By C.J. Liu , Certified Professional Career Coach, special to PayScale.com
Due to a major corporate reorganization, I’ve been laid off! Is this a career killer? How do I keep my cool and get a new job without risking a salary cut when joblessness seems to be up across the board? Or should I embrace the time off, indulge in unemployment benefits and not worry about it?
Jobless in Ohio
Job loss in the context of layoffs is definitely not a career killer. But it’s important to know how to stay positive through downsizing and losing jobs. Try to think of your job loss as an opportunity to reframe your thinking – to pause and reflect on how happy you were with your career, and how you’d like to try a different direction.
The Emotional Roller Coaster of Job Loss
For some, being laid off comes as a relief and a much-needed break from a hated job. Others may feel anxious, insecure, and fearful of the financial impact, and the uncertainty of not knowing what is next irrespective of whether they liked the job or not. Either way, getting laid off can be as emotionally taxing as a divorce.
The longer the relationship and commitment, the harder and longer it may take to trust another and start over again. Feelings of anger, blame, shame, betrayal, disillusionment, depression, disorientation, and loss of all motivation and energy are all completely normal during a job loss.
6 Ways for Managing Job Loss Stress
Here are some ways to keep your cool and gain perspective during this trying time, which is the most important thing to do right after getting laid off even before engaging in a traditional job search.
1. If you’re laid off, throw a party. It may sound counterintuitive, but giving yourself proper closure is one of the first vital steps to managing job loss stress. Even if your company screwed up in acknowledging your service and work in a respectful way, it’s important to honor what was, acknowledge what it gave you, remember any notable accomplishments or fond memories, and then move on with new life lessons for your next job.
2. Take good care of yourself after a job loss. Be kind and generous to yourself. Getting laid off can take a toll on your mind, body, and soul. Managing job loss stress requires time for relaxation and renewal. Schedule a vacation or simply make time to relax at home. Get a pedicure, a massage, spend time with friends or engaged in your favorite hobbies. This renewal time will help you regain your clarity and internal compass after a job loss, which will be critical in creating your new career vision and finding your next gig.
3. Research your salary and job options. Things are never as dim as you think they are.
There are jobs out there – and there is a job that will be a good fit, with the right compensation and right growth opportunities. Think about how your skills might transfer to other industries or jobs and inspire yourself by researching your options.
4. Be selective in your job search. The desire to jump right back into the job market is tempting especially. However, people who panic during down times and take jobs with lower pay or a demotion often regret it.
5. Consider taking time off. Whether you take time off or not depends on your family responsibilities, financial resources, and how the layoff has impacted you. If you can afford to take time off, I definitely recommend it.
6. Let go of negativity about your old job. Before pursuing a job search, it’s helpful to let go of your negative feelings, emotions, attitudes or beliefs revolving around your job loss, the place you left or even about yourself. This includes letting go of trying to recreate your old situation exactly as it was and the clinging to your old life. Until you can release your negativity about being laid off, it will impact your job search attitude and can make you look like you’re bitter, desperate or lack confidence in your abilities. Stay positive, keep your mind open to change and adopt a positive mindset.
C.J. Liu is a certified professional coach, who helps professionals define success on their own terms. C.J. has taught for the University of Washington, Program for Early Parent Support, and is an adjunct staff from Centerpointe.