Surviving Your Career: (5) Steps to cope with a job loss

Over the course of a number of jobs and careers, I have been forced to leave a company or have been fired.  It happens to most people whether they see it coming or not.  I remember each time I was laid off as if it was yesterday!  It always seems to happen to me in the dead of winter when I am already depressed.  Most times I was given a two week severence and the advice to go to the unemployment office, of which, I have done twice with no regrets.

Losing a job is always a disturbing event, especially when you don't expect it.  We're filled with anger, remorse, anxiety, and fear when it happens.  Yet, with bills mounting and monthly expenses continuing, we don't have much time to work through the grief process and heal ourselves.

I spoke with a highly respected grief specialist and industrial psychologist, Dr. Richard E. Augspurger, for tips on how to deal with the loss of a job and what he recommends someone can do to ease the pain.

Dr. Augspurger says that first of all you need to talk to your immediate family and closest friends upon the loss of a job and let them know you are looking for a new one.  These are the members you trust to act as your support system.

Step number two is to describe to persons who have busines contacts exactly what you would like to do in your next role, and ask them for contact information of a referal or two.

Thirdly, he suggests that you acknowledge to yourself and trusted persons what you are feeling and thinking about the loss.  This step is vitally important to do or it will complicate your interviewing success. Then upgrade your 1-2 page resume to be a strong and succinct summary of your accomplishments and translate responsibilities into action items.  Share your resume with a professional.

Lastly, Dr. Augspurger recommends using self-talk to tell yourself and believe that you can land a good new job within six months with a comparable compensation.  He suggests that you consider using a career coach to maximize your skills, especially in this slow economy.

I wish I would have had this information when I was laid off from a radio rep position I held years ago.  Instead, I walked home in sub-below zero temperaures numb from the firing and headed straight to a bar where I proceeded to drink too many martinis! This didn't help heal me, it just gave me a killer hangover the next day!  Dr. Richard Augspurger can be reached at 312/405-4021 or  Thanks Dr. Augspurger, we're all feeling better already!



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  • I don't know . . . Sometimes an evening wallowing in booze and self-pity has a 'reward' feeling to it.

    Like Scarlett said, "Tomorrow is another day."

  • In reply to RegularGuy:

    Hi Regular Guy- Okay, there is a reward-feeling wallowing in booze the day you get fired, but then it's time to get proactive. Besides, booze is expensive.

  • In reply to RegularGuy:

    can apply to jobs and contracts, higher paying ones first, then lower and lower until hired.
    with no job, one has time to apply.

  • In reply to RegularGuy:

    One thing I NEVER see anyone blog about is what to do when you aren't layed of, but you're fired. There is a difference and the two are too often lumped together as one thing, thus mixing the advice on what to do next into one delicious stew for those layed off, not for those fired.

  • In reply to RyanJustice:

    Within the Outplacement industry to assist persons with their searches, and I am certain Terri would agree, there is NO DIFFERENCE between being downsized or fired [it is actually called 20 different things]. The most important issue is to get over the feelings of what happened and land well into a new and more satifying role.

  • In reply to RegularGuy:

    Thanks for the comment. There's also the case where a work environment is so bad you're forced to quit to maintain your sanity. Whether you're fired, laid off or have to quit, you still have to deal with the loss and move on. But, thanks for the message. I'll address it.

  • In reply to TerriLeeRyan:

    Exactly. My situation was almost a week away from that point. The stress of extreme micromanagement affected my performance enough that human errors were inevitable and they beat me to the punch. Then, I blogged.....

  • In reply to TerriLeeRyan:

    To tag on to the professional advice:
    Before you're in a position to be laid-off or fired, make sure that you connect with your entire network via LinkedIn. Build up a solid cache off testimonials...and give plenty, as well. Also make sure that your profile is sharp, well-written and updated frequently, using a lot of keywords. So many recruiters are now solely using LinkedIn as their main recruiting tool.
    On to the resume. Make sure that your resume focuses on the accomplishments and results of your work, rather than the tasks and functions. Does your resume read like a job description? If so, you're focusing on the wrong things.
    Once you've bolstered your resume and a few days have passed, take a look at why you were the one to be let go. Was this a personal issue or strictly a business decision? Once you be real about this issue, than you can choose to move forward in the same direction, or possibly move on to something that better suits your skills and career goals.
    After that, create a networking letter. This is going to be similar to a cover letter, but you'll send this directly to people you know. This can be a printed OR an email. Explain that you're back in the job market and that you're pursing X,Y and Z jobs. Ask for this person's help with your search. List out a few of your accomplishments in bullets and then close the letter (or email) by offering to return the favor: "And of course, I am looking forward to returning the favor to you. If I can help your professional advancement through connections in my own network, please don

  • In reply to ResuMAYDAY:

    Wow, thanks for the tips on resume writing and networking. I would say that I favor calling people as a networking tool rather than a letter or e-mail. We are all getting too many mail e-mails these days and it's not as effective as it has been in the past. Nothing like the sound of a voice to convey a message. TLR

  • In reply to TerriLeeRyan:

    I took a client phone call and hit 'post comment' before I was done. The importance of the letter is that you're attaching your updated resume to the email, so that people can review your career history. Calling is fine too, but if someone is going to help you, they need to be familiar with your background and they need to be able to forward your resume to any appropriate contacts. This is how you tap into that elusive 'hidden job market'. Trust me, it works for my C-level clients and can work for anyone at any career level!

  • In reply to ResuMAYDAY:

    I am very familiar with the "Hidden Job Market" which is a popular platform of mine and featured in TCW magazine and ABC-7 TV. Thanks for the tips for the viewers. TLR

  • In reply to ResuMAYDAY:

    The day after I lost my last position, I printed 100 resumes, wore business appropriate clothes and went door-to-door passing out my resume at Business buildings and Industrial parks in the suburbs.

    I've also never stopped networking. I've been going to networking events around once a month whether I'm working or not. I always follow up and stay in touch with my network, just to say hello, a cup of coffee, or whatever.

  • In reply to je090290:

    Jim, sounds like you are making a real effort to find a job, but you're going to the wrong places. You need to set up your job search like a business plan for a company; you're the company. You are You, inc. You can send along your resume if you'd like and I'll take a look at it. I really sense you are markable, but just in a rut. TLR

  • In reply to je090290:

    I had two jobs, one full time and one part-time. I have been fired from both jobs in the last 6 months. One firing was unexpected and was not the result of any misconduct, the other firing was due to not showing up for a scheduled shift.I am devastated, and would love some advice on how I can obtain another full-time job with benefits. Career Coach - do you have any advice on how I can overcome my current position to "shine" in interviews?

  • In reply to lynnbode:

    Hi Lynn- So sorry to hear that you lost both jobs! Did you get unemployment benefits on the full time position? Were you downsized out of a job? What industry are you in? Have you redone your resume to better reflect your skills and experience? Do you have good referrals? If not, you need to work on this. I need more information to better help you package yourself. Call me at my office at 312/726-4691 and we can chat about next steps for you.

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