Losing your job can leave a bitter aftertaste, but when one door closes another one opens.
Whether you’ve been surplussed, down sized right sized, laid off, fired, or forced retirement, a job loss can be very devastating. Your career, finances and self-esteem can all be hit hard and in an instant, doubt and uncertainty wipe out any satisfaction and security.
But, while losing your job may be out of your control, the way that you react to it is not. With the determination to spring back and a focus on the positive aspects of your situation, you can turn adversity into opportunity. This article will show you how.
Actions to Avoid
You lose more than just your regular salary when you lose your job. You can also lose the ability to collect pension and retirement benefits, status, routine and your social network. These all can quickly go away, along with less tangible assets like confidence, self-esteem, purpose and identity.
Loss of a job, especially for those with over 20 years of service, affects the same receptors in the brain as loss of a loved one. The same five stages of grief apply for the employee going through job loss , denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to get through the loss of a job.
As the reality of your situation confronts you, you might feel upset one minute and annoyed the next, and it can be tempting to vent your frustrations. However, reacting on impulse is almost always a terrible thing, and it can make an already difficult situation even worse.
Here are some actions to avoid doing in your last few weeks.
Becoming Openly Angry
Venting your anger at managers and colleagues when you’re told that you’ve lost your job might make you feel better temporarily, but it will damage your career in the long run.
Your employer may be reluctant to give you a great reference and/or a nice severance package if you leave “under bad terms.” And if you cross paths with your former colleagues later in your career, they’ll likely remember your negative behavior and actions.
It’s far better to leave calmly, with your dignity and integrity intact, than to “burn your bridges” before you’ve even left the building.
Once you have left, never criticize your manager, your colleagues, or the company behind their backs, as they may hear about your comments. Talking trash in the office or on social media platforms about them can make you look unprofessional, sour and rude. These will show up later so be careful
Also, in doing this, you may unwittingly sabotage your replacement’s chances of making a success of his or her new role – it may unsettle him, and make him unsure about whether he’s made a good choice in working for that company.
Taking It Personally
If you were laid off, you might feel that you lost your job because you weren’t qualified enough, you did something wrong, or you “didn’t look the part.” But, no matter how personal it feels, the chances are that your departure really wasn’t because of you.
Companies routinely cutback and restructure as business circumstances change, and sometimes they have to do layoffs. AT&T, for example, laid off 10,000 people last year and Verizon offered an early retirement package to 44,000 employees in 2018. Job loss isn’t down to personal failure, and you shouldn’t feel guilty if this is the case.
However, when losing your job was unquestionably your fault, there will likely be several issues that need to be addressed so that you don’t make the same mistakes. We’ll look at some of these in the next section.
Meanwhile, you should try to guard against self-pity. Even the best people get fired – take Steve Jobs at Apple, for example – so do not dwell on your situation and focus on creating a plan to move forward.
Here are 10 tips To Get You Through A Job Loss
1. Find out Where You Stand
Make sure that you know your employee rights before you walk away from your organization. Find out what you’re entitled to from your employer and from the government – benefits, severance packages, and pension schemes, for example.
Also, ask about references, the vacation time you accrued, sick and overtime pay, and your eligibility for unemployment insurance, bridging your company pension if you come back, and the continuation of health coverage.
If you are surplussed or right sized in that location or hub and are short of the important 75 points (Rule of 75), do everything you can to stay at the company until you hit these magical benchmarks. Also be aware of the fine print. AT&T offers to get you to 75 points but that extension only applies to ATT Health Care (See article) Also, if you are laid off or surplussed from AT&T and are rehired within two (2) years after your Termination of Employment, the absence will not be a break in service(See ATT Rehire Article). Some companies terminate jobs in one location or hubs but the job may be available in another city or hub. Relocating may get you to the Rule of 75 points, which will give you a vested pension and retirement healthcare. If necessary, transfer to a new city to get to 75 points by renting a cheap apartment or become a roommate in another city for a year. Then come home every other week. When we talk to candidates who lost their job but have the ability to keep employment if they relocate, most choose not to relocate. This may be a mistake and could end up losing in some cases in excess of $100,000 in their pension benefits. The Rule of 75 most companies offer also provides for retirement healthcare, and could be a $1000 a month additional perk not available at your new job.
Severance packages also vary enormously, so, if your settlement does not cover everything that you need, check with your manager. Also determine how to take the severance (lump sum or payments). Being able to use your company laptop might be useful while you’re looking for another job, for example, or you might want to ask whether you could remain on a part-time or freelance basis. The company may not say “yes,” but you won’t know without asking. Also consider taking severance over a period of two separate years to lower the tax consequences
2. Review Your Finances and speak with a Retirement Specialist
Your finances will inevitably be squeezed without the certainty of a regular income. Run a cash flow projection and budget before you leave the company to determine how to leave. Get a free consultation from an advisor or run it using the many free internet finance tools available online.
Run the cash flow first to determine what you need to make on your new job. The cash flow will assist you in determining how to take severance. If you receive a pension a cash flow will determine how much more you need to make to supplement the monthly retirement annuity. Remember some of the biggest mistakes is not relocating or traveling to a remote position to hit the Rule of 75.
Once you run a cash flow construct a budget. Start by writing a list of your major household expenses – mortgage or rent payments, utility bills, and so on. Then, note down all of your assets and sources of income – your severance pay, any unemployment benefits, savings, and food stamps, for example. Finally, revise your budget to fit your new circumstances.
Trim any unnecessary outgoings, develop a plan for spending less, and consider contacting creditors to refinance your mortgage or reschedule any repayment plans. (You may be able to take a mortgage “payment holiday” in the short term.)
Knowing how much time your resources will allow you for job hunting can help you to keep stress and anxiety in check. After all, having time can be the difference between rushing to take the first mediocre job you can find, and finding a satisfying job that you’ll love.
You may also need to consider taking on temporary or freelance work to bring in short-term cash. Keep this in mind, and look into it in the first few days after your departure.
3. Rally Your Supporters
Get on Linkedin and connect with your fan base. You may feel upset or embarrassed, and your instinctive reaction may be to run away and hide. Confiding in positive-minded family, friends, former colleagues , and even career counselors and support groups can make a huge difference for you, and can help gain an alternative perspective on your situation.
You are not alone. Many others in your company are in the same boat and they also want to discuss their frustrations. Sharing your feelings about what has happened could possibly help you deal with stress as well as others deal with their stress. This communication reduces any sense of isolation that you might feel. Social contacts also can advise and encourage you, and they can be a source of information about new job opportunities as well.
Stress can cause very severe health problems and even, in extreme cases, death. You should take the advice of a very suitably qualified health professional if you have any concerns about stress-related illnesses, or if stress is causing you significant or persistent unhappiness.
4. Be Kind to Yourself
It’s very important to deal with the emotional disruption of losing your job. It’s equally important to look after your physical health by exercising, eating right, and getting lots of sleep .
It’s also wise to allow yourself time to unwind if you can afford to do so. Take a short weekend getaway, read a book the book you’ve said you would read, but kept putting it off for later, or spend a few weeks on a home project. Whatever you do, taking time out to absorb the news is important.
Look for any signs that you might be becoming anxious and depressed, such as difficulty concentrating on simple tasks and remembering small details, being overly tired from lack of sleep, and eating out of boredom, and consider seeking help from a professional if you feel that you may be suffering and have trouble coping.
Family members will very likely be affected by your job loss, too. Financial pressures may hurt almost immediately, and family roles may have to change. Your partner may need to find a job or take on more shifts and volunteer overtime, for example.
Children are particularly sensitive to these kinds of problems. Try to help them understand the situation by having a conversation with them about the changes that could be coming, and spend quality, uninterrupted time with them.
5. Restructure Your Situation
In order to move forward, you need to restructure your situation, so that you don’t see yourself as a victim or think of losing your job as “the end of the world.” Switch your focus from the job that you just lost to the job that you want, and adopt an upbeat, move forward with confidence mindset. That will be important to your success in making a new start.
If you lose your job because you’ve been let go, try to learn from your past mistakes. Think about the reasons why you were let go. Were you performing to the best of your ability? What could you have done differently? How much of the dismissal was really in your control? Try to be honest with yourself, in order to help you to understand the current situation better and to come up with greater possible outcomes.
Be honest with yourself, and with any prospective new employer. Remember that they might have already been informed about what has happened from someone else. Carefully and humbly explain the reasons for your departure, what you’ve learned from it, and what you plan to do in the future to avoid repeating it. This may help you rebuild your reputation, as someone who can accept uncomfortable truths and grow from them.
6. Assess Your Goals
Now is a great time to think about what you want to do next. Understand the opportunity to reassess your career goals, discover your values , and figure out your passions and interests. You have the chance to reaffirm what matters to you or to go in a different direction .
If the idea of returning to the exact same sector appeals to you, think about why you were laid off in the first place. Research the industry trends that might affect your future job security? Try avoiding things that might put you back in the exact same situation a few years down the road.
If, however, you enjoy the idea of moving to a new career, try doing a self-assessment to match your skills, values, interests, and personality to new career plans.
7. Create a Plan
Knowing where you want to be is one thing. Figuring out how you’ll get there is another. So, you should find a job search strategy.
A job search strategy involves reviewing your strengths and weaknesses. Figure out what skills and expertise you’ll need to acquire a new role, and reconnect with your network of friends, associates and former colleagues.
8. Magnify Your Job Hunting Skills
It’s always a good idea to break down and revise your cover letter and resumé, so that they’re in perfect shape as soon as you need them. Make sure that your resumé is up to date, concise, written clearly, and accurate – because you’ll need it to work very hard for you.
Next, turn your attention to better your interview skills and fully research positions that you decide to apply for, that way, you have a better chance to make a great first impression when you go for an interview.
9. Search the Job Ads
While looking for vacancies, vastly search your options and keep an open mind. Use different job search engine sites, local newspapers, business-based social media networks, company websites, employment agencies, and top networking pages.
Widening your search beyond your target profession may open up opportunities in related fields that you may not have considered initially, such as being a radio host, if your previous field was being a news anchor.
10. Keep Being Positive
So you’ve come through getting laid off. You’ve dealt with the initial shock, you have put yourself back on your feet, and made a plan to move forward. You’re making a come back!
But, however well prepared and optimistic you are now, you can’t control everything. It might take much longer than you’d like to acquire your dream job, so try to stay motivated and think positive. All your hard work and effort will eventually pay off.
Getting laid off can be a devastating experience. However horrible you feel, though, it’s crucial to remain calm and act professional, and try to avoid doing anything that might hinder your reputation or integrity.
Although not a priority of your list, but very important, consider creating a cash flow and budget before you resign or retire to understand how to take severance (if offered), how to take the pension (if available) and whether you should relocate for 1-2 years to reach your Rule of 75. IMPORTANT: If you are laid off or surplussed from AT&T and are rehired within two (2) years after your Termination of Employment, the absence will not be a break in service (See ATT Rehire Article)
Try to avoid becoming publicly frustrated and venting your anger at your managers and colleagues, and whatever happens, try to avoid taking things too personally. Once you’ve left, never talk negatively about your manager, colleagues, or the company behind their backs, as they may hear about your comments.
Be honest with yourself and others about any and all mistakes that you might have made, and be proactive about trying to learn from them.
Dealing with the emotional fallout, assessing your current situation, and creating a plan for moving forward will enable you to go beyond being fired and on to a more satisfying, rewarding future.