I wish I could say I have never heard those words before, but since I started my career in the midst of a recession, I have had the unfortunate circumstance of being laid off twice. The reasons were very different, but the loss was the same. I felt like I was the missing puzzle piece in an otherwise complete picture.
Losing your job is much like losing anything of value - you have to go through the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It is natural to feel these emotions, and I have found that with job loss, stages two through four feel most relevant. You feel cheated (and perhaps angry) toward your employer; then transition to feel like it was your fault, that you could have done something different, or that you were the problem. While it is okay to feel these emotions, it also makes your job search that much harder. While these negative emotions may tear you down, you have to constantly think positive in order to sell yourself.
A layoff feels different than the normal job search process. Oftentimes you seek a new job on your own terms with a mindset that you want something better. I have gained many life lessons going through layoffs, and I am here to tell you that your mindset after a layoff SHOULD be the same as if you’re searching for a job on your own terms. Always have the mentality that your next opportunity WILL be better than the last. But, if you’re stuck in a rut, it will take work and serious dedication to change your thoughts. Here are some tips:
- Be your own champion -- don’t settle for less. Because your income has dramatically shifted, even with unemployment wages, it is easy to feel like you should accept the first offer you get just to be paid. Wait until the job feels right, otherwise you will be in a situation that may result in a job search all over again. Despite the layoff not being on your terms, you can still identify areas in which you want to grow. Perhaps it is a time to reevaluate your career and ask yourself, “Is this where I want to be?” Take this valuable surplus of time to focus on what you need to make your future employment and self better.
- Keep your mind engaged and active. Unemployment is like an illness; people will treat you differently. Many say a layoff is the best job search scenario because it was out of your control. I am not sure I agree. Employers still prefer those who are employed. Additionally, several friends and family members will not be able to relate to your new situation. You now have plenty of time but no money to churn. Find ways to keep your mind engaged - maybe through volunteer work or by picking up that hobby you have always wanted to dedicate time to.
- Build your safety net and support system. While many will have a hard time relating to your new situation, you will quickly notice those who will go out of their way to send you job postings or will volunteer to be a reference. Or maybe they will be the ones to treat you to lunch and let you just vent about the process. Either way, you will find a new support system. Just be sure to thank them and return the favor if the time comes.
Layoffs are difficult, there is no easy way to say it. The average job search process is roughly nine months, and there will be many struggles and defeats along the way. But don’t give up the fight, because your next golden opportunity is out there. I believe it for me and I believe it for you too.