If you’ve just been retrenched, one of the first things you’ll probably want to do is take a break. This is a excellent idea, as it will help you to think about what to do next—but must be within bounds! Even if you’ve not received a large retrenchment payout, limit yourself to only a few days. This will still allow you to think about what you want to do next in your career (and help to reduce any residual anger), but you’ll be much more likely to be able to get into the mindset needed to get employed again than if you took a long break.
Your job now is to get back into paid employment. Key to this is setting up ground rules for yourself and those who live with you. The last thing you need is to find your PC reconfigured when you turn it on in the morning, or to be interrupted during a phone interview. It’s also important to strike the right balance between time for yourself and time spent on the job hunting activity—particularly as the job hunting may take several weeks or even months.
One of the easiest and best ways to achieve this is to view job hunting similarly to an office job. This brings the efficiency of office working into the process, and is probably a quantity that you’ve previously been used to balancing with your home life. Key to this is establishing a routine. Have the same start time each day, take breaks, and stay focused.
You may have been lucky enough to have obtained access to a serviced office as part of your retrenchment package. However, most likely, you’ll need to set up some kind of desk for yourself at home. Set yourself up with a desk with enough space for a computer, notepad, and open book. You should also have as a minimum: a personal computer with a word processor, printer, and dedicated phone line (eg. your own mobile/cell phone) —without spending too much time on polishing the details (an easy trap to fall into). The word processor should be Microsoft Word, compatible with version 97/2003—as almost all electronic applications will require either this or text format. Compatible software is available that’s compatible with Word, but a prospective interviewer not being able to load your CV properly even once is not a risk worth taking.
Working from a home office is difficult. In fact, probably the only easy thing about it is the commute! You’ll be distracted by family, home life, your hobbies, the kitchen, TV, etc. If you have family at home during the day, find somewhere in the house where you can close the door and shut out distractions. This is also critical when you’re doing phone interviews. Establish rules with family members supporting your need to have private time.
The need for you to attend an interview may come at short notice. Have appropriate work dress (eg. suit and ironed shirts/blouses/etc.) ready. You may even find it useful to dress in a suit or office dress each day when you go to work in your office. This may sound too much, but this can help to provide a clear boundary between home and work.
The whole process of job hunting strikes at the core of who you are—at least professionally. Rejection and “aligning your expectations” can be a very miserable process. Staying positive is key. Practically speaking, this means remembering to celebrate successes—even small ones like landing an interview—and keeping a life going in parallel with your job search. Potential employers will easily detect desperation, so a positive, professional attitude is essential. And when you do get rejected for a particular role, try to move as quickly from being defensive to identifying (a) that the role may not have been the best for your strengths and weaknesses, and (b) there may have been someone who was exactly suited for that role—ie. more than you. It means that you are still free to find a role that you are best suited for.
A positive attitude has a snowball effect. If you are maintaining a steady flow of realistic job applications, it won’t be long before you’re asked in for interviews and you’ll really feel progress. Then, succeed at the interviews and you’ll get job offers!