The recent wave of layoffs have left many from the workforce,
including myself, battling Unemployment Grief. Amid the progression
through these stages, I had time to reflect on lessons of resiliency.
The five stages of grief are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and
Acceptance, but I argue there are actually six.
The shock of such unsettling news often brings about denial. It
manifests itself in several forms such as believing there are
alternative roles at your company not yet explored or offered or that
the potential to return to your job actually exists. The reality is that
with a large pool of candidates, unless the skillsets are unique, it is
very unlikely even after a hiring freeze is lifted. Dismiss those
The question of “why me” follows. Anger can often be directed
inwardly to self and outwardly to others or even the perceived
source. Neither are healthy. Remember these situations aren’t unique
or personal, though it can certainly feel otherwise at times. Move
forward and connect with your support system and healthy outlets.
The past cannot be rewritten!
Bargaining – Through a series of cycles we try to find immediate
comfort to shield us from our anger, our worry, our grief. Phrases
like “what if” or “if only” cannot apply to the present. These mental
processes have no action and cannot erase the past. We cannot
bargain with time. Let us move past that!
So, you have resurrected your support system and endured a few rejections, or
in some cases, no response at all. (I hear crickets!) You may even feel
overwhelmed by the personal responsibilities that still exist in the face of this
Stop! Depressive thinking will only lead back anger and denial which are all
unproductive ways of coping or rising to the challenge. So, things feel
overwhelming. Well set a plan and a daily to-do-list just like you did on the job.
Follow that same work schedule and routine that motivated you to get up and
do your best for each workday.
Make coffee, get resume/CV out, references, cover letter, email, LinkedIn up on
screen. You are the chief executive for the rest of your life, and you have
actionable items to work on today. Intently apply to ten jobs, follow up on
previous applications, reach out to a contact or a colleague and thank a contact
or a colleague. Yes, you can!
Suddenly you feel a burst of optimism. You have a network of partners on your side in
your quest to return to work. Yes, you will!
So, the responses are slow. Don’t sweat it. The light is at the end of this tunnel and the
things you can control will surely help make it happen.
Knowing and accepting that grief is a natural part of life and learning how to prepare for the
unforeseen is healthy. But that does not mean we need to repeat the cycle with the same
struggle each time. It is important to be resilient. To do so, we must not only learn from it but
apply new techniques to reduce its effect in the future.
So here are my chief takeaways when thinking about the next recession and layoff after a
return to work.
Never wait for the writing on the wall. Don’t ignore company town halls, company news,
reports and do seek out the details behind the details.
Grow your network always. Give LinkedIn the same attention as your Instagram. Whether
you’re riding a wave or waiting for the next one.
Expand your skillsets and seek training opportunities. Try LinkedIn Learning or self-paced
Post your resume, complete an application. Even if you’re employed. What’s the worst
thing that could happen. You’re offered a position for which you may have to refuse.
For the hustlers and I mean that in a positive manner. Resurrect your reliable side gig.
Research employment and job trends both locally and across states.
Share learned experience.