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Emotional Survival Tactics

Enda Goodwin

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Field Agent

Field Agent

Where do you start? These can be very tough times financially and emotionally. Be sure to focus on YOU first.  

Knowing that you are not alone in being jobless, which is especially prevalent in these uncertain economic times, is little solace. You may be in the position of having to support family while finding the confidence to throw yourself in the job market again. Your reality is your own. 

During the first mind-numbing days of job loss, you might find yourself asking: Why? You were a dedicated employee and always went the extra mile. Maybe you’re second guessing yourself … What if I stayed late for that meeting? Or volunteered for that other project? The “what-ifs” will invade your brain.  

This is where you must separate yourself from these thoughts. This sort of thinking is unproductive and hurtful. You need to figure out a way to look forward instead of backward.  

Here are some suggestions to get moving in the right direction:

  • Do something that helps you start processing what happened. Take a long walk, build something, cook, clean, or reorganize your home office. These physical tasks are helpful because they put your energy into something concrete, and like exercise, may help lift your spirits. For many stunned by sudden job loss, these small actions can start the healing process.
  • Get your support system in place.  Tell your spouse, partner, or best friend what happened and share how you’re feeling. While it may be tempting, don't call your network and tell everyone your news. Take time to absorb it first. You’ll be much more effective in leveraging your network once you're prepared.
  • Keep a journal. Writing down your thoughts can help quiet your mind and relieve stress. You can also keep a folder of articles and job postings to help create a plan or vision board as you plot your next career move.
  • Take advantage of your LHH program. Attend webinars and explore the CRN resources and tools. It's rare to have time to plan what you want to do next. Upskill or reskill by taking advantage of the CRN’s free educational resources:

For some, the combination of time, money (severance and unemployment), and an outplacement program is a huge opportunity. Make the most of this time and take advantage of your LHH resources so that when you look back on it, you'll be pleased with the progress you made.  

Remember, this is not the end of your life. Try to think of this as a new beginning with better times, and quite possibly, a better career ahead. It’s not a question of if you’ll find a job, but when.

Your First Week and Beyond

Remember that person you were before you lost your job? Your goal is to get back in that mental state. You’re still the same wonderful, talented individual you were before, but now some other lucky company has the chance to engage your talents.   

Some people, despite being unhappy in a position, will stay in a job for security reasons or fear of taking a risk. Sometimes we all just need a little push. Now it’s time to find out what’s in store for the next chapter of your life.

Tips to Ease Your Transition

  • Maintain your schedule as closely as you can. If you’re used to getting up at 5 a.m. and going to the gym, continue to do it. Don't give into the voice that says, What's the point? The point is you have a critical task in front of you – finding your next opportunity! Maintaining a predictable and productive schedule will only help.
  • Understand that you have a job – finding your next opportunity.It’s going to take intelligence, perseverance, and a plan. For many, it can be more challenging than “regular work.” It's more motivating to tell others that you're exploring career options rather than saying you're out of work, unemployed, or got fired. You’re not looking for sympathy. Instead, engage your network in effective ways to assist in your job search.
  • Start reclaiming your value. It’s common, when stunned by job loss, to feel as if you’re no longer a highly capable person. Remind yourself – several times a day – that your value hasn’t changed, only your employment status. You own your value. It should never be defined simply by your employment. While it's good to be a loyal employee, a good goal is to be "smart loyal," meaning you work hard, do quality work, but also understand that you – not your company – are responsible for your career.
  • Always introduce yourself in the present tense. Start with what you do, not where you worked. “I am a Process Engineer” is much more energizing than “I used to work for XYZ Company.” It's ironic but more people will want to help you if you sound upbeat and motivated. So even if you feel a little uncertain, try to sound positive when you talk with others. And on a difficult day, do paperwork or other activities that give you time to collect yourself before you reach out to others in your network.
  • Don’t talk badly about your former employer. As much as you might want to tell the world what a rotten boss you had, keep it to yourself. It’s counterproductive. A potential employer may even call your former boss. It’s especially important to never talk badly about your former company during interviews. They may see your current behavior as a reflection of behavior to come. Why should your new boss think you wouldn’t speak negatively about them, too?
  •  If You Get Stuck, Seek Outside Help. Through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) — found on your former company’s website or through its human resources department — you may be entitled to several free sessions, which are completely confidential. Job loss is a huge life change, and having a trained advocate help you through difficult feelings can be a smart strategy. In addition, if the counselor you meet with thinks you could benefit from additional sessions, he or she will refer you to another professional. Make sure to tell this person that you're in transition as they may charge on a sliding scale.

The emotions you’re feeling during this time are real. Take the time to acknowledge them and sort things out. The work you do now to take care of yourself, keep moving forward, and focus on the positive will only benefit your job search and help you meet your goals in the long run.

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