The first 48 hours of a job loss are critical

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Have you ever had a sports injury?

If so, you'll know that taking some action in the first 48 hours plays a key part in minimizing damage and speeding your recovery.

Whether you've strained a muscle, damaged some ligaments or incurred something more serious, it will help if you rest, apply ice or compression, elevate the area, take anti- inflammatory drugs or see an expert such as a physiotherapist.

Taking these actions in the first 48 hours helps the body get over the initial shock while really accelerating the recovery process.

This very same principle applies when dealing with another type of shock - losing your job.

The following five steps are not exactly rocket science - most people will take the majority of these actions over time. But the key point is the TIMING of these actions.

1. Give yourself permission

Give yourself permission to be a little "all over the place."

It's not uncommon to have a whole set of conflicting emotions: feeling sad, angry, shocked, in denial as well as being relieved or even happy - all within the first few days. Being "up and down" emotionally is part of the process, so don't worry too much about it. It's very normal.

2. Recruit a support team

Rather than holding back out of embarrassment or shame, make sure you inform your inner circle what has happened as soon as you know about it. Friends, family, colleagues and clients should all know about your situation. What's more, they should hear it from you, not the Wall Street grapevine.

All the support, ideas, contacts and opportunities will come via the people who know you. So the quicker these people know - the better placed they are to help you.

3. Update your recruiters

Call two or three recruiters you know to update them on your circumstances.

Don't worry about updating resumes just yet or even going to meet recruiters. You just want to be on their radar in case something interesting comes up. If they're keen to meet immediately or they call you with what sounds like the right opportunity, then that becomes your cue to update your resume. But don't hold off making the calls just because your resume isn't ready.

4. Book a meeting with a career expert

Most Wall Street firms will include some form of professional career coaching through an outplacement firm as part of your termination package. If you have such support already paid for, it's wise to contact the firm and set up an initial conversation.

If your employers haven't made such arrangements, then start thinking about whether you need to find professional help to get your career back on track. While not always essential - just like working with a physiotherapist to help with an injury - a career expert will accelerate your progress and often minimize lost earnings from being out of work.

5. Start planning a break

Whether it's a weekend break, a two-week vacation or six months traveling the world, it's important to create some time to get away. The change of scenery will give you time to reflect, think and come back with a fresh perspective.

Just ensure you've made some of the calls suggested above so that you feel more in control and less guilty when you go away.

A little like recovering from a sports injury, you only have a short window of opportunity to kick-start your progress after being laid off. If you miss the window, you will still recover - but it may just take a little longer than you would have liked.

Sital helps a variety of mid-career professionals make successful career transitions in less time and with less stress. To learn more, click here.

This article first appeared on our UK site. It has been edited slightly to make it more pertinent to financial markets professionals here.

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