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Keys to managing job loss, part 1

At some point in your professional career, you may be faced with (or have already been faced with) being laid off or otherwise downsized from your previous employer. The news can come in many fashions, but the result is that you will no longer be gainfully employed. You may receive severance pay, which is a sign of good faith on the employer’s part. You may even receive outplacement assistance to help you manage your career transition. Whatever the case, you will eventually have to deal with the implications of being out of work. But just how do you do it? Part one of this four-part series will begin to discuss how.

Deal with the emotions of the situation; it is okay to express fear, anger, or sadness.

Avoiding your emotions is a quick way to sabotage the rest of your career search. Pretending that the layoff did not happen and hiding it from family and friends won’t help. Job loss is not unlike any other loss in life. It is important to fully express your emotions so that in time you can move forward.

Realize that unemployment is reversible and there are other employers available that will have opportunities.

So what if you did work for your last employer for 20 years? Sure, you formed many strong relationships, had a routine that you were used to, and even carved out a niche where you were the go-to person. Just like you contributed for your last employer, you can contribute to a future employer in the same or in a similar way.

Work on maintaining a positive mental attitude toward yourself and your situation.

Even in the midst of confusion and frustration as it pertains to your job search, it is important for you to find ways to look on the bright side. Read positive materials, watch positive programming; what goes in, comes out. Reflect on your career and the contributions that you were able to make. Use this positive energy to fuel your job search. Resist the urge to participate in negative discussions about your past employer. There are more important issues at hand.

Do not attempt to start your job search until you have dealt with the emotional impact of your job loss.

This supports earlier advice about dealing with emotions. There is no way to interview with confidence until you have dealt with your emotions, reflected back on your career, decided what you want to do next, and prepared your career search documentation to support this goal.

Expect to go through a full range of emotions during your job search, both positive and negative.

Think roller coaster ride. That is the best way to describe being out of work and managing a job search. There will be the highs of newly formed professional connections, calls from recruiters, responses from employers in regards to positions you have applied to and the lows of promises not kept, calls not returned, and offers not received. Whatever the case may be, try not to lose your composure. Expect these ups and downs with the realization that all roller coasters eventually come to an end.

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