I’m So Sorry For Your (Job) Loss

Jan Hoffman of the New York Times wrote an interesting piece May 18th, “The Language of Loss for the Jobless,” on the difficulties people have discussing their job loss. Men in particular find it difficult to express either grief for losing their own jobs or condolences for people who have been laid off. As our experts provide outplacement services for a living, Challenger, Gray & Christmas has worked tirelessly to offer advice and support to make the best of a job loss.

As we discussed in a previous entry, men are being harder hit by the current economic downturn much more than women, due to the massive job losses in industries traditionally dominated by men. In most cases, especially with the stalling economy, those who lose their jobs, have difficulty discussing it, and those who still have their positions are too worried that they may be next to offer any real support. If the economic crisis continues, we may see more evidence, either anecdotally or statistically, on the difficulties those who have been laid off face in dealing with their job loss.

Although being told you are no longer employed is a tremendously difficult event, it is important that you keep a level head and think positively. You are no doubt qualified to find another position and other positions are no doubt out there. The following steps may help alleviate the sting of a pink slip:

Immediately find a close friend, a confidante to whom you can ventilate your feelings. That is critical for your emotional recovery. You have to let your negative feelings out and not bottle them up. You need someone with whom you can be irrational without fear that the conversation will be repeated somewhere else. In lieu of a close friend, it could be a doctor or clergyman but do not try to contain your feelings. Clearing the air is essential or you will be burdened with emotional baggage that will hamper the effectiveness of your job search.

Keep up your normal social contacts. This was something Jan Hoffman reported many people found especially difficult. When you have lost your job, the tendency is to hole away, so as not to be judged by friends and family. You should not try to hide from the world. There is absolutely no shame attached to being unemployed, especially now when so many people have become victims of mass layoffs in the wake of downsizing, through no fault of their own. The contacts you make on social occasions can provide important job leads so you should not wall yourself off from those sources.

Take a “cooling off” period from the job market of a few days. Job seekers frequently make the mistake of reentering the job market too soon. Use the cooling off period to regroup your thoughts and chart your plans for the ensuing job search, including preparing your resume.

School yourself to think positively. It may be hard at first but you have to regard your situation positively. You have not been fired; you have been given an opportunity to start over in a better job somewhere else.

Establish a daily routine. Keep busy. When you are unemployed, you suddenly have large blocks of time to fill that were formerly occupied by your job. Beware of developing a tendency toward idleness by keeping busy. The regular business hours should be devoted to interviewing on a non-stop basis. Make your preparations for the next day’s interviews the prior evening so that you do not waste time during the business day. Above all, do not while away time on the golf course, in front of the TV set or waiting for the phone to ring with a job. It helps to establish a personal routine during the time you are unemployed. That should include exercise, arising at your usual hour and scheduling some periods of recreation.

Do not take a vacation. Taking a vacation takes you out of the job market. You have to account for your time to prospective employers and most are reluctant to hire people who have a long period of unemployment on their records. It does not look good to tell the prospective employer you were snorkeling in the Bahamas rather than looking for work.

Draw up a budget that conserves your assets. You may have made the statement numerous times that you are going to cut back on unnecessary expenses but now you have to do it. Start out with a basic spending plan that includes mortgage or rent, auto payments, food, insurance, gasoline and the expenses of job hunting. If you have income left over, then budget for other expenses on a priority basis. By the way, job hunting expenses well documented may be tax deductible as long as you are seeking a job in the same field as your last position.

Also, keep telling yourself you will find a position which makes you much happier than you have been recently because that is the way it nearly always works out.

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