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What To Do If You’ve Lost Your Job

Lauren McGoodwin of Career Contessa & I met when she reached out to me to host a webinar called How to Stop Doing Shit You Hate & Take Control of Your Career. Her insane hustle was so inspiring that I continue to follow her for more amazing information on resumes, side hustles & standing out in the workplace.

Recently she came The Skinny Confidential HIM & HER podcast where she talked all about looking for a new career path, what to do if you’ve been laid off or furloughed, & how to stand out to employers.

While she was on the podcast I was ferociously taking notes for you guys because I felt like a blog post would really help, visually.

The podcast episode is great, but this is one of those special gems that needs its own blog post too. So after the episode I gathered all my notes, asked Lauren some more questions & compiled them here.

( You should also know that Lauren recently wrote a book called Power Moves: How Women can Pivot, Reboot, & Build a Career of Purpose. In the book you’ll find a ton more tips on managing financials, finding your voice, & cutting out comparison ).

Ok, so first, let welcome Lauren McGoodwin of Career Contessa to The Skinny Confidential. Below Lauren’s Q&A are my notes on the top takeaways from our podcast episode.

the skinny confidential what to do if you've lost your job


Tell us your whole story. Get as specific as possible on how you became the Career Contessa.

Lauren McGoodwin: Career Contessa was launched out of my master’s thesis project. I had been working as an administrative assistant inside a dental school for a major university and working on my master’s in communication management at night. One year before I started working on my thesis, I landed a job as a recruiter working for Hulu.

It was a game changing experience and I got it through a lot of hard work, 30+ informational interview questions over a 9 month period, and being savvy about how I got their attention. 

I went from miserable in a job to engaged, confident, and learning a new skill—recruiting. I loved being on the other side of the hiring process and realized that so many of the “rules” you learn in school about how to land a job are just plain wrong. I also realized that many of my expectations on what my career “should” look like were very far from my reality.

That’s what encouraged me to write my thesis on millennial women & career resources. Career Contessa was the prototype from that project because there were ZERO career resources for women back in 2012.

I left my Hulu job in late 2014 to pursue Career Contessa full-time because I knew that millennial women were quickly going to become the largest generation in the workforce and they would be needing a resource like Career Contessa to help them navigate job searches, career advancement, leadership, life, and more!

No one likes a 10 page resume. How can you be efficient about creating & sending your resume in? We discussed this on the podcast, but just give the audience a couple tips & tricks.

LM: NO ONE likes a 10 page resume and more importantly, no one will read your resume. Think of your resume as a very specific snapshot of the experience and skills you have that are tailored and relevant to the job/company you’re applying for. The key word here is “relevant.” You want to narrow down your work to one-page and share what you did + how you did it by using key words and phrases. A great “hack” is to print out 4-5 job descriptions for the job title you’re applying for and highlight the key words or phrases you see mentioned over and over again.  Do not forget to create a catching cover letter.  Cover letters provide human resources a brief and catchy introduction about yourself, the job position you are applying for, this is also a good time to tell you your best skills and experience related to the job, and an encouragement to further read your resume.

The employers are literally telling you via the job description this is what I care about and I want to know if you can do these things. It’s great that you have so many years of experience but you can show all of that on your LinkedIn profile, personal website, etc. Your one-page resume is very tailored to the exact job title and company you’re applying for.

How do you suggest someone maintain a side hustle while also maintaining a full time job? What are your best tactics, tips & tricks.

LM: You have to be incredibly disciplined with your time! You can’t just talk about getting started or building something—you have to take action! Small action is perfectly ok—even better—but don’t wait till your full-time job slows down to start or when your side hustle is perfect to launch. You learn so much by doing!

I maintained my side hustle and full-time job by setting up a weekly schedule and prioritizing the top 3 things I wanted to accomplish each week for each bucket ( full-time job and side hustle ). Where are you going to focus your limited time, why, and how will those results get you closer to your goal? I would use every Sunday to set up my schedule to make sure I got it done and then check in with myself at the end of the week.

Another helpful tip is to have an accountability buddy that you share your progress with!

Lastly, create a ritual around reaching a milestone. Rituals have the power to be incredibly restorative and motivating so it’s important to ritualize the small and big goals you hit along the way.

Your new book Power Moves just came out. What is a ‘power move’ & how can we do it throughout the day?

LM: The challenge of defining a Power Move is that it is never just one thing—but there is a clear theme. A Power Move is an intentional decision, action, habit, or behavior that makes it possible to have a fulfilling career on your terms.

Quitting your job is definitely a Power Move, just like the decision to speak up at a meeting. Volunteering for a work assignment—one that requires a new skill set—is a bold Power Move, but no less valuable than making a habit of greeting your supportive colleague with a smile and encouragement. I know this might sound like everything can be a Power Move, but not exactly. Falling into a career trap is not a Power Move, prioritizing busyness over focus is not a Power Move. Repetitive behavior expecting different results, behavior guided by other people’s expectations, shortcuts to performing the necessary steps—none of those are Power Moves.

What defines the Power Moves you make are unique to each person. Our careers are different with different life stages, responsibilities, etc. I like to think of Power Moves as small/daily: like maintaining a morning routine, medium/notable: like taking an online class to learn a new skill, and big/major: like starting a side hustle.

Power Moves build upon each other so if you want to make BIG moves, you need to start by thinking small. What small actions/Power Moves can you make today and build on those to create your own Power Moves approach to your career? The goal is to be proactive in building a successful and fulfilling career on your terms—not being reactive.

What are your top 3 tips for taking control of personal finances?

LM: 1. Develop a healthy relationship with money by separating your self worth for your net worth. A good way to do this is to write down or think about things that make you happy and fulfilled that have nothing to do with money.

2. Know where your money is—take inventory of all your accounts including debt, budget, credit score, etc. and make conscious decisions on how you earn, spend, and invest it.

3. Understand the market value of your skillset. This probably means embracing salary transparency and talking about it with your friends, coworkers, etc. You want to make sure you have a clear understanding of the job market rate ( i.e. salary ) for the value you bring to an organization or even as a business owner.

You talk about abandoning the ‘dream job.’ Can you speak on that a little?

LM: The dream job does not exist. There I said it and it’s one of the biggest career myths out there. It’s also a huge career trap because believing a dream job does exist and the endless pursuit it takes to chase that dream is part of what keeps a lot of people feeling stuck. So why do we chase this?

For starters, the idea of a dream job makes sense—it feels safe, sane, and makes us feel like success/fulfillment is a simple equation. But a dream job never takes into account the realities and challenges of real life. Researchers at Stanford University also found that the myth of the dream job is closely aligned to the myth that humans have “fixed” passions and that once we “find our passion” and apply it to work we will be fulfilled. This philosophy suggests that, at a certain point, we stop developing areas of interest and that we won’t need or want to grow. It can be stifling and limiting to signify an endgame when many of us are just getting started.

Pimp out your new book. What are 3 takeaways the reader can expect?

Thank you! Power Moves: How Women Can Pivot, Reboot, And Build a Career of Purpose will teach you the following:

+ The four notorious career traps and how to avoid them.

+ How to become your own career coach and be in the driver’s seat of your career.

+ How to build a Power Moves approach to your career that allows you to pivot, reboot, and build a career of purpose through actionable and intentional exercises—there are worksheets and helpful graphics that illustrate what you can do today.


What To Do If You’ve Lost Your Job

Lauryn’s Takeaways From The Podcast with The Career Contessa:

♡ Take a step back, assess your situation.

If you’ve been laid off or let go, filing for unemployment, or are you eligible for unemployment. Take a look at all your money & figure out how long you can make it last. If you think you can’t make it last as long as you feel comfortable with there are companies begging for employees ( Amazon, Instacart, etc. ).

Side note: If you have concerns with your health insurance – the U.S. Department of Labor provides health benefits to people who have been laid off the job through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act.

Check your debit / credit card situation as well. If you do have enough money to last to provide your retirement account, take some time to think about what you loved about your last job & what projects excite you.

♡ Losing your job could be a blessing in disguise.

If you hated your job before then this could be an opportunity for you. When you get laid off, you can get creative. You can start a side hustle or learn new skills. Just get started somewhere.

It’s so easy to let fear overtake your job loss & be the reason to NOT start. A lot of people who take a risk and make the leap ( or change ) end up saying they regret not starting sooner.

If you have no idea what to do then Lauren suggests asking yourself the following:

+ What is it that you enjoyed from your old job?

+ What were you successful at that is required at a job? ( It’s great to love gardening, but if you can’t make money doing it, it’s just a hobby. )

♡ Stop writing long emails & 40 page resumes.

An introduction email when you start applying for a job should take 1 minute to read. It needs to say who you are, why you add value, and 3 bullet points on your experience. You need to become incredibly concise & clear and attach your resume.

Michael used Dear Media as an example for this: “If someone is extremely excited and passionate about the company but lacks a little in a skill vs. someone who excels in skills but lacks enthusiasm, I would always choose the first instead of someone who looks good on paper.”

♡ There are no rules on how to apply for a job.

There are way less jobs out there than there are people. If you go for a job in a very status quo way, like clicking on ‘apply’ on Linkedin, then you’re not standing out.

Put on your thinking cap on & ask yourself what matters to the employer. Culture fit, value fit, skills fit, whatever it is they care about, tailor to it. 

♡ Do not be afraid of the NOs or the hard times. 

When you imagine your big goal and you fantasize about the job, you also need to be aware of the challenges. You can make the job seem perfect and seamless but what happens when 10 companies tell you ‘no’ or you have a ‘bad day’ on the job?

If you don’t envision the challenges along with the positives of a job, then when the hard times comes around most people want to give up.

More Tips From This Episode:

♡ Go on a listening tour. Engage in informational interviews, find people you admire & listen to them. This could be podcasts, friends & the family around you.

♡ Live your life in weeks, not days. Make a plan for the week

♡ To help find a new job you want & love, make a list of 10 companies you’d like to work for. It helps to know what you want to do, & where you want to do it. 

♡ Work your way backwards to apply for the job. Look at the company’s detailed job description & highlight the keywords that pop out. Tailor and update your resume, social media & Linkedin profile to showcase those same words & skills.

♡ Make your resume standout. Find something better than a standard Microsoft Word template.

Be sure to stalk Lauren on Instagram @careercontessa and @laurenmcgoodwin. If you want more info on how to bust your ass like a boss, is your best resource. You guys will find everything on there from past webinars, job listings, & the inside scoop on amazing companies for women.

Also, make sure to pick up Lauren’s new book Power Moves to help you tap into your voice & find the job of your dreams ( but not your dream job, LOL ).

x, lauryn

+ 5 tips for launching a podcast.

++ 10 fitness tips to keep it tight in isolation.


  1. There is some really solid advice in here, thank you. One thing to note though, it’s a little tone deaf to suggest that someone who just lost their job buy $75 eyewear. -_-

  2. I wanted to say, from the perspective of a Senior Human Resources Manager (the hiring side), someone who was let go from a long term employer at 5 months pregnant (the wtf do I do now side) and someone who saw that as a blessing in disguise (I hated my job by that point), and enrolled in IIN, started my side-hustle and now help women as a Holistic Health Coach AND work in Human Resources again, I want to say how absolutely spot on this is!! Well done ladies! And if I can ever be a resource for career advice in HR or you need someone to help you get your health in check, come find me on LinkedIn at Kristen Foley (Innocean) or @holistic.w.kristen on IG. Love you so much, Lauryn, never stop providing so.much.value.

  3. I love this blog post! It’s such a weird and uncertain time right now because of the pandemic, but nonetheless, I love the advice given in this!

    Demi |

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