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By Terry Lende, careers specialist

Hey, wait a minute! Isn’t this a column about how to find work? Yes, it is. On the other hand, the reality is that employment from "cradle to grave" is the exception rather than the rule.

Think about your situation and those of your friends and family. In my work, I am seeing fewer and fewer individuals with 20-plus years of employment with the same company. By choice or otherwise, you are likely have the experience of unemployment. So how do you navigate successfully through job loss?

Here are some tips to consider:

  • Be strategic. A natural reaction to job loss can be a sense of an immediate need to go out and look for work – any work. Remember, you can’t do everything and there are jobs you wouldn’t do. Take a step back to evaluate your career plan. Be proactive, not reactive. The first opportunity isn’t necessarily the right one and the first offer isn’t necessarily the best one. It is better to go out from a position of strength and confidence rather than from a feeling of panic.
  • Understand the difference between change and transition. Change is an external event. It takes place within specific parameters. You can recall the precise date, time and place when you were notified that your employment had ended. The transition you experience to assimilate that change takes place over a period of time. Transition does not have specific parameters and is unique to the individual. Give yourself time to come to terms with job loss. If you don’t go through it will come back to bite you. Treat yourself as well as you would a good friend.
  • Don’t burn bridges. While there are some things that are beyond your control, you can control how you respond to job loss and thereby also positively control your reputation in the market place. Never ever speak poorly of your previous company, boss or co-workers. This can have a negative impact on your search. Always take the high road.
  • Enlist the help of others when you are ready. Often times after job loss you may receive calls from colleagues asking how they can be of help. These calls are important. When someone calls shortly after job loss, tell the person how much his/her call means to you. Tell them you are getting things in order and will call back when you have a better idea of your next steps. Remember, former colleagues are part of your future network and may be potential references. Family members are another important resource. Share your feelings openly and honestly with your family. Let them know what you are doing and how they can help.
  • Believe you will succeed. To quote Henry Ford: "Whether you think you can, or think you can’t – you’re right." A positive attitude is reflected in what you do and how you do it. Often times job loss can be a significant opportunity. No, not necessarily on the first day. And I would never presume to tell you this could be the best thing that could ever happened to you. But, I will tell you what my candidates tell me – and that is that job loss can be the catalyst to finding opportunities and environments that are challenging and rewarding.

I wish you success no matter where your journey takes you!

More great career tips from Terry Lende:

Terry Lende is Vice President Professional Services & Operations with global talent mobility firm Lee Hecht Harrison, providing operational leadership for career transition services in Western Canada. She is an accomplished business leader with 25 years’ experience in program development, facilitation, client relationship management, training and coaching at all organizational levels.