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by SixFigureStart | January 13, 2009


I know the holidays are weeks over, but imagine if you will, Nat King Cole singing "I know it's been said, many times, many ways…"  He could have been talking about all that fragmentary advice people hand out to the recently laid off.  But far be it from me to tell you how to find a new job.  Rather, my goal is to help you keep your sanity in the weeks -- or, heaven forbid, months -- ahead by offering these five recommendations.


1.  Keep a positive attitude about the experience – or even better, a sense of humor.


Regardless of the undoubted stress and uncertainty ahead, read this next line as a test of your ability to look on the light side: Congratulations on your selection as a member of the Class of 2008, consisting of 2.6 million newly-minted unemployees!  If that statement provokes even the smallest hint of a smile, you can skip ahead to No. 2.


Perhaps the reason you were let go over the poor shmoe in the next cubicle was due to the fact that you were hired after he was.  Or the department was overstaffed, or your boss didn't have enough pull to save you.  What it boils down to, in any case: It was out of your control, and there was nothing you could have done differently.  If you were laid off for a more concrete reason, it still doesn't matter; it's already done.  The sooner you can compartmentalize the experience the better, since it will allow you to move forward mentally.  And prospective employers hate a job applicant with a grudge.   


2.  About your friends and family -- don't hide from them.


They all love you (well, more or less), so don't isolate yourself, which will probably just serve to make you feel more miserable.  In addition, the positive attitude gained in step No. 1 above will make you more approachable to your family, and keep your pals from feeling uncomfortable whenever you appear within their sightlines.  Use these people to prop up your self-esteem and fill up your (now empty) days.  The same goes for former colleagues, both working and non-working.  Of course, all these relationships will come in handy later on, either as sounding boards or as potential contact points from which to network.


3. Keep up a routine -- any routine.


Everyone enjoys at least some structure in their life; some people live for routine at work, while others, who put out 50 figurative fires at the job every day, do the same thing in the same manner every time they step through their front door.  At first the lack of structure one finds just after a layoff is liberating -- I confess, after a week or two of running errands, taking in the latest movies and burning untold hours brushing up on my favorite 80s bands on the Internet, I told my sister "I'm too busy to get a job."  But just as quickly it becomes a burden.  Maintaining some sort of a regular (and healthy) waking/eating/exercise schedule will help your mind stay sharp and undistracted for the career-making tasks ahead.  


4. Don't just stand there…


There's no reason you can't be constructive with your non-job searching time. Register for that landscape painting class that has always intrigued you.  Or get certified in CPR.  Or join a book club.  Besides fulfilling your creative and/or educational needs, the experiences will hopefully establish a whole new set of acquaintances, which you can tap (professionally) later on.  Don't forget to stay abreast of what's happening in your chosen field -- read all those trade magazines and papers online or at the library. 


5. Treat yourself -- then get to work!


One final thing.  Joblessness is a drag, yes, but don't get mired in an endless cycle of penny-pinching just because there are no incoming funds.  When you're finally ready to give up your life of unintended leisure, indulge in a last little splurge: a reasonably-priced steak dinner out, a rocking new tie, some designer cosmetics.  Instead of feeling guilty the next day, begin your search for meaningful employment.  Establish a schedule of attainable goals for the hunt, and reward yourself upon meeting each one. (Yes, bribery works, even if you're the only person involved.)  


--Posted by Todd Obolsky, Vault Staff Writer