184. How to tell people you lost your job: The challenging art of networking after a layoffMay 01, 2023
When you lose your job, it can be so hard to tell people what happened. The same is true when you haven't had a job for a long time - it can be so hard to network and have to answer the question we often get: "What do you do?"
So in this episode, I will talk about how I have told people I lost my job in the past when I was still in the corporate sector. I also provide insight, as a career coach supporting many professionals, how I see other professionals doing it more recently.
This episode will be helpful if you have been laid off or if you have not worked for a while and want to go back into networking as part of your job search strategy.
When you lose your job, do this first
I start by discussing what I believe is an important first step: Telling your inner circle. I suggest confiding in a couple of people you trust who won't judge you and provide immediate emotional support. If you don't have such people, consider reaching out to a helpline. I once received a message from a podcast listener telling me how comforting it was for him to listen to the podcast. He had been getting ready for work and driving around his town listening to this podcast for weeks and had not yet told anybody he had lost his job. It broke my heart.
The trap of being too attached to your job
When it comes to people you've worked with and friends and family, take your time to tell them, and it's okay to not know what to say at first. Networking can also be challenging when you're not working, and people often ask, "What do you do?" But you're more than your job title, and it's essential to introduce yourself by your field and acknowledge that your experience is yours to keep and share.
We can actually become better at helping the corporate world evolve and stop focusing so much on the job we have and instead focus more on getting to know each other as a person. Many of us fall into the trap of asking, "What do you do?" during conversations, so it's crucial to remember that a person's job doesn't define them. Instead, we can ask other questions like, "What fills your time?" or "What are you great at professionally or personally?"
I hope this episode provides you with valuable insights and helps you navigate the challenges of telling people you've lost your job or answering the "What do you do?" question during networking events. Remember, your worth and identity go beyond your job title.
Timestamps to guide your listening:
- 04:03 - Telling your inner circle
- 09:06 - Answering the "What do you do?" question when you're not working.
- 11:12 - When your job has been the backbone of your identity
- 14:42 - When you also feel betrayed by your employer
- 17:37 - How we can make it better for others.
Links mentioned in this episode: