Losing a job, whether due to the economic fallout of COVID-19 or for a different reason, is never easy. Choosing to view this time as an opportunity instead of a crisis is commendable and will likely have positive long-term effects on your career path.

Let’s take a look at some practical steps you can take as you embark on a new direction in your life.

Take a giant step back

Before making any efforts to find a new job, take a moment to look at where you stand career-wise. Did you feel trapped at your old job, or were you truly happy? Where do you want to go next? Would a complete pivot really be in your best interest, or would you do better with just a small career shift, such as a change in position within the same field? Are you fine with being at the same level, or would you like to try to get a higher-ranking job title?

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you gain clarity on your future career path:

  • What did I love about my old job?
  • What did I really not like about my old job?
  • Which valuable skills and experience that I gained at my old job can help me move forward?
  • What are my unique strengths and talents?
  • Which parts of my old job played to those strengths?
  • What were my long-term career goals 10, 20, or even 30 years ago?
  • Have I achieved those goals? If not, what has stopped me from reaching them?
  • What’s my secret dream job?
  • Have I always wished I could open a business of my own?

If you have trouble answering some questions, you can do this quick thought exercise: Close your eyes, breathe deeply until you are fully relaxed and try to let your mind float freely. Picture yourself waking up in the morning and going off to your dream job. What job is it? Your subconscious might just help you out here.

Narrow down your choices

Once you have some idea of what you’d like to do now, jot down your job options and review them carefully. Which of these choices is really best for you? Narrow down your list until you have less than five options.

Consider these factors as you work through the list:

  • The career should play to your natural strengths. It’s always easier to hone an existing skill than to try building one up from scratch. You’re also more likely to enjoy a job at which you naturally excel.
  • The expected salary should meet your needs. It can be helpful to review your monthly expenses and spending habits to refresh your memory. To find out if a possible career can adequately meet your financial needs, look up salary averages on Payscale.com.
  • The field or career you choose to pursue should align with your personality. Some people do better in strictly administrative positions, some only feel fulfilled in a “helping job,” while others thrive in careers that require creativity. It’s best if your chosen career matches your particular needs.

Don’t get too bogged down by what your vision of your dream job is. You may see a job position that doesn’t tick all of your boxes, but ends up looking perfect anyways. Don’t limit yourself. You may see a job that sounds very fulfilling, but for a lower salary, for example.

If you’ve chosen to use this opportunity to realize your dream of opening your own business, stop by to learn about the unique products we have available to help you achieve your goal.

Build a great resume

Your resume is your passport to that dream job. Make yours stand out from the pack by polishing it until it truly shines.

Creating a brilliant resume is going to take some work, but you don’t have to go it alone. You can download a basic resume template from Resume GigMy Perfect Resume or Resume Now. You can also hire a professional resume writer. It’s not cheap, but if you’re looking for a managerial job, it can be vital.

As you work on your resume, make sure to include all the basics, including your complete educational background, full career history and a select few references who can vouch for your skills and reliability. It’s also a good idea to highlight accomplishments, such as projects or campaigns you’ve initiated, led and/or successfully completed at your previous place of employment. Triple-check the spelling and grammar and have a friend look it over to provide some feedback before submitting your resume to a potential employer.

Skip phrases like “hard worker” and “good communicator”. These qualities are hard to define on a resume, so instead focus on your skills and accomplishments.

Network and job-hunt

The easiest way to land a dream job is to already have a foot in the door of a company. A friend or family member who knows of a perfect position can help you out here, but only if they know you’re looking for a job. Spread the word to everyone you know. Share your resume with anyone you reach out to so they have a better idea of your career choices. Social media can be a big help here, too, giving your messages a wider spread. Tell them about the kind of job you’re seeking and ask if they know of any open positions that might suit you. They can also help out by providing contacts who can lead you in the right direction. Follow up every few weeks to remind people that you’re still job-hunting.

If friends and family can’t help you out, you can also look up available positions in your chosen field and pursue them directly. Online job boards like Indeed.com and Careerbuilder.com can be a great place to start your search.

Finding that dream job can take several weeks or even several months. You may want to use this time to build up your skills by investing in a course or a lecture series given by a professional in your chosen field.

Hopefully, your efforts will soon pay off and you’ll find that dream career. In a few years’ time, you may look back at your present unemployment and begin to truly appreciate it for the blessing that it was.

How to fill the time inbetween

Sometimes unemployment lasts longer than you expect. Beyond applying to jobs and crafting your resume, there are a lot of things you can do in the meantime.

First of all, if you were laid off, you can apply for unemployment benefits. This can take some time, so you should probably sign up with your state as soon as possible, even if you think that you’ll find a new job quickly. The income from unemployment benefits can be a nice buffer while you’re trying to get back on your feet.

If you have skills such as writing or programming, consider looking for freelance opportunities online. You can likely find some great contract jobs where you can use your skills and spend a few hours a week making some extra money. If you have skills like art or crafting, create some pieces and sell them locally or online. When times are tough, and you have a lot of time on your hands, being a little entrepreneurial can be a great path.

Speaking of skills, this is also a great time to learn new skills! There are a lot of great courses online, both free and paid, that provide certifications for completion. If you really want to take a leap, this could be a great opportunity to go back to school and get a new degree.

Have you used a lost job as an opportunity for growth? Tell us about it in the comments.