The Pink Slip Slump
It has many euphemisms: “laid off,” “downsized,” “let go.” But there’s no turn of phrase that can soften the blow when you feel more like you’ve been “fired,” “canned,” “terminated” or “axed.”
Unfortunately, job loss is a common challenge in these economically strained times: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, approximately 4.5% of the labor force—or approximately seven million people—is out of work at any given time. Since the year 2000, mega corporations and mom-and-pop businesses alike have been laying off workers, some of whom had served their employers for years. Maybe you were shocked when your boss claimed your performance was lacking or maybe you were the victim of office politics or possibly you’d heard rumblings about layoffs around the water cooler. No matter the reason for your dismissal, being fired stings.
Though you might be feeling dejected and fearful that you’ll never find another job, the first 30 days of losing your job can actually be a time of renewal and reflection. If you view this time as another life experience from which to learn and grow, this first month will set you on the path to finding your perfect job.
“Recognize that everyone who is successful has setbacks and failures,” says Lynn Joseph, Ph.D., career transition coach, consultant and author of The Job-Loss Recovery Guide: A Proven Program for Getting Back to Work—Fast. “The one trait that all successful people have is resiliency.”
Job Loss Doldrums
According to the Holmes-Rahe Scale of stressful life events, a job loss is considered the eighth most traumatic life experience one can have, preceded by divorce, serious illness or death in the family. “People go through the same stages of grieving with a job loss as if they had lost a loved one,” says Joseph, adding that the typical emotional stages stemming from job loss include shock and denial, fear and anxiety, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, which often includes forgiveness as a necessary component.
Of course, each person has a unique reaction. “Not everyone goes through every stage,” notes Joseph, “and they can come and go. If you’re 23 and don’t own a home or have children and those kinds of responsibilities, you probably won’t go through this kind of emotional trauma. The strongest predictors to stress from job loss are financial stress and attachment to your old job.”
When Lynnette Khalfani-Cox was laid off from her job as The Wall Street Journal reporter for CNBC television network, she was shocked. During her contract renegotiation, everything seemed to be a “go” and she had an impeccable track record behind her. “The first 30 days after I left were truly an emotional roller coaster, and I had enormous feelings of betrayal and letdown,” she says.