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What now?

Below are excerpts from Damian Birkle's book, Career Bounce-Back! Please use the links below to jump to your section of interest:

A check list of things to do when you first get laid off

Great resources for keeping your job search productive

The best way to manage yourself to get back to working again

Recovering from a recent lay off

Job loss is overwhelming but there's much to do. Here are some things to consider if you've been laid off.

Company Severance Plans

At the time of your job loss or downsizing, you will be summoned into your supervisor’s office or into a conference room.  There you will be presented, by either your supervisor or a representative of the HR department, a folder or a brown business-sized size envelope prepared by Human Resources.  Don’t be surprised if your boss is reading from a script.  This is usually required by the company to insure everyone being downsized receives the same basic message regarding the company’s reason for the downsizing.  In most cases, you will be informed you have up to 30 days to sign and return any documents from the folder.  Take your time to read (and re-read) carefully at home the literature and any documents; be sure to cross-reference numbers and information with your Employee Hand Book which usually explains the company’s general severance plan.


Typically, when you take a severance package, you are releasing your former employer, fully and finally, from any liability for all claims you may have against that employer (regardless of how well documented) in exchange for whatever severance benefits the company is offering to pay you.


Understanding the Labor Law in Your State

If you don't have an employment contract, your employment is likely "at will."  This means your employer does not have to have a good reason to fire you as long as it is not for an illegal reason such as discrimination or retaliation.  You might hear it referred to as the “hire/fire” law or the “right to work” law which varies from state to state. 

(Source: FindLaw)

Consider seeking legal advice before you sign your severance agreement. Legal expertise will add to your confidence knowing you got the best package available. Don't

be intimidated by your severance package; try instead to negotiate around the company’s stated severance formula.  If you want something and don't make a counter proposal, then you will never know if the company would have revised your severance package in your favor.  Your former employer may see you as a special case and adjust your severance package to include your proposals.  Severance packages are always at the option of the company; the longer you hold out signing your severance agreement, the more uncomfortable the company may become.  This delay can increase your leverage and negotiating power.  Be sure to request, in writing, that the company will not dispute your unemployment claim.  The last time I was unemployed, my former company’s corporate HR department disputed my benefits because I was supposedly labeled “incompetent.”  During the appeal process, I mentioned I had requested from my local boss that the local branch of the company would not dispute my unemployment claim.  I provided a copy of an email with regards to my unemployment benefits not being disputed and the controversy was quickly settled.  I got full unemployment benefits. 


Providing severance packages is a good business practice, but is not required.  Unlike unemployment benefits, severance packages are not mandated by federal law.  Here are several items to consider when negotiating your severance package:

  1. Income Replacement - This compensation is usually formula based. For example, you may receive a week’s salary for every year you have been with the company.

  2. Insurance - Make sure you thoroughly understand your company's policy and how long you will remain qualified for company coverage once your severance period begins and ends.  Try to negotiate company paid health care for as long as possible.

  3. COBRA - The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 requires most employers to offer departing employees continued group health insurance benefits.  Brace yourself because once you move from the company's policy to COBRA coverage, you will pay 100% of the premiums plus a 2% handling fee, dramatically increasing your cost for the same level of healthcare coverage.  FYI -healthcare expense may cost less if you join another insurance carrier’s group policy. For more information, contact: US Department of Labor.

  4. Bonus - If you are eligible for a bonus, remember to request it or a lump sum payment.

  5. Company Email - Request the company to create an auto-response email message giving your new contact information for a 90-day period.

  6. Company Voicemail - Request the company to provide the same information for 6- months on voicemail so people will be able to contact you.

  7. Outplacement - Request outplacement assistance if not provided.

  8. References - Ensure your former employer will refer all calls regarding your employment to Human Resources.  In most cases, the HR department will verify the date you started and the date last employed.  You want to be able to control your references, not your former company.

  9. Stocks - If you are leaving behind unvested stock options, inquire as to length of time you will be allowed to continue vesting; if not, request an alternative form of compensation. 

Source:  allBusiness.


Things to Do Immediately


Apply for Unemployment    

It is important to apply for unemployment benefits as soon as possible to access the agencies’ job hunting resources as well as getting your personal information filed in the state’s system for other benefits you may qualify for.  Also - if for any reason your former employer disputes your claim (like my case above), it will give you time to appeal your case.  The appeal process can last several months depending on circumstances. Here is a topline view:

  • The Federal-State Unemployment Insurance Program provides unemployment benefits to eligible workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own (as determined under state law) and meet other eligibility requirements of state law.

  • Unemployment Insurance payments (benefits) are intended to provide temporary financial assistance to unemployed workers who meet requirements of State law.

  • Each state administers a separate unemployment insurance program within guidelines established by federal law.

  • Eligibility for unemployment insurance, benefits, and the length of time your benefits last are determined by state law under which unemployment insurance claims are established.

  • In the majority of states, benefit funding is based solely on a tax imposed on employers. Three states require minimal employee contributions.  Either way, it is important to get the process rolling sooner rather than later.

Source:  US Department of Labor.

Mobilize Community Services

To find employment services that may be available in your community begin by finding your local Career One-Stop Center which is sponsored by the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration. Career One-Stop Centers ( are designed to provide information at a local, state, and national level; labor markets; and workforce information; and services using online tools, videos, and maps.  Major topics covered include valuable information relative to your job search:

  1. Exploring New Careers

  2. Salaries and Benefits

  3. Resumes and Interviews

  4. Education and Training

  5. People and Places


There are over 2,700 Career One-Stop Centers offering a variety of services throughout the United States.   Career One-Stop can be named differently in different states.  For example - in my home town the local connection is called the Job Link System while in Cleveland, OH their local connection is called Employment Connection.  Follow the link above to find a locator that will pinpoint the closest center by utilizing your zip code. 

In addition, there are various levels of services offered including:

  1. Comprehensive Career One-Stop Centers - Providing a full array of employment and training related services for workers, youth, and businesses.  These locations also include staff that can help you with the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).

  2. Affiliate Career One-Stop Centers - Providing limited employment and training related services for workers, youth, and businesses.  These locations do not include all on-site agencies funded through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) (i.e., Veterans assistance or Vocational Rehabilitation).

  3. Community Colleges – Guidance to local community colleges for additional training and/or education (associate degrees, certificates, and diplomas).

  4. Employment Training - The U.S. Department of Labor provides funding for programs to move the workforce investment system in a direction that supports and advances our nation's competitiveness.

REMEMBER -- These are YOUR federal tax dollars at work, don't be afraid to use them.


Other Community Resources

Local Job Support Groups - There are many job search and networking clubs around the country that can be very supportive as well as helpful in guiding you and increasing your network. 

You can find more networking and job search support groups in your area by asking at your local public library, local churches and houses of worship (even those you do not attend), college or university career centers, and your local OneStopCareer Center.  Other community resources to consider may be your local:

  1. United Way

  2. Chamber of Commerce

  3. Council of Governments

  4. Area Universities and Colleges


Depending on the size of your community, you may need to reach out to similar organizations within a 90 mile radius of your home.


What NOT To Do and Why

  1. Do not immediately put your house up for sale - Your home is the single largest asset you own.   Be Careful:  Francis, a member of Professionals in Transition, lost her job and thought nothing of putting her house on the market while she began her job search.  Her house had one open house and it sold.  Francis was forced to move out of her home and in with her mother, living three hours away in another state. Three months later (you guessed it ), Francis got a job offer from a company less than 30 minutes from the home she had just recently sold. 

  2. Don't flame your old company regardless of how you feel no matter of how badly you

  3. have been treated.  Remember, a potential employer is looking for what you can do for them in the future.  If you kill your career karma (reputation) by blasting your old company, it will create a negative impression of you.  Take the high-road – it can pay off for you later because what goes around comes around. 

  4. Be careful what you say in public about former employees and previous employers –

  5. the person you're talking to could be a friend, golf buddy, neighbor, fellow church member or be related to a key person in your old company.  Your toxic words will get back to your old company and people tend to have “elephant-like” memories.  You have to decide on your own code of conduct and retaliation will never serve you well. 

  6. Fight the urge to send out an old resume - Take time to effectively market who you are on paper.  Know where you want to go next. Flooding the market with an old resume will only confuse companies who receive them and the people who read them.

  7. Do not send a sloppy email to anyone (regardless of how well you know them) – Many times families and friends want to help you and often in ways you cannot plan or predict. What was meant to be a personal and confidential email could easily be forwarded to a potential company, without your knowledge, by friends or family members who may not tell you because they don't want to get your hopes up.  An angry, critical, negative, sloppy, poorly constructed or misspelled email can quickly become an embarrassment and could restrict your progress going forward.

  8. Don’t spend all of your days at home applying to jobs on the Internet - Get away from your computer and into the community.  Less than 7% of all jobs come from the Internet. By that I mean: saw the position on the Internet, applied for the position online, negotiated for, and got the job = less than 7%.  This 7% plus all other jobs that are visible (13% - newspapers, trade magazines, job fairs, etc.) is where the vast majority of people job search.  80% (plus) of jobs are found through networking.

  9. Finally, do not keep your job loss and job search a secret - This is much easier to say than do.  Losing your job is embarrassing and it is human nature not to want to tell friends or neighbors because they may look at you differently - not having a job "looks bad" or "how can they possibly help, they don't work in my field.”  By keeping your job loss a secret you are starving yourself of potential networking connections and may be missing many job leads that will never appear in the paper or online.  One of my mentors Dr. Nido Qubein, President of High Point University, once told me the secret to life is to “stand tall and be proud.”  Job loss is a humbling experience and asking for help can be hard; but if you don't, you definitely won't receive the invaluable help, guidance or support critical to reemployment.  Stand tall and be proud.  Job loss is what it is and you will rise above it.  Regardless of the circumstances, you can control your career direction into the future.

How to get your job search organized

Job loss is chaotic and will become overwhelming unless you are organized.  A recent poll on found a third of job seekers consider themselves “very organized” and a quarter “extremely organized.” However, 27% of job seekers said they were only slightly organized while 13% said they were not organized at all.  Staying organized keeps you focused on your search and helps to keep track of your progress.  


A little organization can go a long way when it comes to managing the process of finding a new job.  An organized job search will be more time effective and efficient.  It will allow you to stay on top of the process and easily find critical files and contacts.  Getting organized does not have to be a complex process.  Simple ways to get organized include:

Efficient Office Space

  1. To effectively job search, you will need a dedicated space.  A separate room free of traffic is your best bet.  If that's not possible, get creative.  You may need to rearrange furniture - move a bookshelf, desk, or other large piece of furniture to divide the room - and use the quieter half as an office.  Ask family members to respect your work space and time job searching.  Close the door if you have one.

  2. Once you have established a work area, equip your “office” with materials you will need to job search.  If you plan to utilize a home phone, be sure to change your voice message to a business style (same thing with a personal cell phone – business style).  One of the quickest ways to alienate a potential job opportunity is to have a voicemail that is cute instead of professional.

  3. HR managers have told me they either hang up or question if they have called the right telephone number when they hear a “cutesy” voice response.  Be sure to be enthusiastic in your voice message to avoid sounding depressed.


Establish a Daily Routine

Your full-time job is now a full-time job.  To create job search momentum you need to be searching a minimum of five hours a day/five days a week. The working world goes on with or without you. Be sure to stay “in synch” with the business day according to its usual schedule. Even though you no longer have a schedule to follow or a boss to answer to, you must follow a daily routine and be accountable to you.  Set your alarm to insure you are “up and at it” with a defined plan of attack.  Avoid the tendency to continually stay up late and sleep in.  A daily routine creates structure and keep in synch with the working world.  It will provide comfort and allow you to work nine to five, instead of being a 24/7 job searcher.  It reinforces your daily commitment to find a job.  A regular daily routine will allow you to move forward and stay positive.



But how do you begin?  Start by reviewing your goals for the day.  Break your day into small, manageable increments or chunks of time:

  1. You might spend your first hours searching for positions.

  2. Once you have identified potential jobs, fill out job applications - one by one.

  3. From there you might follow-up with telephone calls, e-mails and other means of correspondence.  

The key is taking small steps daily gradually building momentum and eventually leading to interviews and ultimately a job. Chunking time reduces the chances you will become paralyzed or intimidated by the job search process.


Keeping a Calendar and/or Schedule

You can easily lose track of daily goals, weekly outcomes, upcoming interviews, appointments, or scheduled follow-ups with employers without the help of a calendar or day planner.  Many electronic calendars can be set to notify you a certain amount of time before an upcoming event so you can prepare in advance.  Your calendar (and reminders) can be on your computer, your phone, or a written, daily planner.  It is important to use whatever means you are most comfortable and familiar using.  



Regardless of whether you use an address book, notebook, card file, or software database, one of the most critical things is being able to find information quickly.  Now is the time to build your database of contacts.  Consider people you have worked with in the past; add individuals you may know from the community; from your health club, at school or your children’s school, at church or maybe in your volunteer activities.

Manage your contacts by knowing how you met them or who introduced you and their connecting information (address-physical and email, telephone numbers-business and mobile, company name-physical address and email).  This contact list may serve you later as a reference list when you need recommendations and/or references.


Correspondence Management

As you begin to send out cover letters and resumes for various job opportunities, you will find yourself with multiple versions of cover letters, resumes, thank-you notes  (and a Job Search Spreadsheet if you are required to track your job applications while collecting unemployment compensation) – YOU WILL GET CONFUSED.  To avoid confusion, track all your correspondence.  Organization creates a feeling of control and confidence as you begin your job search campaign.  


Create folders (on your computer) using a naming strategy that makes sense to you.  Consider generic file names such as:

  • Companies

  • Resume

  • Cover Letters

  • Thank You’s

  • Job Search Spreadsheet


Within each file, name  or identify your document(s) accordingly,  i.e.:

  • Company name – position

  • Company name – addressee’s name some identifier that will indicate how application/correspondence was made to a particular company. Your computer system will automatically date your correspondence once you have saved your document.


Always - backup your job search efforts from your computer to a separate memory stick or key fab.  Name your memory stick something identifiable (like Employment) and backup everything involved with your job search onto this memory stick.  It is easily carried with you in the event you need information relative to an application, job history, contact list, etc. 


Another option is to utilize online services like Carbonite or Google Drop Box.  These services allow you to back up your files in the “cloud”.


Organize Your E-Mail

Avoid the chance of losing critical information by creating an individual mail folder for your work search correspondence.  Within the folder, create subfolders (as needed) by company.  This way you avoid losing any email with important information as your job search process moves forward.

Job Search Record 

It is important to track and update your progress.  One of the best ways is to create a Job Search Record in Excel. (See:  Exhibit 4-1)  This information can also be setup as a table if you are more comfortable in Word.  This document allow you to stay in control of your job search and allows you to quickly keep track of all jobs you’ve applied to and where you are currently in the application process.  Record each position you’ve applied for making note of the following information:

  • Date

  • Company

  • Contact information (i.e. telephone number, email address)

  • Job Posting location (i.e. web address, newspaper, etc.)

  • Job title

  • Current Status (follow ups, results, comments, thank you notes)

  • Next Steps


As you continue your job search be sure to update your spreadsheet especially if you find or talk to a decision maker or anyone involved with a potential job.  Add columns to reflect specific information (i.e. follow-up dates, interview dates, thank you notes sent, etc.).


Increase your focus on active job leads by crossing out jobs (or cut and paste to another spreadsheet entitled “Inactive”) positions when you learn they have been either filled or you are no longer being considered for the position.  By continuing to update this form you will remain on task instead of wasting time on positions already filled.  It is important to remember that employers can take weeks and sometimes months getting back to you so allow time for several attempts in contacting them before crossing that potential job off your list.


Another benefit your spreadsheet will reveal is potential industry hiring trends. Your records will reveal valuable information such as how long it typically takes specific employers to respond.  If you know you’re searching for work in an industry that typically offers employment two months after the original application, you’ll have a greater ability to estimate the length of time it will take for a company to complete the hiring process - whether you should continue pursuing this position or move on to another. 


Tracking your applications will also show you who is responding and if certain types of employers are more receptive to your resume than others. For instance, you may notice a trend that large corporations do not respond to your resume. This might be a sign that your resume is not standing out to that type of employer.


Job Search – Expenses

A computer and printer are critical job search tools.  If you do not have a computer or printer you may be able to purchase one and use the expense as a tax deduction in your job search.  


In addition - office supplies (including computer ink and paper), internet service, mobile phone expense (if this is your sole source of communication), newspaper subscriptions, trade journals, self-help books, professional resume writing services, career counseling, schooling, memberships, travel time and mileage (documented and receipt supported) to and from job interviews and/or schooling, along with anything else used to search for a job or assist you in getting a job may be considered tax deductible.  This also applies to the clothes you may need for a job interview.


Be sure to consult the Internal Revenue Service for current deductions or consult with your tax planner for further guidance.

How to rebuild your professional identity

Your income, future, lifestyle, and security have been yanked out by your former company without plan or your permission.  Regardless of your age or life experience, job elimination forces you to involuntarily give up the professional identity, reputation, and the work life you have achieved.  This sudden change makes hiding your emotions almost impossible and reluctantly forces you to adjust to a new way of living.


Rebuilding your identity (both professional and personal) is about returning to a state of equilibrium.  This is accomplished by reconstructing a new self-image, a new lifestyle, and even a new professional uniqueness.  Abandoning what previously defined your professional life can be agonizing.  By not letting go and embracing the future, potential opportunities may be passing you by.  Gradually, as you accept the present situation, you will begin to feel a new anticipation and excitement toward the future. 


Job loss can easily be viewed as a personal attack on your expertise, knowledge, abilities, and level of contribution.  Today’s workforce centers on working in teams.  Now that you no longer have a company or team to work for, it is common to feel left behind, betrayed, and disappointed.  You built strong relationships with the people on your team and developed further support across a broad circle of work acquaintances.  Sharing that camaraderie with former workmates will soon come to an end because you are now considered an “outsider” looking in.  You quickly find out who your true friends are and who your work acquaintances were.


Your job search experience is unique to yourself – your needs, experiences, and insights are unlike those of others, and are exclusive in their own way. Steps to rebuilding your personal identity include:


Understanding the Control You Had Over Your Job Loss

In most cases you probably had absolutely no control over your job being eliminated. Sometimes (particularly if you had a personality conflict with your boss), you may have been a contributing factor to your job loss.  Regardless of the reasons for your job loss, reestablishing personal control is the first step toward marketing yourself – preparing yourself mentally and moving forward. The next step is to recognize you have control over what happens to you next.


Take control of life by maintaining your daily routine (noted above).  Establishing and maintaining a daily routine provides structure and predictability.  It provides stability because you know every day you're doing everything you possibly can do to find a job.  It allows you to take control of your life and actions.


Your daily commitment to following the job search process will create momentum toward gaining that next job opportunity.  Each day will acknowledge and reinforce your full time job is finding a full time job.  Job searching eight hours a day sounds like a lot of time, but that time should include attendance at networking events, community events, volunteering, along with attending a support group(s).  Eight hours of concentrated work allows you to end each day feeling good about your efforts and allows you to transition from job searching to your regular role of partner, parent, or any other role you might have. 

Going Easy on Yourself

            It's natural to beat yourself up for what happened with your job loss.  The guilt and shame can be overwhelming.  Respect the fact that you are in your most vulnerable and weakest state as a result of losing your job.  Understand, instead, that you are a strong individual and will recuperate over time.

Be prepared for the endless thoughts and questions that pour into mind about your past and present circumstances.  Understand that you may be temporarily overwhelmed when thinking about your future.  When it comes to job loss - it is what it is.  No matter how difficult it is, the only way out is by taking back control of your thoughts.  Earl Nightingale once said “We become what we think about.” and that “attitude is everything.”



Preserving Your Weekends

Avoid becoming a 24/7 job searcher. Instead, walk away from your computer and into the weekend without guilt. Consider maintaining your regular weekend routine. Go ahead…mow the lawn, putter around your garden, do other small projects, hobbies, or anything else that may have brought weekend gratification to you.


Will you miss potentially good jobs if you take weekends off?  No…In most cases, job opportunities are listed for at least 6 days.  Here’s why… If you have been diligent to your job search routine, you have covered all jobs (on the Internet) that have appeared throughout the week.  On Monday (with your first initial swoop of the day), you will pick up any job positions that may have been posted over the weekend. 

Allowing 48 to 72 hours down time provides the needed time to decompress and relax.  


The free time allows you to clear your mind, enjoy your family and friends, and spend time on hobbies or enjoying Mother Nature.  Go to your church of faith - nourish your soul.  New surroundings offer a different group of people to socialize and/or network with.  (See:  Chapter 18 – Social Networking)  On Monday morning you will emerge refreshed and ready to go to work again - job searching.

Coordinate and Align Your Thoughts

As you begin to move forward and start to process your job loss, be open to new experiences.  Now is the time to explore your dreams and think outside of the box.  Moving on is difficult because you are leaving behind a comfortable old professional identity and starting a new you.


Moving forward you will need to channel your thoughts, feelings, and actions together into a positive attitude.  You have to believe in yourself before others will believe in you.  If you don’t believe in yourself, you will have a difficult time finding the momentum to feel motivated to creating a new you.  You must gather the strength from within to be positive.  Being positive through the job search process is crucial because no employer wants to hire a negative employee.  Staying positive, however, is easier said than done, because job searching is a long and lonely process.  You will experience many more low points of no luck, no interviews, and no prospects. There will be high points of hope centered on what appears to be plenty of job opportunities.  During the low points of your job search you may question yourself; and your self-esteem will waiver.  So thinking positively, no matter how difficult things may be, is a critical attribute you need to keep in the forefront of your persona.


How to Improve Your Attitude

To improve your attitude you might consider listening to motivational specialists including Earl Nightingale, Zig Ziglar, Dale Carnegie, Tony Robbins, Nido Quebein, and Napoleon Hill.  You can listen to them (and many others) before you purchase their work at  These classic experts provide guidance in terms of making genuine changes in the way you look at the world and at your job search. They offer help, encouragement, and hope during the long and solitary days of job searching.  These various CDs were very helpful to me over the several periods of time I was out of work.  Their perspectives were each a little different, but their messages and beliefs provided comfort, direction, and perspective. 


Managing Ongoing Stress

There is a high probability that you will experience overwhelming amounts of stress.  It is important to review what stress does and does not do:

  • Stress DOES erode your perception of the situation at hand.

  • Stress DOES contribute to feelings of helplessness and lack of control.

  • Stress DOES contribute to feelings of self-pity regarding job loss.

  • Stress DOES NOT improve your chances of getting a new job, mastering new skills, or getting out of a rut.

  • Stress DOES NOT help you maintain existing relationships that are impacted by the loss of your job including friends, family, and others that depend on you.



The Impact of Shame

Are you ashamed of losing your job? To move beyond the shame, it is important to remember that millions of people have been unemployed before you and probably felt the same way you do. Amy Eldridgr, Ph.D. and Virginia K. Gordon, L.C.S.W., in provide the following advice dealing with shame:

  • To what degree is personal shame interfering with your search efforts? Ask yourself how comfortable you are discussing your termination with fellow employees, family, and friends. Your actions will reveal the extent of your discomfort and how it may interfere with a job search. Do you lower your eyes, head, or voice?  Does your face flush? If this response persists, increases or causes you to avoid others, you likely need to deal with your feelings of shame. Other behaviors and emotions, such as withdrawal, anger, and shyness, also may signal that shameful feelings from childhood have resurfaced.

  • Decide if internalized shame-laden (long forgotten) messages from childhood are suddenly bubbling up.  This is very a very common experience.  To move ahead, you must face and resolve any subconscious issues you may have buried (“ashamed of”).

  • Separate who you are from what you do. Your behaviors and thoughts, as well as events, don't dictate your inherent value. 

  • If you have a shame-induced thought, counter it with a more rational, positive thought about yourself.  If the shame-induced thought happened in the past, ask for forgiveness-let go of the thought- and then forgive yourself- so that you can move on.

  • Discuss your feelings with someone you trust. Verbalizing and sharing feelings puts them into perspective.  Sharing difficult issues with a friend avoids distorted thinking and more shame.

  • Don’t allow bad thoughts and feelings to fit into your present life; to interfere with your job search or the success that can follow.

  • Work towards changing your attitude towards shame (and remember that this is one of the many experiences in your life that you have to learn from).  Try to be more active or simply partake in activities that brought you joy before you experienced this sudden life changing event.

  •  Reaffirm your personal value through volunteer work.

Maintain Professional Relationships

Job loss can crush professional relationships. It can also be confusing as whether you should try to stay in touch with former colleagues.  It is common to wonder if staying in touch with them is even appropriate.  You may find that when you try to contact them at work, the conversations are awkward.  If they seem uncomfortable when they return your call, ask them if there is a better time or alternative phone number you can call them. This is the work acquaintances vs. a true friend indicator test.  If they encourage you to call back at better time or provide an alternative number to call, they have passed the test. If your calls go unreturned or if they don't provide an alternative time or number, they just flunked the test. Sadly, in many cases the people you think are most likely to pass, flunk. Those who flunk your test may make you feel like you have the unemployment plague.


The truth is that transitions are a natural part of life.  Understand these are life events and we all go through them.  However, life events feel different to everyone.  You must not hide from this involuntary, and often untimely, change.  Instead of avoiding people, reach out to them. They may be afraid to contact you because they don’t know what to say.  Accept their words of empathy and support.  Let them know that you may need their help in the future.


Nourish your social contacts. You might consider hosting a pot luck dinner to bring your friends and supporters around.  Promise that nothing about work will be discussed.  This will help you minimize the sense of loss and will minimize everyone’s stress levels.  Or as mentioned earlier, consider volunteering.  Not only will you realize that you have much more to give than what the job loss took, you will meet interesting people who may be able to help you network.

Give Yourself Plenty of Time

Rebuilding your personal and professional identities takes time.  Rushing prematurely into new activities, experiences, and even jobs may only encourage the repetition of old habits and feelings.  Instead –

  • Slow down

  • Tackle your “to do” list

  • Work on hobbies or other tasks that bring you happiness and helps to create a feeling of confidence

All of these activities will allow you to feel productive and provide comfort while you manage job transition and changes brought about because of unemployment.

Indulge yourself during this transition, and find the support you need (including, if appropriate, seeking a professional therapist who can provide you with guidance and support through your transition). Do not escape or avoid your situation, but continue to face it and challenge it.  Challenge yourself.  Most importantly trust yourself because you will overcome unemployment and then begin the next life transition into a new job.

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