First, do something that will improve the way you look such as a new haircut, hair color, new makeup, or new clothing. Or all of them! When you look good, you feel more confident! Also, give attention to the way you stand and move. Not only is it a message to the outside world, more importantly, it is a message to yourself.

If you feel that it doesn’t matter how you walk or how you stand, then, in effect, you are saying that you don’t matter. Walk and stand as if you mattered and as if you are honoring yourself.

Self-confidence and self-respect go hand-in-hand. So be willing to do things that will help you gain and retain respect for yourself. You must also be willing to respect others. It may be necessary to cut out the people in your life who don’t allow you to feel positive about yourself. Your self-confidence can evaporate or flourish depending on the people you accept into your life. Surround yourself with people who show by their actions that they care about you and have your best interests at heart.

Avoid comparing yourself with other people and measuring yourself by someone else’s standards. Learn to love, appreciate and value yourself. There is no one in the universe like you. Each of us has value and something to offer. Find your personal purpose and mission in life. The biggest confidence builder, in my opinion, is doing the work you feel passionate about and that utilizes your unique talents and abilities. It is hard to have confidence in yourself if you hate the work you do or if you are not good at your job.

You might find this hard to believe, but being laid off could be a blessing in disguise. It gives you an opportunity to reevaluate your life and decide in which direction you would like to go. Dont know where to start? Why not take a personality test to see which career path is best for you. See the “Resources” chapter under “Personality Tests” for web sites that offer tests you can take.

Try to get involved in some meaningful work as soon as possible, even if It’s only on a volunteer basis. Use your expertise to benefit people and/or organizations. You can now volunteer without even leaving home. See Chapter 9, under Volunteer Work for VolunteerMatch’s VirtualVolunteering.

There are several benefits you will derive from doing this. It will give you a great feeling by doing something to help others. It will also broaden your networking base, which could lead to permanent, full-time employment. I even read recently that someone’s volunteer job turned into a permanent, paid position. Volunteer work may also make you stand out from the other applicants if you list it on your résumé. An employer may be quite impressed to see that you are interested in making your community a better place to live and work.

Sometimes volunteer work provides more of the skills an employer is looking for than your paid work experiences. However, avoid using “volunteer” on your résumé as a job title. The adjective “volunteer” does not fully convey the work you really accomplished. If you did counseling, use the title “Counselor.” Then, highlight the skills you learned and determine what skills would be important to the working world. Did you write grants? Do fundraising? Do consulting work for businesses? Were you an administrative assistant for a non-profit? Do not hold back from listing these things, feeling they are unimportant. On the flip side, however, do not overstate the things you did.

We talk more about this in Chapter 4, but you should also strive to learn to manage your money intelligently if you don’t already. There are many books written on this subject as well as web sites and money management counselors who may provide advice. Money itself doesn’t buy happiness, but knowing how to use it properly and making it work for you can make you feel 10 feet tall!

Set some goals for yourself (on paper or using software see Chapter 9). The beautiful part about it is you dont have to stay stuck where you are. Decide what goals you want to accomplish, then break each goal down into manageable steps.

Getting over the trauma of being laid off will not happen overnight. But in order to regain your confidence after this experience, please remember that you are a person of worth, job or no job. This is only a temporary setback. You have the power and ability to attain all your goals and ambitions in life. You just have to know what you want and go after it. And let nothing stand in your way!

This is an excerpt from the book How to Survive and Thrive After a Layoff by Dolores G. Wix, available at