines to keep in mind.
Don't publicly blame anyone.
With your close friends and family members, if you need to vent and assign blame, go ahead. However, when it comes to the rest of the world, pointing the finger at someone else will only make you look like a sore loser, and no one wants to get involved with a sore loser.
Don't burn any bridges.
Take the high road, no matter how bad your situation was at work. Perhaps you are actually happy to be on the list of layoffs because you couldn't stand your boss or your job, but there's no need to share that information with anyone outside of your closest circle of friends and confidants. Do not speak ill of anyone at your workplace. You know the rule: "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." Follow it and you won't be sorry later.
Don't be a bitter job seeker.
Of course, you have a right to go through your angry phase. Take out your anger at the gym, do not vent in public. Even though you may have been wronged at work, the unfortunate fact is: no one cares. Your bad situation is not their problem. When you insist on letting everyone know why your colleague should be the one looking for work instead of you, you may think you are winning sympathy, but it's more likely you're losing supporters. Those seemingly sympathetic people are probably shaking their heads when they leave you and making a note that they don't want to have anything to do with connecting such an angry, bitter person to their professional network.
Don't tell everyone you got let go because of your age.
Yes, age discrimination is real. However, when you tell everyone you know you were let go because you're a Boomer, and you earned too much money, you are not helping yourself look better. In fact, your comments may trigger people's fears about referring a bitter, over-experienced job seeker to their network of friends and colleagues. Plus, it's just as likely age did not play a specific role in your layoff. Perhaps you weren't keeping up with the skills and experiences your organization required. Mentioning age just makes people wonder and worry if maybe you are out-of-date and too old. This does not help you network to land a new job.
Don't put your head in the sand; prepare.
Don't assume it will be easy to land a new opportunity, so make sure to take action right away to set yourself up to prepare for your job hunt. Prepare your materials, your online presence and your pitch so you will be ready when you have an opportunity to apply for a job or to introduce yourself to a new contact.
Don't go around and tell everyone you're looking for a position.
This may seem like the opposite of the advice you've heard. Yes, you need to tap into your network, but when you approach everyone you know and tell them you are looking for a job, it's unlikely they are going to stop to think about how they can help you. Instead, focus your networking efforts and learn to introduce yourself based on the skills you have and the value you offer. In other words, be the professional you are; don't walk around with a "J" for job seeker on your forehead.
Don't forget online tools can help expand your network and demonstrate your expertise.
Social networking tools can help connect you to new contacts and people who may be willing to refer you for opportunities. Build your online presence so it is easier for people to identify you as being an expert in your field. Be sure your LinkedIn profile is 100% complete and consider what other social networks may make sense for you to use.
Don't spend all of your time online.
It's tempting to sit at the computer and apply for any job that you could reasonably do, but resist this urge. The majority of employers fill jobs via networking, so you should make sure that online applications only take a part of your job search efforts.
Consider the upside.
Sometimes, a layoff or job loss has a silver lining. Be honest with yourself: did you hate your job and always wish you had the guts to try something new? Maybe it's time to start your own business, or to turn a hobby you are passionate about into a full-time, income producing opportunity.
More from Keppie Careers
How to grow your network to get a job
Five tips to start your own business
What not to say when you are looking for a job