An old adage says the three toughest changes in life are loss of spouse, loss of house and loss of job. Let’s talk about loss of job in two ways:

Bluntly stated, you’re terminated

You terminate the job.


Eric Canton

Either way, you’re not going back to the cube or the corner office. Thus begins your next job — getting a new job, or, better yet, a new career. Questions to ask yourself:

What steps should I take?

How long will it take?

Is there some kind of playbook to help me?

Are there support systems to share experiences and positive reinforcement?

What can I do to create good days instead of bad?

Let’s call it the Big Reach! Reach inside, reach out and reach across. Here’s how.

Even in the most entrepreneurial self-starting positions, everybody has habits that lead to success. What worked for you in the corner office or on the factory floor? Make your list from your employment experiences. Then take from that list the elements that brought you success, satisfaction and pride.

Ah, but don’t stop there! A true story — a young man I know in an operations management position responsible for 150 people had to deal with the unexpected death of a handicapped worker. He organized a fund drive to help the person’s family, raising several thousands of dollars from co-workers. He then got folks from the company’s other nearby branches to stand in while his own people could attend the funeral, and 117 out of the 150 went!

The deceased’s family was so moved that they asked my friend to speak at the service. Here’s the point: Only after probing about creative decision making and successes did this story come out, yet it is one of the best examples of compassionate leadership in the workplace I’ve encountered. Your personal life and community involvement contain achievements that round out your story.

Lots of factors influence the length of time your search will take. A fairly standard rule is that it will take one month per $10,000 of income sought. Age and currency in your computer literacy affect timelines. Don’t let anybody kid you about either.

Go on the offense with both. Read Internet sites, trade magazines, newspapers — digital as well as traditional, and know what’s being discussed about your chosen industry’s future prospects. Then craft stories you can insert in your interviews that demonstrate you’re on top of your game no matter what your age.

Get educated on office systems so you can do word processing, spreadsheets, slide shows and other tools that appear as requirements in almost every job description today. Be able to answer yes to computer literacy questions.

No matter how shy you are, get networking with groups in your chosen field. You must try to overcome discomfort or embarrassment when you join these groups. You’re all there for the same purpose. Everybody knows that, so get on with it!

Don’t spend time with naysayers. Move away from the glass-half-empty crowd as fast as you can. That will start you on your constructive analysis of each day to turn it into a good day with lessons for a better tomorrow.

Every time you have an interview, every time you get a polite rejection letter or e-mail, go back to see how you can improve your submission of cover letter, resume specific to the opportunity, and the comparison you should have done between the position’s requirements and your skills and abilities.

So, back to those hidden and some not so hidden stresses:

Make a list of steps you must take every day and pat yourself on the back when done.

Don’t put items on the list that is “make work” stuff. You’ll never fool anyone.

Keep a journal of every submission, every interview, every networking meeting and the contact information on people met as a follow-up tool.

Keep your immediate family/significant other in the loop. The stress you feel from those closest to you can be the most difficult.

Remember that to allow them to rely on you, you have to rely on you first.

“Get thee behind me…” is a must say to negative critics. Take all the constructive ideas you can get. The greatest stress reliever is a less stressful environment.

The Playbook? There are lots of books, Web sites, community agencies, colleges, vocational schools, and a number of private coaches and counselors available. When you recognize the need for an additional boost, you’ll have no trouble finding it.

Your focus has to be on your disciplined quest for a new career, but don’t forget spirituality and exercise to keep balance in your life. Bask in your enthusiasm for the moment now and those to come. That’s the Big Reach — inside, outside and across.

Eric Canton is president of Career BreakThrough! Inc. Contact him at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or toll-free at 866.429.3118.