Job loss can be terrifying and horrible, like a swift, hard kick in the stomach. I know; I’ve “been there” – a couple of times. It might be a bit of a relief. Perhaps the job or the organization or the situation was unpleasant and leaving it behind is a relief – but job loss can also be frightening.
For most of us, there is a big dose of anger, too. ”Hey, they made a BIG mistake here! I should still have a job! I need the money! Why me? Why not him (or her)? Why now?” And on and on and on.
All natural and normal reactions, if unpleasant and uncomfortable for us and our families/significant others to experience with us. It takes a while, but it is important to “get over” the anger because it will sabotage the search for the new job and possibly make the unemployment last longer.
Moving On After Job Loss
Many questions are probably running through your mind: What to do next? How to find a job? Where to find a job? What job to find? Where to get help? Who can help? Try not to let the questions turn into anxiety and fear.
1. Deal with the anger about your job loss.
Often, there is a substantial amount of anger to deal with related to the job loss. And that adds to the stress and to the difficulty in “moving on” – as everyone recommends and as we all need to do. The anger spills out in networking discussions and in interviews, both of which are very deadly. No one wants to recommend or to hire a “nutcase.” They want to solve problems, not add to them. and you don’t want to appear like one. So, try these approaches:
- Don’t take the job loss personally.
Often difficult to accomplish, but understanding that layoffs are usually not logical or rational can help. Your employer simply needed to reduce expenses, and you were “in the line of fire” – literally. (See Why You Were Laid Off for more insight.)
- Acknowledge the anger.
Recognizing that you are angry can often help defuse it. Does being angry at your former boss or a co-worker help you? No – it hurts you (not them).
- Dump the anger.
People often find that, if acknowledging the anger doesn’t help, writing it down may. Dumping the anger out onto paper – NOT in an email – in a notebook or on a pad of paper. Simply the act of writing it down can help defuse it.
- Try to forgive and forget.
A cliche because it’s so true and so helpful, and often easier with the passage of time. But, important for moving on to the next stage in your life.
2. Look ahead; not back.
This could be an exciting time for you – time to change the direction of your career. Time to reach out for that goal you may have really wanted for a while. Perhaps it’s time to go back to school. Or to focus your networking and job search energy in a new direction, maybe the job or employer you have been thinking about for a long time.
An Opportunity for Positive Change?
Take a deep breath (don’t hold it), and try to view this situation as an opportunity. Seriously! It will probably take a while until you can see it that way, but this could be the point where your career takes off like a skyrocket. New opportunities – and new challenges – are ahead of you!
I know that both times I was laid off, the layoff really ended up being kind of a gift. If I hadn’t been laid off, I would probably have continued working in those organizations for as long as they let me, in a state of suspended animation – doing the same old things over and over, not taking any chances, not learning much, not adding new skills. Just putting in my time in exchange for a paycheck but not actually enjoying my job very much. Or, maybe it was too much – too much to do, too little help or too much “help” – working for a micro-manager or someone who saw only one “correct” way to do a task – his (or her) way. Or perhaps you were luckier.
If you think about it – and you probably won’t need to think very hard – there probably were things about that employer or the people you worked for/with that you didn’t like. And leaving those things/people behind is good.
Bottom Line: A Career Is a Journey, Not a Destination
I figured this out, finally, after my most recent layoff, but it applies to any job loss. One phase of your career is over. The next one is beginning. Make the most of it! (To read more of what I learned from being laid off, see Be a Layoff Graduate, Not a Survivor!)
© Copyright, 2012, Susan P. Joyce. All rights reserved.
About the author…
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 1998, her company, NETability, Inc. purchased Job-Hunt.org, and Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt since then. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.