When the Worst Happens - 10 tips for responding to a sudden job loss

when the worst happens – 10 tips for responding to a sudden job loss

Almost all of us, at some time, will be released from our job. We will be reorganized, merged, fired, replaced, right-sized, or we might just quit outright. Here are some guidelines for how to approach the critical first few days after parting company.

  1. Allow time to let your emotions settle, to plan your public statement or to begin your search. As by Charles Swindoll; “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it”. Think before you act and respond with a positive attitude that reflects the future you want to create.

  2. It’s natural to have an emotional reaction to your sudden job loss. Confide in your closest family and friends and know that experiencing an emotional roller coaster of elation, disappointment, fear, or anger is natural. Working with a career coach or counselor can help you process the emotional aspect of such a stressful event. Reach out for help and emotional support.

  3. Understand that spouses, children, and your inner circle might react emotionally to your loss as well. People who care about you feel for you. Be ready to acknowledge their emotions and honor their concern.

  4. Stay away from social media and don’t make comments about your former company or boss. Don’t make the mistake of posting derogatory social media comments that you will later regret. Don’t initiate comments, and don’t add to others. Never burn bridges with your past employer; your reputation is critical to your success.

  5. Don’t interview with job prospects or employers until you have processed your loss, and regained your ability to positively communicate your value, your brand, strengths, skills, relevant past experiences, examples of your success and how you can solve their problems. If you are not ready to do that, you are not ready to interview.

  6. Maintain a regular schedule. Don’t allow yourself to become lax or disengaged. Get up at a regular time, dress for the day, eat healthy meals and beverages, exercise, volunteer, relax, and spend time with family and friends.

  7. Take some time and get away; even if only for a day hike. Put things into perspective and collect your thoughts. Time in Nature helps us remember our place in the great Universe.

  8. Make a list of what you learned and what skills you added as you exit. What do you want in your next job? What do you not want in your next job. What positive feedback did you get from your performance reviews or from colleagues? Making this list is critical in putting your loss in perspective and to being articulate to your next employer about your goals.

  9. Don’t react out of fear and grab the first possible job that comes along out of desperation. Respond to your transition by creating a thoughtful career plan that reflects the work you want to do and follow it.

  10. It’s not personal. Don Miguel Ruiz, in The Four Agreements, posits that, “Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality. When you are immune to the actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.” Try to put your loss into perspective, and not take it as a personal rejection or attack. Stay grounded in your own goals, your own career and life experience, and let actions over which you have no control, go.

It’s easy to be a positive professional when things are going well and your job is a daily round of unbroken pleasure. The real test of your integrity and professional values is when you are thrown a curve ball.Show your mettle as the consummate professional during stressful times.This too shall pass – so make sure you emerge from an unexpected job loss stronger with your professional reputation intact, and with new dedication to your career and bright future.

Career Factors: Founder of Portland-based Career Factors, Marsha Warner, SPHR, is an executive recruiter and career coach, who teaches groups and works individually with clients in career transition. She also speaks at local job-search groups and has published on the topics of career management, recruiting, and career renewal.


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