Call it what you want – being laid off, fired, downsized or, as our British friends say, being made redundant. Whatever term is used, suddenly finding out that you are no longer employed is one of life’s true low points.
I know. I’ve been there a few times, and when the news breaks, you’re filled with conflicting emotions and thoughts. I felt anger, relief, disbelief and fear. My head raced from question to question: Would we be able to make our next mortgage payment? How could I kill my boss without getting caught? Would I receive my unused vacation pay? How would this look to future employers? Would I ever get another job?
Well, I did get other jobs. And if the boom falls on you, you will, too. With the economy slowing and companies going on a cost-cutting frenzy, it’s worth thinking about what would happen if the unthinkable happened to you. Based on my experiences, and those of others, here’s some advice:
* Allow yourself to feel whatever you feel. Losing a job is a shock. Your reactions – no matter how wacky they may seem at first – are perfectly normal. If you feel hurt, betrayed and furious, that’s OK. And if you are elated or feel happy when you think you should feel miserable, that’s fine, too. In the immortal words of Leslie Gore, it’s your party and you can cry (or laugh) if you want to.
* Your performance may not be the reason you were fired. As humans, we’re probably hard-wired to search for reasonable explanations. And we usually assume that if something bad happens to us, we probably did something to deserve it. That’s not necessarily true. You may have been fired simply because you were on the payroll at a time your employer was forced to cut back. The point is, just because you were let go doesn’t mean you are flawed or that it was necessarily your fault.
* Losing a job is no longer a stigma. In the past, being fired was right up there with having a child out of wedlock. Today, no one much cares about either. (It wouldn’t be the worst thing if some professional athletes cared about being unwed fathers, but let’s not go there). Anyway, there’s no time to feel guilty. You’ve got work to do.
* Start finding another job immediately. Procrastination is the Number One mistake I’ve seen among those who are fired. Whether or not you receive a severance package, and no matter how much money your former employer gives you to go away, don’t take a vacation or wait to reenter the job market. Get going immediately. You can rest later. Have a good cry or close the door and call your former employer every dirty name you can think of, then go for a brisk walk and come home and redo your resume. While you’re at it, make up a list of 10 people you’ll start calling the next day to let them know what happened and to tell them you’re looking for a job. Answer ads, look online, find companies that are doing interesting things, and go talk to everyone. Just do it.
(C) Copyright 2001 Evan Cooper. Syndicated by Paradigm News, Inc.