Losing your job can feel a lot like dealing with a death or other devastating loss (the process can be very similar).
There’s the financial aspect – you had plenty of money to feed your family, pay your mortgage, now you don’t. The social aspect – you spent 8+ hrs/day with your co-workers, & they’re suddenly out of your life (for many of us, work is kind of a “second home”). Loss of identity – you walked around saying “I’m a scientist for _____ company” and now you say “I’m unemployed” (that can be very hard for some folks).
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross developed a list of 5 distinct stages of personal loss. Knowing upfront what the process looks like can help us move through it more quickly (and manage each stage). Here are the stages:
1) Denial – This can’t be happening to me! It takes a while for the news to sink in, even when you see it coming a mile away.
2) Anger – How could they do this to me?
3) Bargaining – Maybe if I just… Not everyone does this, but some people try like crazy to keep their jobs, even after the ax has fallen. Others question their performance –if I had only done a better job at x, y, and z, maybe..
4) Depression – I’m never going to get a job. This is a normal feeling, especially if your search takes longer than you anticipated. Most people spend some time in this stage. Even great candidates can have trouble finding jobs, and may feel overwhelmed by the situation.
5) Acceptance – I got through the worst part. What’s next for me? The fact is that you will find a job. It might take a while, but it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be unemployed forever.
You will get through this. We have all survived this type of loss at some point in our careers – many of us during the recession, and I know firsthand that it’s a really tough situation to be faced with.
Here are some personal strategies that can be effective to cope with change:
The Four C’s:
• Focus on what we can control & help others to do the same
• Set up informational meetings – that is something we can control (as opposed to waiting for calls for interviews)
• Let go of stress that is out of our control
• People are a resource – start networking & sharing ideas/experiences (i.e. career events, networking groups, LinkedIn, professional associations, etc.)
• Reaching out to others – reassurance/support
• Challenge your perceptions & your beliefs about the way the world works – expand your horizons
• “Stretch yourself today so you’ll be in better shape tomorrow. Reach for new assignments that broaden your experience base.”
• Overcome negative thinking patterns/identify ways that optimistic, positive thinking works for you
• Accept that change is inevitable
• Focus on the positive side of change (i.e. change can bring bigger, better things like a better job with more growth opportunities)
• Commit to growth and success