For a big chunk of the workforce, COVID-19 has created many challenges. For some, it’s meant totally changing the way we work but for others, it’s unfortunately meant losing a job they loved. Losing your job is a stressful experience, especially if you’re at that particular stage of life where you’ve got bills and mortgages and kids – you know, those things that require at least a modicum of financial stability. The good news for you is that there’s more than one way to greatness, more than one way to make a living, and definitely more than one way to get yourself off the couch, out of your ugg boots and back into the game.

Ready for launch? Here are some suggestions.

1.     Take a deep breath.

So you’ve lost your job? It’s hard not to react emotionally, but when it comes to making your exit, do it gracefully – don’t be that person who gets marched out by security because you upended a conference room table or sent a snarky email. Once you’re out of there, take some time to consider your options if you can, including legal advice if you think you’ve been wrongfully dismissed. Do you need to upskill or reskill? Work on your interpersonal or communication skills? Get some career coaching? In some cases, you might have to face some bigger questions: Did you hate your job? Are you in the wrong career? Is it time for a total life overhaul? As adults, we have few opportunities in life to really reflect on where we’re at and where we want to be, so use your time wisely before you make your next move. A great way to keep building your skills in this ‘period of downtime’ is to look for free learning opportunities or enrol in a short course to explore new topics. This should help you feel more prepared when your next opportunity comes knocking. 

2.     Find the right fit

Maybe you got fired because you were horrible at your job, but did you ever consider that maybe you got fired because your job was horrible for you? When it comes to workplace fit, sometimes a bad fit is worse than no job at all. Look at JK Rowling – her story about wizards and wands and wiffleballs was famously rejected by 12 (TWELVE!) publishers before Rowling found someone who was totally on board with the Harry Potter vision. And there’s a lesson in that for all of us: sometimes it’s worth holding out for the person (or company) that really gets you, your vision and your values. You can achieve a lot more at work if you're not fighting the basic workplace culture. Think carefully about the sort of company you want to work for next, how you want your skills to be used, and the ends to which those skills are going to be applied.

3.     Growth hack yourself

Ready for some nerd talk? Growth hacking is the process of rapid and sustainable growth, of getting a product to a point where it’ll basically market itself. Okay, so actual growth hacking combines stuff like user behaviour, bots and technological experimentation for business growth, but stay with me – you can also apply the basic principles to getting yourself back on your feet. Think of yourself as the product and look critically at your skill set. What are you good at? What are your weaknesses? How do you fill the gaps? It’s all about enhancing your own value proposition to make yourself even more marketable to prospective employers. Get some professional development under your belt – find a mentor, start a short course on blockchain, problem solving or systems thinking, take up an internship or do some volunteering. As well as investing in yourself (this is a growth exercise, after all!) and enhancing your employability, you will also expand your professional networks.

4.     Forge your own path

We’re forced to do lots of crappy work-related stuff on a day-to-day basis. Filling in meaningless forms. Listening to people we don’t respect saying things we don’t agree with. Attending team-building workshops where you have to catch a blindfolded colleague in one of those weird trust activities. But the nature of work is changing, and while that brings with it a whole lot of scary predictions - the robots are coming! we’ll all be out of a job! - it also opens the door to new career opportunities. If your professional expertise is a good fit for consulting or freelancing, think about how you can package those skills into working for yourself. Sure, running a small business can be tough - finding clients, paying your own super, shouldering 100% of the responsibilities - but imagine making your own schedule, being the one others are listening to and never having to make small talk with Cheryl from accounting ever again. Check out the cool people who are forging their own paths at UTS Startups.

5.    Retire young

Just kidding. Who could even do that? Or could you…?

Don’t just let life happen to you. Learn something new with a free online UTS Open course. Build problem solving and systems thinking skills that you can apply anytime, anywhere. Now.