Most people will face job loss at some point in their careers. It used to be that those people were tarnished with the brush, and people wondered if they sucked, what they did wrong, etc. Now, it’s really no longer the case, as lay-offs, restructuring, and re-organization in an organization has become incredibly commonplace. Regardless of that fact, people who lose their jobs frequently feel a lot of feelings, including depression, despair, and anxiety. I know- because I’ve been one of those people.
I was first laid off from IBM in 2005, in a large layoff with 1200 other people. I found a job quickly, and spent close to 60 hours per week updating my resume, networking, applying for jobs, and generally job-seeking. In 2006, when I was pregnant with my fourth child, I was laid off again. This time, it was because the entire branch office closed down. Frankly, I had some really hard decisions to make, including whether I even wanted to go back to work, since I was pregnant with my fourth child, and frankly, life was really busy.
Getting laid off, and losing your job is a bit like losing part of your identity. You also worry that you’re going to lose friends, and that you’re going to be a social pariah. Truthfully, that does happen to some extent, because people don’t know what to say, so they don’t say anything at all. It’s OK to cry, and mope, and give yourself time to grieve. Grief, shock, anger, and all sorts of emotions are a normal part of the process, and they shouldn’t be ignored. In fact, I think that ignoring the changes, and the stress makes the situation even more stressful.
So, what can you do? Acknowledge the loss, grief, anger, and other feelings you’re having as completely normal. Give yourself some time- a few days to a week. Set a limit. Then pick up that resume, and dust it off. Start customizing your resume for the different positions you’re applying for. Understand that all of the activities of finding a new job are your new job. Treat them as such. Make them important. Also, make sure that your friends, family, and network know that you’re looking for a job. Many times positions are found through someone you know. Make sure to use those connections.
Know that this too shall pass, and that you will emerge from the other side. You will be a changed person, and that is not a bad thing. I found that for me, it gave me clarity on what I wanted to do, and where I wanted to go.
What about you? Have you been through a job loss? How did you react? What did you do?