How I Bounced Back After Losing My Job at 26

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“Surviving failure makes you bold. Out of devastating failure comes spectacular events.”– Linda Gottlieb

In the space of about a minute, I received a call that rendered me jobless. “We’ve decided to let you go. Today will be your last day.” As the news sunk in, my heart started thumping…I was officially unemployed. 

All at once, visions started galloping through my mind like energetic horses: my hard-earned savings disappearing like rainfall down a drain, moving home, watching everyone move upwards. To lose my job within the midst of the pandemic felt like a nightmare.

And what followed were days and days of stress. Losing my job felt like such an ugly, almost criminal mark on my record. I was full of self-pity.

After the fifth day, I knew I needed to refocus. I’d always been career-focused, so I decided to take action.

1. I focused on my health

They say you should count your blessings, and that’s what I did. I was only 26. I had a roof over my head. I had some savings. I had some experience. I wasn’t alone. 

So, I decided to combat my issues with anxiety. You don’t know how long you’ll remain unemployed, so I’d say it’s a suitable time to focus on yourself physically and mentally (as well as consider how you’ll cope financially). 

Start the road to recovery if you’re suffering from a mental health problem (or any other health problem). Seek advice from your doctor. Take the time to understand your mind, body, and soul.

Other things to consider: you could also start a new exercise regime, learn to cook healthy meals, or try a relaxation regime, such as mindfulness, ASMR, or EFT tapping. 

Don’t forget to rekindle your passions or start a new one. You’ll feel more confident in your abilities.

2. I looked inwards

I researched ways to make money from home, freelance careers, alternative careers, you name it…unemployment is the perfect time to look inwards and figure out what you actually want to do with your life rather than what you think you should do. We’re often a slave to money and prestige. You have a blank slate. Use it.

3. I revamped my employment profiles

My CV needed a serious revamp. I was still using a template I’d downloaded from 2015! So, the first thing I did was pass it through a free CV check. This was really useful in giving me advice in terms of layout, keywords, and accessibility.

I then tweaked my LinkedIn profile to improve its search engine friendliness. Sure, my CV and LinkedIn profile probably still need some work. But as my career progresses, I’m looking forward to tweaking them, and my CV looks a lot more polished. 

4. I didn’t apply for a million and one jobs

Thanks to my savings, I was in a lucky position. I didn’t have to get a job straight away. So, I set myself the deadline of 3 months to review my job search and then widen it if necessary. But I think a tailored search is much more important. They don’t say that “quality is better than quantity” for nothing. 

Because I had some time to look inwards and figure out what I wanted to do, I just didn’t want to apply for everything.

5. I filled the gap on my CV

I was actually worried about having a gap on my CV, so I sought a volunteer job at a non-profit within my industry.

I highly recommend the volunteer route if you need to build on or gain experience. If you do well, you could ask for a work reference, or you could even be offered a paid job. 

There are so many volunteer opportunities out there, and you don’t even have to leave your home. You can be a volunteer barista, marketer, software developer, chef, editor, fundraiser, writer, teacher…you name it!

The final note

I tried to make sure I was doing “something productive” each day in terms of my career, health, or personal development. And, eventually, I found the right opening.

At the end of the day, it took me 9 weeks to get another job. Ultimately, I feel quite proud of myself for getting through uncertainty. A period of unemployment really opens your eyes to your intrinsic values and prompts you to assess what you actually need to survive and thrive. If you’re going through the same situation, I believe in you!


Jenny Leung is an editor and digital learning professional, passionate about education, and motivating others. As a child, she could be found writing how-to guides and instructional worksheets (when most kids were writing stories). To find out more about Jenny or to get in touch with her, visit her profiles on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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