Losing the security of paid employment can mean the loss of so much more than just losing a job. How do you effectively find new employment, that works for you, when you still need to work through the loss?
Losing A job
At some point in our employment history, we will lose a job. It may be through company downsizing, redundancy, or just plain old getting fired. I’ve been through it three times, and only one of those occasions was anything to do with my performance.
Getting fired (or not having a short-term contract renewed) can be a conscious decision, it can be subconscious, or you could have done something that will get you fired (whether you know about it or not). It can also be a personal issue (personality conflicts, a hateful manager etc.) However, it will always happen when you don’t expect it to or when you really can’t afford it.
It doesn’t matter which way you find yourself without work (unless it’s a conscious decision to quit), it always feels like a terrible loss and you need to take some time to work through the grieving process.
What you lose when you’re laid-off
It’s more than losing the place where you spend a third of your life, there are so many things that are linked to our employment status that it can be difficult to process just how much we might have lost when losing a job.
Security – Financial and job-based
When you have been in a role or a company for more than a year or two, you start to feel quite secure. For many companies, after the first six months, you have proved your worth and value to the powers-that-be and you feel secure in your ability and the way that management perceives you. You make friends, you start to feel secure.
After this time you start to feel more financially secure, you might add more to your savings or you allow yourself more ‘luxuries’ in your daily life. Maybe you’ll sign up for a subscription service like a gym membership or other monthly outgoing that you can afford, now that you’re feeling more secure.
Losing that security is a blow you can probably ill-afford to lose. You suffer the loss of friends and acquaintances (even though you say you’ll keep in touch), the security of knowing you’ll be able to pay the bills next month, and the security of knowing that you are well-perceived in your role and you are performing adequately.
Financial independence is a significant requirement of freedom. When you are financially dependent on someone else, whether that is the state, family, friends, or even your own savings, it restricts the way you live your life and can have a significant impact on those helping you.
It may be that you can rely on your partner or spouse for the period between jobs, but it makes you financially dependent on them for everything. Most of us don’t like feeling dependent on anyone.
Self-esteem (and the confidence that goes with it)
Becoming unemployed can be a huge kick in the teeth. It’s similar to the end of any relationship when you weren’t the instigating party, you can begin to feel that you weren’t worth keeping hold of. You start to wonder why you were so easy to let go. All of these questions can begin to erode your self-esteem and the value you place on yourself.
When you start to doubt your abilities, your value to employers, and your belief in yourself, you begin to lose your self-esteem and your confidence. This loss of confidence is so much more debilitating because it affects your search for replacement employment.
Silver Lining – You gain something too
It’s not all despair and gloom when losing a job, but it takes working through the losses to realise what you have gained in the process.
Catalyst for change
Unless it came from an unexpected lay-off, there was a part of you that was either consciously or subconsciously waiting to leave or to be let go. You may not have expected to be leaving there just yet, but you weren’t expecting to stay forever.
Maybe you were bored, stuck in a rut, not fulfilling your potential. All of these things could suggest that you weren’t performing at an optimum level. Losing a job could be just the catalyst for making the changes you needed.
Fear can be one of the biggest barriers to making changes to careers, employers or other bread-winning schemes. The fear of ending up unemployed and without income, struggling to find work in your new field. When you find yourself out of work unexpectedly, the worst has already happened, there is nothing left to fear, and nothing holding you back from pursuing a new direction.
Maybe you’ve been pondering self-employment or starting your own business. What is left to stop you trying it now?
All of those little extras that you have added to your monthly outgoings. Even the extra’s you’ve added to your home – How much TV do you really watch? Did you really need Prime Video and Netflix? Do you need either?
Be honest, how often have you ever used your gym membership? For the number of times you have managed to squeeze in, between work and home life, wouldn’t it be just as cheap to pay as an when you go?
It’s worth acknowledging that you probably have a ton of ‘stuff’ in your home that you rarely (if ever) use. How often have you used that fantastic Cuisinart-style food processor, which you bought when it was half-price? Do you really need that juicer that has been out of the box once?
You don’t know how long you will be without work, maybe you will walk into your dream job before the month is out (fingers crossed). However, there are no guarantees. Getting rid of all of the extraneous outgoings will help your last salary go further, decluttering your home and selling anything of value will help keep you going a little bit longer.
The bonus to downsizing your clutter, streamlining your financial outgoings and generally having a fiscal and physical clear-out will help you to mentally prepare for a new beginning and close the door on the old.
It might not feel like much of a bonus, and between applying for every job that you think might want you and the interviews they generate, it might not seem like you have all that much extra time. However, you’re not working to anyone else’s schedule right now.
When do you feel most productive? Do you want to clean your home in the wee small hours of the night? Okay, I’m not advocating getting a hoover out at 3 am to annoy your neighbours in an apartment building, but you can do everything else if you don’t clatter around your home like a lunatic. You can study for your career change, you can do all of the things that you’ve been putting off because you don’t have the time, you don’t have the motivation when you finally get an open window. Use the time that you have gained to make your future look brighter.
Navigating losing a job and finding a new one
Losing a job is not fun, I can’t pretend that it is. The fact that majority of the population lives paycheck to paycheck, with possibly a little bit left over for savings, does not lend itself to allowing any time for grieving the loss of a job before jumping right into the pool of job hunting.
Most of us need a bit of practice to get to a point where interviews are easy. When you have been with a company for a significant amount of time, getting back into the mindset of an interviewee, rather than a respected employee, takes some work. You have to get back into the groove of selling yourself because your prospective employers DON’T know you or what you can do.
How do you navigate the feelings of loss and grief over losing a stable position, or the feelings of not being good enough, to then leap back into selling your skills? There’s no easy way to do it, but it needs to happen for a successful attempt at getting a new job. When you still feel dejected and unworthy, you can’t project any belief in yourself to a future employer.
You need to make your way through the stages of grief and loss. If you know what you need to do when you find out that you’re being laid-off, or fired, you can begin the journey before you even get to your first interview.