I went through an experience quite a few years ago where I lost my job due to downsizing and budget reconstruction. My position was eliminated, and it took me a long time to find another job that fit my experience and qualifications. I felt rejected, frustrated and somewhat alone during the process.
I recently talked with a couple of people who shared a similar experience, and this got me wondering how many others out there have been ousted from a position because of no fault of their own and felt like they had lost their value. I want to share some examples of the emotions that go along with a job loss as well as to encourage those who are going through this process, or may go through this process in the future.
Susan had been working for a company for 20 years when she was asked to leave. The CEO retired and the new CEO wanted to build her own team. After losing her job, Susan didn’t sleep well and found herself mourning the loss of her job. Her confidence was shaken and it took about 6-8 months before she found work that really interested her. She reached out to friends, volunteered with a non-profit, and worked on some part-time contracts. One of the contracts turned out to be her new full-time gig and several others became her side gig.
Chris worked for 30 years at a company and had worked his way up to a senior leadership position. When he was let go, he was devastated for months and not able to think through what he needed to do. His job was his identity; he was emotionally paralyzed. The loss of his job struck him to his core and he couldn’t function without the help of friends. He also began volunteering and taking on short-term contracts before he found his next position.
One of the things we all had in common was that we had money set aside for emergencies and thankfully the urgency to bring home a paycheck was not a factor. The rule of thumb to have 3-6 months of savings set aside for emergencies – such as job loss – may not be enough if you have only one source of income. It may take longer than you think to find something that fits your experience and qualifications, so be prepared financially to manage emergencies in your life.
The other thing we all felt was the grief of loss. The grief associated with job loss is real and can affect your physical and emotional health, your relationships, and your sense of purpose. Grief is not something most people talk about, so it is important to acknowledge what you are feeling and give yourself time and space to process. If you don’t have close family or friends who you can confide in, you may need to speak to a counselor or therapist to help you refocus and set new goals.
Be confident in your skill set. Take the time to learn new skills and be willing to be stretched. If you have transferable skills and valuable experience you will either find a place to work, or you may decide to become an entrepreneur and start your own business. Know what your strengths are and what you can do, and don’t forget to tap into your network.
Remember your job is not who you are as a person, and it does not define your value. If you find yourself out of work, remember to take time to grieve, lean on friends and family for support, engage with your network to let them know you are looking for work, and do things you enjoy. If you are going through a job loss situation and need to bounce ideas off someone or need help getting grounded let me know.