I work with many people who have been laid off. About half of them have been with the same company for anywhere from 10 or 15 to 40 years. Most of them had no plans of leaving and many have even witnessed prior staff reductions, where former colleagues were let go while they remained employed. The two biggest concerns they have are about resumes and networking. Here is exactly what I hear:
- “I have not written a resume in years.” Or, “I never had to write a resume–I just got this job and thought I would retire here.”
- “Networking? What do you mean by that? Or, “I don’t have a network!”
Given that 75% – 80% of jobs are found through networking, I am dedicating the next two blogs to those of you who have been with one company for a long time, knowing from first hand accounts I hear every day how scared and isolated most people are feeling. Keep in mind, however, that much of what I have to say can also apply to anyone who was laid off, regardless of their tenure with the company.
This rest of this blog is centered on the emotional aspect of being unemployed which requires a personal network of support. The next blog is about interacting with your professional network, with special emphasis on the power of being proactive rather than reactive for the rest of your career.
The Emotional Whirl-a-Coaster
It has been said many times, but it bears repeating, that job loss is exactly that–a loss. People who have been laid off experience a range of emotions, sometimes all at the same time! Some people are thrilled because finally, they will pursue things they have been putting off for years. That ranges from starting their own business or volunteer work to going back to school. Others are deeply shocked or grieving and can barely speak. Still others are angry and cannot understand how their performance could have been so excellent and yet, they have also been let go. Whether you need to get back to work as soon as you can or not, it is critical to find solid support somewhere, in order to do what may seem impossible at times–putting on a professional face for networking and interviews.
Alone Time vs. Isolation
Many who have been laid off are too embarrassed or ashamed to face people and others are just too hurt to speak. Some time alone can be necessary for healing, which can also allow you to become clear on what you want next in your career. However, there is a point at which alone time becomes prolonged and the end result is isolation. Isolation is an interesting thing. Cutting yourself off from people, feedback and help leaves you alone with the blaring voice of your mind, which now has even freer reign than normal to invent disempowering things. For example, you may become compartmentalized in your thinking, where a form of temporary amnesia blocks you from remembering your value, your skills, your goals and/or your worth. In an interview, someone might ask you to list your strengths and in that moment, you literally cannot recall.
Isolation is a downward spiral. To avoid it becoming a long term or even permanent mode, it is critical to use your personal network of family members or friends during this time. If that is not possible, and you have access to employee assistance programs as part of your severance package, consider using that. Some people form groups with other job seekers that meet regularly to check in on each other’s search progress and give assistance as needed. Whatever you do, please choose something because fear and isolation may make you want to withdraw at a time where for better or worse, you need to be spending at least some quality time interacting with others.
Next time: Help for moving from being reactive to proactive for the rest of your career.