How to Survive A Job Loss

hire-me-520x450.jpg

Losing your job hurts.

Companies use fancy terms to describe it – downsizing, reorganization, consolidation, re-engineering. Whatever way you slice it, the simple truth is you’re out of work.

Getting laid off is never happy news and suffering a job loss sucks. It stings to hear you’re not needed anymore. It’s painful to pack up your belongings and leave a place you have become attached to. It feels like a betrayal to be let go of by a company you have been so loyal to. Even if you had a great manager, you’ll likely to feel discarded, rejected, and embarrassed. The future seems scary and filled with questions.

Losing your job can be one of the most difficult experiences of your life. Abruptly separating from a job is extremely difficult. For many of us, what we do for a living is intertwined with our identity and self-esteem. It’s no coincidence the first question asked when making a new acquaintance is, “So, what do you do for a living?”. When that’s stripped away suddenly, we may feel lost…grasping for meaning.

In fact, job loss is a significant life event that ranks alongside the death of a spouse and divorce on the stress-o-meter. We define ourselves so much by our professional roles and work-related achievements. If you’ve recently been laid off, take a minute and complete this stress test.

With strength, support, and a whole lot of planning, you can avoid sinking into self-doubt.

Here are some tips for coping if job loss happens to you:

1. Get your financial house in order –

 • Since there will be no paycheck coming in every 2 weeks anymore, take your financial planning seriously. Have you calculated your monthly expenses? Do you know how much you need to live off of? Assess your savings and spending to be fully aware of what you need to get by until the next opportunity comes along.

 • Ask for severance pay - A severance package is pay and benefits an employee receives when they leave a company. Most employers will agree to pay you one week of your full salary for every year you’ve worked for them. So, if you worked there for five years, you should get five weeks of pay.

 • Apply for unemployment – Typically, to be qualified to apply for and receive state unemployment compensation you need to have lost your job “through no fault of your own.” A job lay-off is just that—you have been a good employee and had no intention to leave your job at this time, it was the decision of management and nothing personal. Research the requirements for your state. In many states unemployed works can file online or over the phone. 

2. Leave on a positive note – Leave work on a positive note if you can. Keep your dignity of utmost importance.

 • Even if your boss was “difficult”, do not get angry in the office. Don’t bad mouth your boss, destroy company property, or send out nasty messages over Facebook and Twitter. Keep your composure and exit gracefully. Remember, you might be working with one or some of these people in the future; the way you act under pressure will stick. 

 • Get a recommendation- Before you leave the office, ask your boss if you can use her as a reference in the future. Try to overcome your emotions and do this in-person – harness the intensity of the moment to take a pro-active step, rather than just sending a stale email later on.

3. Mourn the loss – Losing a job is a traumatic event. You may be floundering in a sea of mixed emotions. What’s important to remember is that this is completely normal. There is no one way to react to job loss – and you will undoubtedly go through your own process of working through it.

 • Acknowledge the loss – When just days before your alarm clock was a mortal enemy, yo u may now feel overwhelmed by the lack of structure. Realize its okay to feel bad but instead of wallowing, take the opportunity to reconnect with things you never had time for while working – like hobbies you let slip, volunteering, friends, or family. This will reinforce that your identity is more than what you do between 9am to 5pm. This a big step in re-framing your self image to be less dependent on “what do you do” and more about “who you are”. 

 • Ride the rollercoaster – You may fluctuate between feeling relieved and excited to  phasing through fear, denial, sadness, anger, confusion, and shock. Experiencing a wide range of emotions is a typical cycle that most people go through. Eventually, you’ll reach a stage of adaptation. Don’t go it alone – we’re here to help you through the grief-like feelings and to help you plan your next move. If your sadness explodes into full blown depression, be sure to seek professional guidance immediately.  

 • Cleanse –  Give yourself permission to work up to a fresh start. Take time for yourself in the early days. Indulge with a manicure or new haircut to help boost your self-esteem. Convert your anxiety into positive energy. Meditate, exercise; find your zen. Try journaling – it can help you process your thoughts. Use these practices to gain perspective on recent events and what you want out of the future. 

4. Don’t engage in self-defeat –

 • Avoid regressive behaviors that will keep you in a cycle of negativity. Don’t sleep all day – get up at a regular time. Don’t isolate yourself – get outside, seek out adventure and fresh air. Make a conscious effort to surround yourself with people who support and inspire you – avoid those who continuously harbor anger. 

 • Lose the “what-if’s” – You most likely lost your job through no effort of your own. Don’t beat yourself up about something that was out of your control. Pinch yourself every time you utter the words “If only, I had… or I wish I had done…I should have…”

5. Embrace the upsides – Leaving a job may be a painful process, but its exposes you to a world of opportunities you may have otherwise overlooked. It’s one of the few times in your life when you will be handed a clean slate and given time to re-evaluate your career. You have the time to think carefully if you’d like to keep doing what you were doing, change fields, or start your own business. Being fired sucks, but it presents a chance to move in a new direction and find even better opportunities both personally and personally. Wise words from FruGal at TotallyMoney: There is a reason that people tend to say ‘getting fired was the best thing that ever happened to me’, it forces you to check out of the daily grind and think about things clearly. Take advantage of that!

After surviving a layoff, you really learn a lot about your strengths and abilities. While you will need time to recover, remember to spend more time looking ahead and less time looking back. A job loss can be a blessing in disguise – a change that brings you new opportunities at every turn.

Pace yourself. Take every day one step at a time.

Have you ever lost your job? Do you have any tips on how to cope with this difficult experience?