Starting a New Job? How to Bounce Back from being Unemployed


Whether you expected it or not, losing your job is highly emotional experience. But it’s over now, right? You’ve got an excellent new job, one you’re excited about. Now you can move on. Right?

Not necessarily. It can be hard to leave behind the emotional baggage associated with job loss. You don’t want your emotional reaction to your job loss affect your performance or behavior on your new job. Talking with your spouse, relatives, and trusted friends about your job loss can be helpful. I am not aware of any job-loss therapy groups but I can see where sharing experiences and feelings with others who have lost their jobs could be helpful. But don’t talk about your job-loss experience on your new job. Focus on your positive experiences, not your negative ones.

Avoid brooding over negative experiences on your former jobs. Remember the positive but don’t dwell too much on those either. You want to look ahead rather than focusing excessively on the past. 

Have a self-improvement plan when you start your new job

To begin bouncing back from job loss, have a plan when you start your new job. Meet with your new supervisor and determine her priorities and where you should initially focus your efforts to get a fast start in your new job. Work with your supervisor to develop short-term goals and a plan for achieving them.

When discussing your new job with your supervisor, try to find out what your predecessor in the assignment did well and where he could have done better. If your predecessor was a less than stellar performer, try to avoid falling into the same behavior patterns he did.

Keep your supervisor informed about what you are working on and your progress in achieving goals the two of you mutually agreed upon. By doing so often, you’ll receive frequent feedback on your performance and suggestions for improvement.

Don’t be negative but do reassess

Don’t be negative and gripe about your former job to your new coworkers. However, try to look back on your previous job experience objectively. Ask yourself whether the criticism you received from your former manager was justified. How could you have done your job better? What new skills should you have developed but failed to do so? Could you have gotten along better with your former coworkers?

In short, try to learn as much as you can from your experiences on your former job. Try to put these lessons to work in your new job.

Practice good oral communications skills

Improve your communications with your supervisor and coworkers as well as your suppliers and customers. This can mean improving your speaking skills and developing better listening skills. Put these skills to good use on your new job. One thing that impressed me about most of my coworkers at the Halliburton Research Center was how well they communicated with the firm’s customers and suppliers. I tried to learn from them. In contrast, there were few such role models when I went to work for a new employer. I quickly developed the reputation as one of the best communicators in the lab. This definitely helped my job performance.

Share with others

Socialize on the job with your new coworkers in an appropriate way. Go out to lunch with them or join them for a drink Friday afternoon if these are the custom in your new department. The sooner you begin fitting in the sooner you will be regarded as a valuable member of your new team.

John Borchardt is a chemist and freelance writer who has been an ACS career consultant for 15 years. He is the author of the ACS/Oxford University Press Book “Career Management for Scientists and Engineers.” He has had more than 1200 articles published in a variety of magazines, newspapers and encyclopedias. As an industrial chemist, he holds 30 U.S. and more than 125 international patents and is the author of more than 130 peer-reviewed papers.

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