Losing your job is hard. It’s a loss not just of income but of professional identity, self-confidence and self-esteem, purposeful activity, colleagues, security and peace of mind.

You feel shocked, anger, fear, grief at your loss, anxious about the future and often depression. In his article “Coping with the emotions of a job loss – some excellent advice,” Andy Robinson lists the following symptoms of job loss grief: a parent’s diminished ability to parent, difficulties adjusting to new family roles and tasks, difficulties remembering the “good times,” increased family disputes, blaming others, stress-related health issues, concerns about the financial future, concerns about possibly having to move and worries about what friends will think about the unemployed status. Candidates have shared with us the emotional pain of losing a job, the feelings of depression and the challenges encountered by their families. I’ve also experienced it firsthand when my husband lost his job.

These feelings are all very real, but they do not define you. As Robert Cossick says in his blog, “Come out of the pit. Your worth is not based on whether or not an employer places value on you. Your worth is based on the people around you, those who love you, and the ones you invest in and care about.” Cossick defines four steps to change your focus and recognize your worth or, as he says, “to come out of the pit.”

Steps to ‘come out of the pit’

1. Make a list of the people who have influenced your life and thank them for doing so.

2. Make a list of the people you have influenced and make a mental note of how that influence has impacted their lives.

3. Allow steps one and two to rebuild your own confidence and reaffirm your self-worth.

4. Expand step two by investing in more lives.

Scientific research shows acts of kindness and investing in the lives of others produce some of the same “feel-good” chemicals in us as antidepressant medications do. They also help us to stop focusing on our own problems and realize how much we have to be thankful for. In her Forbes article “Bouncing back from job loss: The 7 habits of highly effective job hunters,” Margie Warrell talks about the importance of extending kindness to others. She says, “There’s no better mood booster than making a difference for someone else, even when you wish your own life was different than it is.”

Speaking of wishing your life was different, Warrell also shares a great tip for finding your next job: tapping into your personal and professional network. So many open positions are not advertised, but employees at those companies know about those openings and are often asked and encouraged to refer people they know. The more people who know you are looking for a job and what you’re looking for, the more people there are who can help you. As Warrell says, “The old adage ‘your network is your net worth’ is particularly relevant when it comes to finding those positions that are filled by word of mouth.” Talk to your neighbors, your former co-workers, the parents on your child’s sports team, etc. Ask them to help you with introductions or to connect you with other people they know who may be able to help you. People love to help and want to help, but they often don’t know how until you ask. Here at BIC Alliance, we are big believers in the power of networking. In fact, “BIC” stands for the “Business & Industry Connection.” If I or any member of our BIC Recruiting team can help you with making industry connections, please let us know.

Remember to treat your job search like a job: Create a plan, set goals and structure your day. But most importantly, make time to invest in others. As Cossick says in his blog, “Your life has value way beyond any job you will ever have, so start living your life for the things that really matter…faith, family and friends because that value will be forever treasured.”

For more information on BIC Recruiting, call (281) 538-9996. To contact Hazel Kassu, email hkassu@bicalliance.com.