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Managing Change and Emotions During Job Loss

Updated on August 18, 2018
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Rebecca loves sharing what she knows about alternative medicine, health, frugal living, fun, animals, and how to live a better life!

Job Termination


Maintaining Perspective

Job loss or transition is for most people, an event that is bound to occur sooner or later in our lives. We often define ourselves by our careers or vocations. We define ourselves with what we do. Our careers give us a sense of purpose, identity, stability, and regularity.

Once we no longer have a job, whether it was a complete surprise or anticipated, it can cause a lot of disorientation and emotional upset. Job loss can make us feel vulnerable and cause us to lose that sense of control we perceive to have over our lives.

It is important to maintain perspective during job loss and career transition. No one is ever prepared for losing a job. You're going to experience a series of emotions and changes during this major life event.

Emotional Stages of Job Loss

  • Shock feeling in shock is a normal response to a sudden change or event.
  • Denial is a coping mechanism that helps us emotionally "buy time" until we progress towards acceptance.
  • Fear is a healthy reaction to alert us to impending challenges. Fear is always a part of the "unknown".
  • Anger can arise when we feel betrayal or a response to protect what we value.
  • Bargaining is a way to mentally self-soothe change and bring it to a desired level of acceptance but on our terms.
  • Depression emerges with job loss when we begin to acknowledge that a chapter of our lives has reached finality.
  • Acceptance occurs when we reach the point where can look at the entire situation earnestly and work towards resolution and solutions for our individual situation.
  • Enthusiasm in this final stage, our confidence is restored and we can energetically put action into finding a new job or other opportunities.

It Happens To Us All

Have You Ever Lost Your Job?

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Coming to terms with your emotions

Job loss and the emotional stages of it are very similar to grief. This is a major life event. Give yourself time to acknowledge your emotions. Expect a whole range of emotions to be produced. Cortisol and stress can produce negative and positive emotional responses as well as reactions in the body. Many people facing job seeking describe their time unemployed as an emotional roller coaster. Don't deny your emotions, and don't bottle them up, that only delays progress. Seek out trusted family members, friends, and counselors to discuss your feelings with. Honor your emotions and take healthy actions to process them. Accepting what you feel will help you move quickly through the rebound process and help you find the energy you need to begin immersing yourself in job searching.

Force Yourself Out of Your Comfort Zone

Most people that are forced into unemployment are done so by organizational changes, layoffs, and closings. It doesn't matter why the change occurred but it can impact how you feel about it. If you've been with a company for a long time and have a significant career investment the transition can feel harder. Your age will also impact how quickly you recover. It's important to not box yourself in, you are valuable at any age and always employable. The prospect of changing jobs can be overwhelming and intimidating, your hesitancy may delay you from putting the necessary action into finding a new job. Once you've moved through the emotional stages of job change you can begin to venture out of your comfort zone.

  • Begin considering what you really want to do with the rest of your life.
  • Be positive!
  • Be prepared to put in hard work to achieve your goals

Take control of the unexpected

Once you are ready to begin seeking employment again, keep these key points in mind to help you succeed.

  1. Don't burn any bridges. Regardless of the reason for your job loss, don't let negative emotions damage or ruin networking you've accomplished in your career. Former supervisors and managers will play a big role in your job searching and may be needed for references and referrals.
  2. Accept Support. Let your family and those you trust know how they can assist you. Your family will be affected also, usually financially, but this change affects everyone.
  3. Never apologize for your situation. You are not your job. Reward yourself for all levels of accomplishments no matter where you are in the job seeking process. Always focus on continual improvement and solutions. Make notes of what you have and value in your life and do not let this cause any loss of self-esteem.
  4. Realize that setbacks are only temporary. Channel any negative emotions into constructive action.
  5. Don't make decisions in a hurry. When and if possible always avoid rushing into the market based on emotional response. Allow yourself to reflect, this is a critical transition and will require logic and systematic approaches to reach your new goals.
  6. View your job search as a fulltime job. When you do begin your search for a new job, treat it as a job. Organize yourself, your resume, your professional networks and make each day and effort as productive as possible.

Job Facts to Consider

No one is born knowing how to plan a career. So many life events can throw our plans off track. We learned many things in school but we didn't learn how to predict our futures. Your life is your responsibility. If you're unhappy, you need to take the power back over your life and make different choices. Career opportunities are everywhere. Working is a contract. You agree to help someone solve problems they have in exchange for compensation. To say there are no jobs is simply untrue. Opportunities are unlimited. We are only limited by our self-imposed restrictions. There is no better time than right now to make a change.

© 2018 Rebecca


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