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Don't Keep Your Job Loss a Secret!

Sharing a Secret
Sharing a Secret
(Microsoft clipart)

A bygone era of 60-70 years ago brings to mind a segment of men who, when they lost their jobs, would put on their suit and tie and spend their days at the library rather than let their wives—and especially their neighbors—know that they were unemployed. Thankfully, we’ve left this arcane thinking in the past for the most part.

According to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the May 2014 unemployment rate of 6.3 percent represents 9,799,000 out-of-work Americans. The odds are that as you read this article, even if you are employed, you no doubt know someone who is not. By the sheer numbers of people looking for jobs today, the stigma associated with job loss is minimal.

I'm not glossing over the fact that losing one's job is a major life experience. Nor am I suggesting that the topic be dealt with flippantly. It might take an amount of time depending on your temperament to process job termination, especially if it wasn't anticipated. If you're too embarrassed or private to ever mention it at all, however, you will assuredly obstruct your resources for useful suggestions, job leads and referrals. Consider that by proactively addressing it you get to define for yourself the message that will be disseminated regarding how you're faring.

Not sharing job loss, on the other hand, keeps you in a dungeon of self-pity, inactivity, anger, sadness—or all of the above. It keeps you stuck, chained to the ghost of Employment Past. Rather than withering in secrecy, today’s job search demands a proactive plan of action, the first step of which is to let everyone know. There are varying ways to do this, from simply vocalizing it as you interact with family, friends, neighbors and colleagues, to preparing an electronic announcement through email or social media. However you choose to let people know, the key is that your message is not Help me get a job; rather it’s I’m looking for information towards getting hired.


I know of a client who prepared an e-mail blast to selected LinkedIn connections announcing that he had recently lost his job. He said in the body of the text that he was not expecting any of them to help him get a job. Rather, he was appealing to them for any of the following:

  1. suggestions on how he should embark on his search, especially from those with a similar background as his
  2. company names to add to his existing list of target companies, the list of which he provided so his contacts would know his criteria
  3. names of individuals within his target companies with whom he could generate productive conversations

The response to his email was overwhelmingly profitable. The individuals who couldn’t offer any constructive information at that time offered him morale-boosting encouragement. Those who could provide expedient information did, without hesitation.

Whatever your mode of spreading the word about your job loss, the point is that you are shooting yourself in the foot by keeping that knowledge to yourself.

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