Most of us have very specific, very optimistic, and very linear expectations about the timeline of our professional lives: Go to college, have lots of fun, graduate in four years, get a job at a kick-butt company, get promoted within said kick-butt company, and maintain a blissful level of career satisfaction until retirement. But even the most upbeat people out there should know this timeline is a little too good to be true. But we don’t often consider a very real professional setback that could happen to pretty much anyone and does happen to many: layoffs. If you were recently laid off and feeling overwhelmed and even a little lost, these five business professionals are here to guide you through what to do.

Worried looking woman in office

1. Gain perspective. Getting laid off is not the same thing as being fired, and any true professional knows this. Nate Masterson, the human resources manager for Maple Holistics, a beauty and wellness company dedicated to natural products, encourages constantly reminding yourself this. “One thing to consider about getting laid off, as opposed to getting fired, is that the decision was more objective than subjective,” he says. “Although being laid off is disheartening, try to focus on the idea that you were not let go as a result of your abilities.” Once you’ve recognized this fact, you’ll have the confidence to take the next steps.

2. Maintain your routine. We know how tempting the thought of going to bed without having to set an alarm is, but John Crossman, CEO of real estate firm Crossman & Company, stresses the importance of sticking to your regular schedule and, perhaps, even improving upon it post-job. “Here is the plan: Eat healthy, exercise, drink water, get rest,” he says. “Live like you still have a job. Get up at the same time, get dressed, and spend your working hours getting a new job.” If you’re awake and ready for the day, you’ll have no reason to avoid sending out those killer applications.

3. Keep your support system close. Even though this sitch can put a serious damper on your self-esteem, now isn’t the time to seclude yourself. Dana Case, director of operations at MyCorporation, a company that provides services for starting and running a business, suggests confiding in family, friends, and mentors. “One of the best things to do after a layoff is to surround yourself with a solid support system,” Case explains. “They will be able to provide emotional support as well as advice on what to do next.” And a third perk? Potential business connections!

4. Take advantage of the situation. Your company might have left you jobless, but hopefully, it didn’t leave you totally high and dry. In fact, the layoff might come with a severance package, employment transition services, and the like. Laura Handrick, careers analyst for Fit Small Business, an online resource for small businesses, says these offerings provide the opportunity to leave a good impression on your current employer, which will, in turn, help guarantee a good reference once the job hunt commences. “For example, if transition services, like resume writing, interviewing skills, or assistance with job applications is provided, take advantage of those,” she comments. “Even if you are an expert, having others walk the journey with you will help keep your spirits up.”

5. Stay hustling. According to Stu Coleman, a partner and senior managing director at talent acquisition firm WinterWyman, you should start perusing those job search apps and websites ASAP, as even waiting a few months can reflect poorly on you. “If a manager is presented two resumes of similarly qualified candidates, but one has been unemployed for a few months, three things come to mind: Will they be rusty? Why wouldn’t I hire the person whose experience is most recent? In a market like this, where unemployment is so low, why isn’t this person working?” Coleman says. That being said, you don’t need your dream job to move forward. “Consider a contract position, a position that pays a little less than what you’d like, or even something to the left of center than what you have traditionally,” Coleman recommends. “Volunteering and doing board work are other positive ways to stay sharp, active, and involved, and they are worlds apart from doing nothing.”

What have you learned from a layoff? Let us know @BritandCo.

(Photo via Getty)