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Guide to Job Loss Recovery

By Susan P. Joyce

Guide to Job Loss RecoveryAlmost everyone who works has experienced at least one job loss. And recovered!

Most of us experience job loss more than once in our careers.

Unfortunately, the Coronavirus pandemic has made this a much more common experience for millions of people.

The loss of income is very scary, and recovering income -- as quickly as possible -- is not optional for most of us.This is a very stressful experience, but it will not last forever!

If you have not yet experienced a job loss, consider yourself very lucky! But, do not expect that good luck to be permanent.

Expect that at some point in time you probably will experience a job loss, related to the Coronavirus pandemic or not. And, you will recover, too. But, it will not necessarily be fun or easy.

Different Types of Job Loss

The impact, and your rights to unemployment compensation after job loss, vary depending on your location and the way you lost your job. The size and type of employer you had (government, private sector, etc.) may also impact your unemployment benefits.

Federal government, state governments, nonprofits, and corporations often have different obligations to their former employees. Those differences are often related to the location of the job, which may or may not, be impacted by the employer's location.

Job loss happens to us these basic ways:

  •   Laid Off  

    Your employer decided that your work was no longer necessary, so the job was ended. Permanently. This decision is based on the employer's economic needs rather than your performance in the job.

    Understand that being laid off is not the same as being fired! Read the difference between being laid off and being fired to understand if you are not sure what happened.

    The layoff ends your ability to collect a paycheck from this employer. So, a job ended this way usually qualifies you for unemployment compensation.

    To handle this situation in a job interview, read After a Layoff: Why Did You Leave Your Job? (with sample answers).

  •   Furloughed  

    The job is necessary, but the employer cannot afford to pay you to do this work right now. However, the employer hopes that the situation will change, so they "furlough" their employees rather than laying them off.

    The work is "temporarily suspended" -- think of a furlough as a temporary layoff.

    Hopefully, the employer is correct and your work will be needed again. They will reactivate the job at some point, hoping that you return to the job.

    Meanwhile, you are not collecting a paycheck. But, you are usually qualified to receive unemployment compensation.

  •   Quit  

    You felt that staying in the job was not acceptable or sustainable, so you voluntarily left the job. Ending your job this way does not usually qualify you for unemployment compensation.

    To handle this situation in a job interview, read, After You Quit, How to Answer Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?

  •   Fired or terminated  

    Your employer, for a legitimate reason (or not), has concluded that your performance in the job was poor or you were an unsatisfactory employee for some reason (late for work, sloppy work, untrustworthy, or some other reason), and your job was terminated.

    Ending a job this way does not usually mean that unemployment compensation will be paid.

    For how to handle this situation in a job interview, read After Being Fired, How to Answer: Why Did You Leave Your Job (with sample answers).

In March, 2020, the U.S. Congress passed, and the president signed, two laws which impact the status of employees -- the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES). Most of the provisions of these laws expire on December 31, 2020.

Basically, employers with 500 or fewer employees (full time and part time) who qualify for unemployment compensation may receive up to 12 weeks of special compensation (up to $200/ or $10,000/month). For more details, check out "Employers Take Note of the CARES Act: More Paid Sick and Family Leave Legislation in Response to Coronavirus" form the National Law Review.

Many Causes for Job Loss

A job loss happens for many different reasons. Few of the reasons actually relate to the quality of your work.

Currently, the response to the Coronavirus event could have resulted in your employer shutting down, temporarily or permanently.

In addition to the Coronavirus pandemic, job loss happens in many different ways:

  • Your work could have been "outsourced" by your employer to another organization, often in another country, so your work was no longer needed.
  • You could have been in the proverbial "wrong place at the wrong time," when your employer decided to cut expenses (employees), also known as a layoff or, more euphemistically, a reduction in force (RIF).
  • You could have worked for an employer who went out of business and just closed up shop, turning every employee into a job seeker. Another wrong-place/wrong-time situation.
  • Your employer could have been acquired by another organization that already had someone doing your job and didn't need a second person, or they decided to close your division, department, or group. Not your fault.
  • Employers sometimes relocate all or part of the organization to another geography or location you couldn't reach, or couldn't reach at a reasonable expense. If moving wasn't an option for you, another wrong-place/wrong-time situation.
  • You could have been fired from your job - being terminated by your employer is not uncommon and not necessarily the employee's fault (but also not necessarily the employer's fault, either).
  • Sometimes people quit their jobs out of anger or frustration or because the work situation has somehow become intolerable.
  • You could have left voluntarily, perhaps taken an early retirement, expecting to relax and enjoy your golden years, but then lost your financial security through the recent stock market dive or some other personal financial disaster.

One or more of these separations happen to all or most of us in our careers. Nan Russell, Job Loss Recovery Expert, was fired from her first professional job, and went on to have a very successful career which included being Vice President of a multi-billion dollar company.

I have been laid off twice, and both of those job losses launched me into completely different careers. Fortunately! They led me to this job as Job-Hunt's owner and publisher, a job I love.

Successful Recovery from Job Loss Is Definitely Do-able

Regardless of how or why you lost your job, you have probably felt angry and disappointed, frustrated, even humiliated. Given what you've been through, those feelings are not inappropriate.

But, getting past those feelings and learning new strategies for coping and excelling will help you to be more successful in your next job search.

That's what this section of Job-Hunt is about. Moving on. Successfully. It's not impossible - millions have done it!

Since Job-Hunt's Job Loss Recovery Expert Nan S. Russell has spent a considerable amount of time "on the other side of the desk" (as the interviewer, hiring manager, and head of HR), you'll find her insights helpful to you.

One Job Is Not Your Career

Stay tuned, and read Nan's articles in this Guide to Job Loss Recovery to move on with your career. Remember, a career is a process, not a destination. Job loss won't end your career.

Losing a job may launch a new career for you or, at a minimum, a better job next time. Do not be discouraged. View this as an opportunity to move in a new and better direction in your career.

More About Recovering from Job Loss:


Susan P. Joyce 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. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn.