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You’ve Lost Your Job, Now What

At ex judicata, we are all about helping lawyers get nonlegal jobs. Before launching, we spoke with scores of lawyers who transitioned to fulfilling careers and happier lives.  A significant number mentioned being fired as the best thing that ever happened to them.  Of course, that’s with hindsight but it is exactly what plays out so often in the work world.  Getting fired forces you to take risks you otherwise might not have taken.

Still, getting fired impacts you on so many levels. In this article, we offer practical suggestions on how to move forward as you try to get your arms around what has happened.

Lots of people lose their jobs, especially in an economic downturn, so you’re not alone.

But losing a job is both depressing and scary, and finding a new job is challenging and stressful. It’s important to take the right steps at the right time, and cultivating resilience can help you navigate the difficulties so you can bounce back stronger.

Here are some important steps to take after losing a job to set you on the path to finding your next job, the right one for you: 

Take time to grieve: Before updating your resume, making calls or checking job boards, take time to grieve. It’s important to acknowledge and accept your feelings and process them rather than suppress them. Likely you feel disappointed, frustrated, angry or fearful. Perhaps you feel all four.

Assess and address your financial situation: Review your employment agreement and severance package to understand the terms of your departure. Note any provisions related to severance pay, unused vacation or sick days, and noncompetition agreements. If you have any questions, seek clarification from your employer or consult with an employment lawyer. Assess your financial situation. File for unemployment benefits if you are entitled to them. Consider freelance or other temporary work arrangements to tide you over while you look for a new job.  Platforms like Fiverr and Upwork have made it super easy.

Take care of yourself: Prioritize self-care during this transition period. Maintain a routine. Engage in activities you enjoy, ones that promote physical and mental well-being, such as exercise, mindfulness, and hobbies. These activities can reduce stress, boost your resilience, and improve your overall outlook and well-being.

Build a support network: Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends, family, mentors, and professional contacts. Let them know about your skills and the type of work you’d like to do. Talk to people you can trust who can give you guidance, encouragement, and practical assistance. Seek support from professional counselors, if needed.

Maintain a positive mindset: Naturally, you have negative thoughts about losing your job, but consider this an opportunity to make a change to a career you will enjoy more. Consider your interests. Focus on what lies ahead and the potential for personal and professional growth and satisfaction.

Evaluate and hone your skills: Losing a job provides an opportunity for self-reflection and learning. Take the time to evaluate your previous job and your performance, identify areas in which you can improve, and consider what you want in your next role before taking the leap. This is that opportunity to leave a law job you don’t enjoy and use your skills in a nonlegal role. If you need to sharpen your skills, this is a good time to read up on what you need to know, Enroll in a workshop. Take a course to acquire skills you may lack. Review job postings and, if you fall short in required skills, work on developing them.

Set out a plan with realistic goals: Start by identifying both short-term and long-term career-related goals, skill development goals, and personal life aspirations. Break everything down into manageable steps and devise a plan for working toward accomplishing them. Setting clear and realistic goals and taking the necessary steps to achieve them will give you direction,  purpose, and a sense of control and accomplishment.

Map out that plan, consider your options, and what you’d like to do. Evaluate your skills, strengths, and weaknesses, and consider ways to enhance your marketability.

Explore career options and enhance your skills: Take this opportunity to reassess your career goals and interests. Consider additional education or training. This is an opportunity for you to consider a career change. Research industries that align with your passions. Identify any skills or knowledge you lack and then take online courses, attend workshops, or pursue certifications to enhance your skill set and make you more competitive in the job market.

Be proactive in your job search: Treat your job search as a project and stay proactive. Update your resume, your LinkedIn page, and other online profiles. Review jobs of interest and then tailor your resume to highlight your skills, experience, and achievements. Lawyer skills translate well for many corporate roles. Find ways to convey how your experience and skill set make you an exceptional candidate for the job you seek. Draft a compelling cover letter that demonstrates your interest and suitability for prospective roles. Emphasize your most relevant qualifications to capture the attention of potential employers.

Network: Networking can also lead to new job opportunities and connections that may help you in your job search. But don’t ask people outright for a job. It makes you seem desperate or pushy. It puts them on the spot and makes them uncomfortable. Instead, let people know that you are interested and available for job opportunities. Share your skill set. That’s far more effective and strategic. Attend job fairs, industry groups, and networking events. Explore ex judicata’s job board, which focuses on careers for attorneys interested in leaving law. Dedicate time each day for job searching and networking activities.

By expressing your interest and availability, you’re allowing others to help you without making them feel pressured or obligated to find you a job immediately. By making your intentions known, you increase the chances of being referred to relevant contacts or being informed about potential job opportunities that may not be publicly advertised. And, when you share your skill set, you give people an opportunity to make recommendations and suggestions based on your skills, experiences, and interests. They may be able to guide you toward specific companies or roles that align well with your background and aspirations. Someone in your network might be aware of unadvertised positions or have connections within companies that could lead to potential job opportunities.

Further, expressing interest and availability rather than directly asking for a job helps maintain a professional image. It demonstrates your proactive attitude and eagerness to contribute to the field or industry, rather than simply seeking a job out of necessity. This can positively impact your reputation and increase the likelihood that you’ll be considered for suitable positions.

Prepare for interviews: Research the company you are interviewing with to familiarize yourself with their culture, values, products and services so you can show your knowledge and interest in the company. Practice common interview questions and prepare compelling answers that highlight your qualifications and experiences.

Finally, remember that losing a job is a temporary setback, and in time, with perseverance and the right mindset, you will find new opportunities. Stay positive, stay focused, and continue taking proactive steps toward securing your next job.

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