Secrets of What to Do When You Lose Your Job
By Charles A. Breeding

You might not believe this, but I’ve worked for six companies in the last six years. Some of you might respond, “You can’t keep a job, huh, Charlie?” You might be right, and that’s why I’m self-employed now.

Honestly, it’s not something that I’m proud, and I somewhat rationalize two things: I worked in technology where it’s very common to have upheaval and lots of change, especially in tech sales, and two: three of the six were “horses shot out from under me.” Startups sometimes capsize. I worked in “e-Learning” field which is a young, immature, and tumultuous industry. Enough rationalization…

If you’re asking yourself, “How has this guy earned the right to talk about this subject, now you have a sense because in each instance, I had a new job within 90 days of being let go, or leaving. And the last time I transitioned, I had three job offers within 2 weeks of one another!

In addition, in 1999-2000 I worked for then, Interim Career Consulting, which is now Spherion Human Capital Consulting ($4 billion/year) whose main forte was executive career transition services. Let me share what my experiences can do to assist you during this scary time.

Cleverly Disguised Opportunity
It’s April 25, 2006 and while driving back from sales calls in Norfolk, VA, my boss calls me on my cell phone and says, “Charlie, the company is re-positioning itself to focus back on Commercial business (I worked FedGov/DoD), and reducing its footprint in the Federal Government market. I’m sorry, but today is your last day… and you have two weeks of severance.”

While I’m shocked (8 months with this company) and a bit angry, I tell myself – “This is a Cleverly Disguised Opportunity” to make more money, work for a company whose products I believe in more, and for a boss that I can respect and follow.

Two hours later, I pull into my driveway of our home and I’m immediately met by Jeremy, our 13 year old and Sarah, then 5 years old who tells me, “Daddy, daddy – it’s our lucky day! We found a four-leaf clover.” I replied, “Yes, indeed IT IS MY LUCKY DAY TODAY!”

How many times in your life have you had something BAD happen only to realize later that it was a blessing, meant-to-be, and thank goodness it did happen?

Now, when you are in the first few days of learning that you lost your job, this may seem like so much PMA, or Positive Mental Attitude. But heed this: your thoughts determine your feelings, so control your feelings by dwelling on the right things. Tell yourself that this is a cleverly disguised opportunity. As Dale Carnegie said, too, “Count your blessings, not your troubles” especially before you slip off into slumber, falling asleep. You’ll wake up in a better mood, and improve the quality of your sleep as well.

Six Strategies for Finding a New, Better Job FAST

1. Re-evaluate and Set a Goal: the day you lose a job, don’t do what most people do which is fret, worry and become upset and dust off their resume. Instead, take a few days OFF to re-evaluate your career and job goals. This is a perfect time to consider do I start my own business, should I perform contract work vs. fulltime (can be richer than fulltime work), do I work for a small startup next or a big company? Next, set a goal: if it’s say, May 15th your goal might be, “By August 30th, I will have three job offers of $xxxxx amount or more… and a difficult decision to make.” Live by this rule: “It’s EASY to make GOOD decisions when you have NO BAD options!”
2. Resume: know that today, resumes are rarely actually read by a person in large companies, rather they are scanned. So for example, in my last job search, I had 87 versions of my resume! Why? Because I purposely sought to match the keywords in the job requirement with my resume editing. Your cover letter is equally, very important and again, match it up as well as you can ethically with the job requirements of the position you’re seeking.
3. Research says that the number ONE way people find a new job is … networking! Here are my real points: finding a job is a fulltime job. What that means to you is that from 8AM – 5PM, you’re doing nothing but your job search. No errands, no goof-off time. How do you network? Ask friends, colleagues or yes, even cold-call a manager at a company you might want to work and say, “I’m calling you today NOT for a job, but for an Informational Interview. I’m currently in transition, and I have about 5-7 questions that I’d like to ask you over lunch… and I’m buying.” You’d be amazed how if you do 2-3 of these a week, you’ll experience unusual “coincidences” that lead you to a new position quickly. By the way, there is no such thing as coincidence, since the root word is coincide, which in mathematical terms means two angles which meet up precisely. Network, network, network … start off by simply saying, “Can you help me?” and you’ll be amazed how many people will assist you in your search.
4. Focus and Target – keep this in mind: your next employer didn’t choose you, you chose them. It is very important to determine exactly the size of company you want to work, the type of work, the boss you’d like to have, and truly visualize the ideal company. This way, you’re shooting with a rifle, not a shotgun. Let me give you an example: if you recall, I worked in the learning or e-learning field. One of the magazines in the industry is Chief Learning Officer magazine, and on their website they make available The Sourcebook. It contains the phone number, contact name and website (which I went to their website and emailed the CEO or VP, Sales) – it was a goldmine to me. It took me five weeks, but I got through over 75 pages of listings. Go to your local library and talk to the librarian about “sourcebooks” in your industry or area of interest. You’ll be amazed what you find there, and although this is step# 4, you need to do this at the front-end of your job search, returning every month or so to find more helpful resources.
5. Recruiters – I have a love-hate relationship with recruiters, but mostly love. Like any profession, there are good ones and there are just greedy ones. Know that some recruiters are “retained search” and can’t really assist you, unless your qualifications match up well to their client’s requirements. Where do you find them? Look in your phone book, or while you’re at the library, there’s a resource book I believe that contains recruiters names. What you want, however is recruiters with your industry as their focus, so ask some of your former colleagues for recruiter’s names (they’ll happy share it, wanting to help you land at your next job). Out of my last six jobs, only one came from a recruiter, but remember it’s easy to make good decisions when you have no bad options – and recruiters can provide you viable options. Be kind to them, and treat their time as precious … because it is. Be coachable.
6. Job Sites – Job sites like and others are very useful, but what my experience has been is that you can consume a LOT of time going through job postings. Use the site’s Search Tools to automatically inform you (daily or weekly) of job postings that meet your criteria. Google is indispensable as well as you should research your interested new employer before you interview with them. Preparation is absolutely key.
Recall that one of your options is to start your own business. Most people do not know that in 1986, Congress created IRS laws that highly reward the home-based business – whether that is MLM or Multi-level marketing, of which I’m a fan in some instances along with Robert Kiosocki (Rich Man, Poor Man and Cash Flow Quatrants), or providing a service or product.

I’ve personally coached many people in transition to self-employment. If you’d like to discuss your ideas, email me at or call me if you're coachable at the phone number listed on

In summary, embrace the fact that job-search is a full-time job – one that takes research, an intelligent, well-formed resume, and lots of networking to people you know, and people you don’t know… yet.

Author's Bio: 

Charlie Breeding is President of Performance Improvement Institute, an Internet Information provider, publisher and professional speaking, coaching, consulting and training firm.
Mr. Breeding is a graduate of the US Military Academy, West Point and has worked in the Performance Improvement area for over 23 years – fifteen years with Dale Carnegie Training, and two years with FranklinCovey.
His clients include colleges/ universities, non-for-profits, small, medium-sized and large organizations such as AT&T, Chrysler, and Lucent Technologies. For organizations, more information can be obtained at and for individuals, go to PEP = Productivity, Execution & Performance. His second book, Breeding Trust will be published in late 2007.