Rebounding from Job Loss
By Chelse Benham
“When you get fired you need to do three things: get help, get stabilized and get
busy.” – by Harvey Mackay, author of “Sharkproof”
Loosing one’s job can be demoralizing, debilitating and extremely painful. It
brings with it a wide array of feelings spanning bitterness to inadequacy and it
can seem impossible not to take the loss personally. First things first, deal with
There is a common process people go through when handling loss. It comes in
phases such as: denial, anger, sadness, bargaining and finally acceptance. The
quicker you get to the last step the better. You may feel angry or bitter, but do not
dwell too long on these emotions. Harboring tem can take valuable energy from
finding a new job and there is good reason not to spend much time wallowing in
According to the latest employment report released by the U.S. Department of
Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment total nonfarm payroll
employment rose by 157,000 in December, 2004 to 132.3 million, seasonally
adjusted. This increase followed a gain of 137,000 in November. Over the year,
payroll employment grew by 2.2 million. December's increase included gains in
health care and social assistance, professional and business services, wholesale
trade, and financial activities. So there is no time to waste people are hiring. Be
proactive about finding new employment.
One of the most thorough and comprehensive publications for dealing with the
loss of a job is the “Creating A New Future: The Job Loss Workbook” found at
In this free downloadable 69 page workbook, there are sections on negotiating a
severance package to starting your own business. Everything you need to
bounce back from the loss of a job.
According to the article “Life Events:” Handling the Unexpected,” found at the
Practical Money Skills Web site, it suggests that upon losing your job try to
negotiate the best severance package you can from your former employer. If it
was a layoff or amicable departure, get letters of reference from those you
worked with, especially supervisors. Also, get documentation of projects you
worked on that will highlight your skills to a potential employer.
The next step is to file for unemployment at http://www.doleta.gov or go to your
local unemployment office. Receive your entitled benefits until you get back on
your feet. There used to be a stigma attached to being unemployed and, as a
result, receiving an unemployment check. But as the economy shifts, more and
more people are finding themselves out of work for a period of time and
unemployment is becoming an expected stage of life.
Create or update your resume. Use quotes by people about your performance to
promote yourself within your resume and its cover letter. Highlight your talents,
skills, background, accomplishments and abilities. Separate yourself from other
candidates and stand out from the crowd. There are several companies that will
create your resume and a cover letter for you. Try these Web sites
www.resume.com or www.e-resume.net
After you have updated your resume, post it on the following sites:
Resume improvement is just the start of putting together a comprehensive job
hunting campaign. An article on the Wall Street Journal Web site called,
“Rebound From a Job Loss with a Smart Game Plan” by Bradley G. Richardson,
details explicit steps someone should take after experiencing termination of
employment. Bradley advises to do the following:
Contact your former employer's competitors. Your former employer's
main competitor should be one of your first calls. Do not bother with the
human-resources department or online job postings. Start by contacting
the head of the department you wish to work in and tell him or her directly
about your experience.
Strange as it may seem, your setback may be a blessing. You may stand
a better chance of securing a raise or promotion by changing employers
than by remaining with the same company.
Investigate working for an employer that serves your industry or is
ancillary to it. If you love the industry you have worked in, but want a
different type of position, consider working for a related organization. Your
industry experience and transferable skills are attractive to an employer in
an allied profession because you have to learn only a small piece of the
business rather than start as a rookie.
Look into jobs with smaller companies. If you enjoy what you do but
would like to slow down, consider working for a smaller company in your
chosen field. Although there are always exceptions, smaller employers
may be less demanding and provide more variety to your work. Plus, if
you have been a highflier with a large organization, you are a prize catch
for a small to midsize company (or nonprofit) that can use your experience
and might offer you a more appealing culture.
Secure free-lance or contract work. Companies of all sizes frequently
outsource projects or hire contract professionals to perform certain work.
Free-lancing or working as a contractor allows you to earn an income
doing what you are trained to do, while keeping up your skills and making
Work part time to pay the bills. Another option is to work part time in any
position that you can find to simply pay the bills. It doesn't matter whether
the job is in your field. Just find something that gets you out of the house,
around other people, generating an income and contributing. But do not let
the part time work interfere with your looking for a new job.
Looking for a job is a job. Harvey Mackay, author of “Sharkproof,” offers 10
things a person should do when looking for work. A few are listed here.
1. Develop a routine and stick to it. Seeking work takes full commitment.
Set goals that are measurable, identifiable, attainable, specific and
written down for the week ahead.
2. Research all avenues of employment: newspapers, yellow pages, career
Web sites. Pick a company you would like to work for and do research
on it. Know everything you can and apply for a position you want
whether or not it is being advertised. “Cold call” the prospective
employer. Do not limit yourself to just the classifieds.
Look through trade magazines that relate to your industry. –
Some employers will advertise in industry publications to reach a
more targeted audience.
Headhunters – Pay someone to find you a job. Since they don't
actually get paid until they find you a job, they have a large
incentive to search.
The Internet – There are many Web sites with large job boards on
which employers advertise open positions. Also, check the Web
sites of companies in your field. They often have a page devoted to
openings in the company.
Networking – It is not what you know; it is who you know. Attend
industry events. Put the word out on the street. Get your name in
front of as many people as you can. You never know who has a
friend who is looking to hire someone just like you.
3. Work for free to get your foot in the door. Arrange to work part time to
learn everything you can. If you prove yourself, a position may be made
for you in the company.
4. Express yourself clearly. The one uniform disqualifying characteristic of
failed job candidates is grammatical or spelling mistakes on the resume.
The iron rule is that if you cannot prepare an error-free communication
while trying to get the job, you’re going to mess up on the job.
Regain your self-esteem by becoming proactive in your job search. The adage
“idle hands are the Devil’s work” illustrates how self-pity and inactivity can lead to
further frustration that prevents job loss recovery. Take with you the lessons
learned from your experience and face your future job prospects with enthusiasm
and dignity. Remember, no one can take those from you.
”If you're going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill