December 18, 2012
Acknowledging emotions is key to surviving a layoff
"I can't believe I was let go. After all the downsizing over the last few years, I thought my job was safe. How could they do this to me right before Christmas?" said the weeping woman sitting in my office.
"What am I going to do now?" she asked as I handed her the box of Kleenex.
Shock. Anger. Frustration. Fear. These are often the first feelings to occur after being laid off or fired from a job. The cycle of feelings is actually very similar to the emotional stages that occur after the death of a loved one. And the worst thing you can do is ignore your feelings.
I've worked with many who have lost their jobs during the ongoing economic recession. Here are some of the most important things we've learned together that have helped them move forward in their professional lives.
Acknowledge your feelings. It's OK to feel angry, frustrated and betrayed after you've lost your job. The key is to work through these feelings and use them to your advantage as a way to propel you forward.
Take a step back and relax. Do something you enjoy for a little while. Put some distance between yourself and what just happened to clear your thinking.
Identify the wonderful things and people in your life. Someone once said, "Life is a gift." Make a list of the people and things you appreciate most. You'll probably realize that your life is fuller and more rewarding than you'd ever remembered.
Spend some time in self-reflection. This is the perfect time to think about the type of job you'd like. What do you most enjoy doing? What do you dislike? What are you good at?
Create your plan of action. This list should include updating your resume, list of references and social media profiles; obtaining recommendation letters; researching available jobs and job requirements; and analyzing those requirements against your own education, experience, background and skills.
While losing a job can at first seem devastating, sometimes it can turn out better than expected. As one client commented after about six months in her new job, "I never realized how miserable I had actually been in my old job until I was laid off and found this new position. Now I get up each day and I'm actually excited to go to work!"
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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