I was inspired to write this blog post after receiving two calls recently — both from highly accomplished and successful technical managers who suddenly found themselves laid off. Understandably, both of these individuals are having a little bit of trouble absorbing the shock. After 10 plus years of dedication and significant accomplishments with their respective companies, how could this happen to them?!?
Fired, downsized, laid off, your company went bust — whatever the reason, losing your job can make you feel lousy. It’s a blow to the ego and it can crush your confidence. Even when part of a mass layoff, it’s hard not to take losing your job personally and emotionally. Feelings of grief, fear, panic, and frustration are completely natural.
We all spend so much time at work — according to Psychology Today, an average of 90,000 over a lifetime — that quite often, we spend more time with our work colleagues than with our family. While losing your job is not the end of the world, it can have a strong psychological impact. It can make you feel as though you are stepping into the Twilight Zone.
The good news is that despite the stress of job loss and unemployment, there are many things you can do to take control of the situation and remain positive. If you have recently been laid off, consider the following advice:
- Remember, you are not alone! Everyone at some point in his or her life will suffer from loss. Whether it is a job loss, a death of a family member or friend, the passing of a beloved pet, the loss of financial security or a missed promotion, at some point we will all experience what it’s like to not reach an important goal.
- Face your feelings. Grief is a natural part of the healing process. Before jumping straight into a job search, allow yourself a little time to deal with the emotional loss of your career. Take a few days off if you need to in order to calm yourself down and deal with your emotions.
- Don’t overthink it. Unemployment is a part of every market economy. The sooner you can accept your reality, the sooner you can move on. In an interview with The Washington Post, Robert Leahy, Ph.D., clinical professor of psychology and author of The Worry Cure, says, “A lot of people think that rumination will help you solve the problem or will help you find closure … The disadvantage is that it makes you depressed and it makes you withdraw from people.”
- Build a support team. There’s no reason to go it alone. Reach out to the friends, family members, and mentors who you know have your best interests at heart. Tell them how you feel, as we as what you need. Perhaps all you want is someone who will listen. Maybe you want career guidance or advice. If others know what you need, they can support you in the ways that matter most.
- Make your health a priority. When you’ve lost your job, it can be all too easy to plop yourself on the couch and wallow in self-pity. But mental and emotional well being requires physical well being. Get outdoors, do yoga, go for a run, take your dog for a walk — and take care of yourself. Do what you need to do to shirk off any negative emotions that could potentially deter you from being proactive in your job hunt.
- Look for the silver lining. Use the time of a job loss to reflect on your life — both personally and professionally — and make a list of the things you enjoy doing. What are your priorities? What have you learned from this experience? Consider ways that you can apply what you’ve learned to chart a new, more satisfying course for your future.
- Get to work. Looking for a job is now your job. Update your resume. Polish up your LinkedIn profile. Reach out to former colleagues and let them know that you are looking for employment. And of course, network, network, network! New connections can create new opportunities and open doors in unexpected places, but it’s important to make your situation known.
General George S. Patton has said, “Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.” As you begin your job search, surround yourself with people you can count on for guidance and support. Reach out to others who have navigated their own successful job search and ask them for their advice. You may want to consider working with a career or life coach.
Losing your job is not the end of the world —it just sometimes might feel like it. But the right moves can help you bounce back quickly and confidently — and, quite possibly, enable you to land yourself a job that is even better than the one before.