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Job Doc: Laid off after 25 years. What to do now?

Q. After 25 years with my first employer, I will be looking for a second career. I was one of the few lucky enough to be with the same company since college. I feel foolish because I was caught in the middle of a consolidation. Do you have recommendations for the first three things I should do before I begin my search?

A. Twenty-five years with one employer is a very successful run, and I hope you look at your track record that way, rather than feeling foolish. Taking the time to review your situation and develop a job search plan is the first step to moving forward.

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Some people might suggest that you take a vacation, improve your golf handicap, or tackle the home improvement project you have planned. Don’t. My advice is to start your job search immediately. Here are few priority items to consider as you get going:

Anticipate how long a job search might take. Every successful job seeker tells me it took much longer to find a job than they ever thought. You need to plan for that. Ask the hard questions. What is your financial situation? What will it look like if severance and unemployment run out? Is there a way to trim your budget now? Is there a way to add income? The old adage of one month of job search per $10,000 of salary is as accurate as any other method.

Stay healthy. Stressful situations, like job loss, take their toll. If you exercise, keep at it. If not, see your doctor and start walking. Identify healthy ways to relieve stress and maintain positive energy. Identify and retain support systems. Bring positive people closer, move negative people away.

Look at the big picture. It may feel like a hard time to do it, but try and review the positives in your life. Challenges show themselves immediately, but blessings often are harder to see. Write them down. You will need to pick these notes up again as you go through the process.

Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
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