Tag Archives: job loss

To lose a job: 7 things to do about it

There’s a saying in the career development world: “You’re not in my club unless you’ve lost a job.” It’s not a kind saying, but it puts things into perspective. Many people have lost a job or two or even three. No one will ever say, “Losing a job is fun.”

Contemplative Man

To lose a job for any reason can be a blow to one’s self esteem. Even if you were let go because the company had to cut costs, usually to offload salary, you may think you failed. That the company chose you instead of Sam who was also in your department.

If you were let go because of performance issues or you didn’t see eye to eye with your manager, this can be particularly devastating. You may feel that you’re incapable of returning to the productive employee you once were.

The same applies to having to quit under pressure. Your boss was constantly harping on you for small mistakes or accused you of missteps that you know, deep in your heart, were correct actions. But because they’re the boss, they hold the power.

No matter how you wrap your head around what happened, you can’t let go of what went wrong. You lose sight of what you did well. Negative thoughts swim around your mind. People who look at your situation objectively assure you that you weren’t to blame. What can you do to get back on track?

1. Don’t deny your feelings of despondency

Being unable to concentrate on what’s going around you is natural. Your mind circles back to the fact that you’re out of work. You might have been told to hold it in. I believe this applies to only when you’re in public. When alone let it out, but not at the expense of loved ones.

You may be experiencing feelings you’ve never had before: bouts of crying for no apparent reason, short temper with family members and friends; a diminished sex drive; lack of motivation. These feelings, and more, are symptoms of unemployment; you’re not going crazy.

When I was out of work, I tried to recognize the feelings I was experiencing. It wasn’t always easy, but I realized my unemployment was temporary. You should also realize your situation is temporary.

2. Take a hiatus

You’ve heard of the saying, “Get back on the horse.” This is true, but you don’t have to do it immediately. I’ve talked with job seekers who say they’ve taken a week off to regroup, to get their bearings. While some might believe that you should begin the job search the day after you lost your job, it would be better to clear your mind.

To get back on the horse immediately might be more detrimental than helpful, as your head might be swimming in negative thoughts of self-doubt. Or you wouldn’t have the energy you need to succeed. Proper mental health is required to be successful in your job search.

This said, don’t take a “vacation,” as many of my job seekers have. They figure summer is time to vacation, right? Wrong. The best time to look for work can be the summer, when many employers are talking with potential employees.

3. Evaluate the situation and be able to explain why you’re out of work

Given three reasons why you are unemployed—your were laid off, let go, or quit—determine which it was and assess the situation. People who possess self-awareness are honest with themselves and with others.

The first reason—being laid off—is easiest to explain. One of my customers said, “I had no choice. The company could no longer afford my salary.” While this is true, it would be best to go into a little more detail, such as, “We lost two major accounts that I was working on (as a software engineer). While my work was stellar, our accounts decided to pull out.”

The second and third reasons—being let go, or quitting—are a bit harder to explain. These answers must be short, while giving an honest description of the situation, and, most importantly, explain what you’ve learned from the situation.

4. Tell people you’re out of work

I tell job seekers there’s no shame in being out of work. And I’m sure they’re saying under their breath”What would you know?” Plenty. I’ve been out of work myself and came to find out that my feelings of self-doubt were wasted.

In order for others to help you, they need to know you’re looking for work. The people you tell aren’t limited to your former colleagues and supervisors. They should include family, friends, and acquaintances. Even your brother who lives in San Francisco might hear or read of an opportunity local to you.

(Read 5 reasons why you should tell your children you lost your job.)

5. Be willing to accept help

I find this to be one of the largest roadblock for many people; they just can’t bring themselves to ask for help. There are two things to remember: one, your job search will be shorter if you have help. Two, most people like to help those in need. It gives them a sense of fulfillment. Look at it this way, you’re helping others by asking for help.

(Psychologist assert that helping others gives people a feeling of achievement. As someone out of work, you will experience the same. So pay it forward.)

This isn’t to say you should approach everyone in you community and ask, “Do you know of any jobs for me?” To tell people you’re out of work (related to #2) should be enough. For safe measure, however, “ping” people to stay top of mind. An occasional request like, “Please keep your ear to the pavement for me” should suffice.

6. Don’t sleep the day away

As difficult it may be, develop a routine. You don’t have to rise at 5:00 am so you can go to the gym before the work day. But getting up every morning at 6:00 am, taking a walk, eating breakfast, and getting out of the house would be much more productive than sleeping til 10:00 am every morning.

You’ll feel much better if you are productive, not if you rise late and watch television. I honestly believe that developing a routine is essential to your mental health and finding a job. Another suggestion is to attend your local One-Stop career center for career-search help.

7. Seek professional help

You’ll probably experience many feelings, including anger, fear, self-doubt, etc. If you become consumed with these feelings, it might be best to seek the help of a therapist. This is not unusual, trust me. I went through a plethora of feelings and, yes, I did talk with a professional. It allowed me to clear my mind.

If it gets to the point where all you can think about is the past and present, and fail to see the future, this can be an indication of depression or stress. It’s worth talking to a therapist when you reach this stage. Most insurance policies cover mental health services.


It’s hard for people to understand how difficult being unemployed can be. It is a loss of self-esteem, a familiar routine, and might be a cause of embarrassment. The above are some simple suggestions to follow.

If you get to the point where you need to talk with a professional, don’t hesitate. Those around you may notice erratic behavior in you. This can be a sign of depression and anxiety. Don’t ignore it.

Those who are in my club of people who have been unemployed at one one point can be the best people to speak with. Seek us out. We’re here to help.

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Job seekers, surround yourselves with these 6 people

Increasingly more job seekers are opening up to me saying the hardest part of being unemployed is the emotional drain they feel. Some will tell me they’ve never felt worse in their life. Sure, money is an issue, but it’s the fear, uncertainty, anger, despair, the whole bundle that affects them the most.

positive-woman

I was out of work 14 years ago and found there were people with whom I should have surrounded myself. The people I found helpful made my job search bearable. They helped me deal with the highs and lows of the job search.

Here are five people you should have on your side.

Positive people

You know the type I’m referring to. They wear a smile on their face most of the time, and they speak positively about people and situations. They’re not downers, and they won’t let you dwell on your problems.

People like this exude positivism that’s contagious. They make it possible for you to forget your negative thoughts for a moment. That moment can be enough for you to realize that your unemployment will be temporary.

Unemployment can wear on relationships, particularly between your spouse. It is natural for your spouse to also feel the effects of your unemployment. So you will want to seek people who can provide you with the positivism you need.

People who give great advice

For free professional career advice your best bet is your nearest One-Stop career center or your alumni career center; although not all universities provide this service. There are public career centers throughout the US, and they are free.

Workshop facilitators and career advisors can provide the most up to date job-search advice. They are empathetic to your needs. However, they will not let you dwell on your situation.

Another option is networking groups in your area. The area in which I live offers networking groups that meet every day of the week. It’s important that you find people who are knowledgeable about the job search.

Connected people

I don’t mean to make this sound like a gangster movie, but you should also seek out people who know others. Start with people who are know connectors, who know almost everyone in your industry and/or occupation.

It’s important that you don’t just call on these people when you need help. Keep in touch with them on a social basis. You don’t need to mention you’re still looking for work every time you correspond; they’ll usually ask.

Be prepared to offer help in return. He or she who only takes will soon find themselves empty handed.

People who believe in you

giving-advice

At this point, you might feel that no one believes in you. This isn’t the case. You can’t discount family members, friends, neighbors, former colleagues, past bosses, etc.

These are people who will assure you with words as simple as, “You can do it, Bob.” or “I have faith in you.” or “You’ll turn the corner.” And you can tell by their tone if they’re sincere. I, for one, can’t lie to save my life; so when I say these words, I mean them.

The ultimate sign of people believing in you is when they are willing to deliver your résumé to someone in a company, or agreeing to be a reference, or going to a hiring manager and recommending you for a job.

 Non-judgmental people

Non-judgmental people will not put you down because of your situation. If you were laid off due to your previous company’s poor performance, they will not insinuate that you could have prevented being laid off.

If you were let go, they won’t blame you when it was a conflict of personality between you and your manager. I tell my job seekers that there are bad bosses who have an agenda, and no matter how hard my job seekers try, they can’t make it right.

Non-judgmental people don’t throw stones in glass houses, as the saying goes. They are empathetic because they’ve made mistakes of their own. To me, they demonstrate emotional intelligence and can be a great source of comfort.

People who want to have fun

picnicOne way to take your mind off your problems is by enjoying a laugh or two with friends or relatives. I’m sure you’ve been among friends who were recalling hilarious memories that had you in stitches.

When the laughter ceased and you were brought back to the fact you were unemployed they took notice and gave you a punch in the arm. They told you to snap out of it, so you did. Your friends wouldn’t allow you to dwell on what you couldn’t change at that moment.

You must remember that there are people like your friends or family who are counting on you to be the same ole Bob. Don’t drag them down with you. Sure they will offer a shoulder to cry on, but only for so long. They believe in you, are confident that you’ll bounce back, and instill positivism in you.


If you’re unemployed, seek out people who have one or more traits explained above. They’ll keep you positive, give you sound advice, believe in you, won’t judge you, and will keep moments light.

Photo: Flickr, Chris “Paco” Camino

5 reasons to tell your children you lost your job

Family Dinner

I tell my customers the first thing they need to do is tell everyone they know that they are unemployed. This includes former colleagues; friends; neighbors; relatives; hair stylists; convenience store owners; LinkedIn connections; Facebook friends; and even people they meet for the first time, providing the moment is right.

Most of my customers are amenable to spreading the word far and wide. They know that at any time someone may be able to provide a lead or offer sage advice. Sometimes this happens in my workshops.

But some don’t consider telling the people who should be some of the first to know, their children. Too often people tell me they wouldn’t consider telling their kids because they don’t want to let them down, don’t want them to worry, are afraid their children will lose faith in them.

Hogwash, I tell them. Your children need to know about your situation if you want them to understand the meaning of life.

Dr. Julie Olson, Ph.D. a clinical psychology, at the Santa Margarita Solutions Center, asserts, “Whether you lost your job, had a pay cut or lost hours at work, as much as this could upset you and create anxiety about your financial situation, the main job you have as a parent is to give your children a sense of security and teach them how to cope with whatever comes their way.”

I lost my job in marketing about 12 years ago. It was devastating, but I felt it was important to share the news with my three kids. I told them the day I was laid off. Yes it was a humbling experience, but they had to know for a number of reasons.

  1. There would be changes around the house. There wouldn’t be any more shopping sprees. My eldest daughter’s steady flow of GAP and Abercrombie and Fitch clothing would be cut significantly. The quality and quantity of food was going to change; but we would still eat.
  2. Daddy wouldn’t be going to work every morning. Instead I would be conducting a job search, which meant I would need time to be out of the house to visit the career center or local library, hit the pavement to knock on companies’ doors, and network. I would need a quiet environment to write résumés and cover letters, or make follow-up calls.
  3. I would be acting a little different. I might be moody or distracted, but I would still love them very much. I would need them to understand that it would be a sad and frustrating time but they shouldn’t feel they were at fault. If I seemed distanced while with them, it was because I was thinking about finding work. For little people this can be hard to understand.
  4. Losing a job is a fact of life. People sometimes lose their jobs more than once. It’s not a pleasant thing, but it’s temporary and will eventually pass. I couldn’t be Superman. I would need support from them and other people. In a way, this would be a great lesson for them about persevering in times of trouble.
  5. We would focus on the important things in life. Although a job loss is temporary, the duration of unemployment can be longer than expected. That year Christmas was celebrated like usual. The kids didn’t get all they wanted, and my wife and I went without gifts; but we still celebrated the holiday. I don’t think the kids thought once about our situation.

All came to pass after six months of unemployment. I was delighted to tell my three kids the good news. The funny thing about that day was when my son told me he didn’t want me to go back to work. Who, he wondered out loud, would take him to playgroup, or play Lego with him?

At the time he told me he wanted me to stay home, I was more concerned about getting back in a working groove. Now, I miss the time I had with my children who understood at that bleak time more about life than they did when I was still working.

If you haven’t told your kids about losing your job, do it soon. As Dr. Julie Olson writes,  “…teach them how to cope with whatever comes their way.”

Photo: Flickr, Steve Kerrison

The 8 lessons to learn from the job search

Job seeker climing stairsBefore you even send out your résumé.

If there’s anyone who’s tired of hearing, “The job search is a full time job,” it’s me. This cliché is as worn out as my favorite pair of jeans. So I’m proposing a different saying: “The job search is like going to school.” Why? Because going to school implies learning something, whereas a full time job can mean a whole slew of things.

Remember school where your intellect was challenged, where you studied hard and debated harder, where you looked forward to your next round table lesson on Jung and King Lear? Or the challenging material you tackled in Embedded Computing in Engineering Design? It was good stuff.

The lessons of the job search are of a different nature but are important in their own regard. The following eight lessons I propose you must learn before sending out your résumé.

Lesson One: It sucks losing your job. This is the first lesson you learn from the job search. And how well you handle this it will determine your success. Let me advise you to allow yourself a period of suffering, no less than three days, no more than two weeks*. It’s not clear if everyone goes through the five stages of grief in the same order, or if you’ll even experience all five stages of grief, which are.

  1. Denial and Isolation
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

For example, you may skip denial and isolation, bargaining, or depression. I would personally call depression a bit strong; I prefer despondency. My point being is that no two people handle the emotional aspect of the job loss the same.

Lesson Two: Know what you want to do before acting. Picture saying to your kids and wife/husband that the whole family is going on a trip, and they ask, “Where?” Your response is “I don’t know.” Your family members won’t have faith in your planning ability. This lesson is important because without knowing what you want to do—where you’re going on your trip—you’ll be spinning your wheels. You’ll lack direction and be totally ineffective.

So when job seekers tell me they’re not sure what they want to do, I tell them until they know what they want to do, all the dandy advice they’ve been receiving is a waste of time. There are numerous career tests and personality assessments you can take that gauge your interests, skills, and values, but I’m a firm believer in also searching your soul for what you want to do.

Lesson Three: Determine how much time you’ll dedicate to your search. I’ll ask my workshop attendees how many hours they worked at their last job. Forty? Forty plus? Many will raise their hand when I say forty plus, just as I thought. Then I ask them if they need to dedicate forty plus hours to their job search. Most of them raise their hand. (Remember the cliché, “The job search is a full time joby?”)

I tell my attendees that I disagree with spending forty plus hours a week looking for work. In my mind, looking smarter is better than looking harder. One story I tell them is of a person I knew years ago who was out of work. How he told me his family life was suffering because he was spending 60 + hours on the job search. Follow the following lessons in order to be smart in your job search.

Lesson Four: Be organized. I remember when I was out of work and receiving a call from a company I didn’t recognize sending my resume to. At first I tried to buy time until I finally had to ask the caller which company she was calling from.

To say this was an embarrassing conversation is an understatement. If your strength is not organization, it must become one of yours quickly. The job search requires being organized so you don’t receive phone calls from companies you don’t recognize. Trust me, it can be embarrassing.

Read this excellent article from Quint Careers on Ten Sure Fire Ways to Organize Your Job Search. My valued connection, Katharine Hansen, provides valuable lessons on being organized in the job search. Check them out.

Lesson Five: Let people know you’re looking for work. This seems like the most obvious lesson, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t let their friends, neighbors, convenience store owner, hair stylist, etc., know they’re out of work. How can these people help you if the don’t know.

I remember years ago when one of my customers came to my office just before Christmas. I asked him what his plans were and he told me his family was hosting the dinner. Great I replied. But what he said threw me for a loop. “It’s going to be weird. No one knows I’m out of work,” he replied. Family and friends can be your best allies.

Lesson Six: Futility 101. Anyone who thinks sending out 600 résumés will result in 300 interviews and 30 job offers probably also believes the sun revolves around the earth. Despite the many blog posts, books, and speakers who say using job boards as the primary method of looking for work is a waste of time; many job seekers still do this.

Six hundred is not a number I drew out of a hat. I recall reading on LinkedIn about a person who was seeking career advice and was bewildered that she hadn’t received one interview. Yes, she had mailed out 600 résumés and waited for the phone to ring.

Lesson Seven: Do your research. Remember when you were in school and had to do research to write papers? Now your research is even more important. So instead of “shotgunning” résumés, research the companies for which you’d like to work. Develop a list of 20 or so companies and determine where there’s growth by going to their websites. For companies showing growth, send approach letters asking to meet with someone at the company for an informational meeting.

Key points: Don’t ask for a job during the informational meetings. Instead ask illuminating questions that create a vibrant conversation, a conversation that will secure an important connection. Who knows, maybe there is a job developing at the company. You might be recommended to the hiring manager if you’re able to impress your new connection.

Lesson Eight: Connect with others. Whether you want to attend networking events or prefer to focus on connecting in the community, make sure you’re identifying people who can be of assistance. LinkedIn’s Companies feature has proved to be a great tool for this, but simply making inquiries can work as well.

One of my customers came to me one day and said, “Bob, I found a job!” Great I told him. “Yeah, but I didn’t network,” he told me. “No, I handed my résumé to my neighbor; he handed it to the hiring manager in the department I wanted to work; I was called in for an interview; and I got the job.” Connecting works in many ways.


Having completed all the lessons above, now it’s time to send your résumé to companies you’ve identified as the ones you’d like to work for. Next we’ll look at the remaining lessons of the job search.