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Dealing Positively With The Loss of a Job
If you are still employed but know you will be separated in the near future, please keep the following guidelines in mind when you leave your current employer:
Leave graciously. Your behavior and attitude can "make" your reputation. Even if you feel angry, try not to show it, and do not show dissension.
Do not make the individual who separates you feel guilty. Do you really know he or she was part of the decision? Additionally, he or she may be a future source for a reference or recommendation.
Get specific information on severance (amount, duration, conditions), benefit continuation, bonuses, profit sharing, etc. Find out who to call in the future if you have additional questions.
Try to assure an orderly transition. Leaving your work in good order attests to your sense of responsibility.
If possible, take along the business cards of your colleagues outside the company that you have collected over the years and your telephone-address book. These may be utilized to network in your job campaign.
Leave the impression with your former colleagues that you are confident about the future. Do not feel sorry for yourself or ask co-workers to feel that way. They are more likely to retain positive memories of you. Final words, actions, and attitudes are usually what are remembered and what you want passed on.
Do not take a vacation "to think things over." You probably cannot afford it, and the sooner you start looking for another job, the sooner you will find one.
When discussing your separation with the family, keep in mind the following guidelines:
Be honest. Showing and sharing your concern about your search for a new position is not a sign of weakness. Rather, it indicates you recognize that your family can pull together as a team during a difficult time. Your confidence in your family will help reinforce their confidence in you.
Your spouse can help reduce pressures on you if you communicate with each other.
Your spouse or children can cover your telephone at home if you are unable to take calls at the office or if you are out. Impress upon them the importance of taking accurate messages. This topic is covered in detail in "Dialing for Dollars".
Your spouse is probably a valuable source of advice for reducing expenses during your search period. Discuss controlling household operating expenses during your job search period.
Discuss the progress of your search with your family.
Explore the implications of possible relocation. If the children are old enough, include them. A job search can be a positive instructive experience for children if their security is not threatened. If moving from the community and school are likely, let the children in on these matters. Do not drop a bombshell on them. If you anticipate moving to take advantage of an opportunity, your children are more likely to reflect your attitude if you share your excitement with them. They can sense your feelings anyhow, so talk about them. Remind the children they can visit old friends during vacations and holidays. Carry through on your intentions (for further assistance on the costs of relocation, please refer to "Hidden Costs Associated with Relocation").
Spending a great deal of time on your job search may not leave you time for such things as lawn mowing, major repairs, or projects around the house. Ignore these tasks until the weekend, or assign them to another member of the family.
Your spouse and older children can help you do research on prospective employers, etc., at the local library. Or, they can be messengers, bringing books from the library, for example.
If someone in your family can type, they can help send letters to prospective employers.
Members of the family can look up out-of-town names and addresses (of employment agencies, recruiters, companies, etc.) in directories at the main office of your local telephone company.
Tell your family who you have contacted, and still plan to contact, so they can act intelligently if they receive a telephone call from one of your prospects.
All of us have patterns in our lives. We follow routines during most days and have a certain satisfaction in the regularity of these patterns. When something happens to disrupt one of these major patterns, such as our work activities, it can be a challenging time for us. Any serious loss or unwelcome change in life patterns can trigger unhappiness and sad feelings. Change, however, can be challenging and can provide the opportunity to expand our horizons.
It is not uncommon for persons who face the challenge of a search for a new position to experience strong emotions. For many, coping with job loss is much like coping with the loss of a loved one. One may have to go through a similar process of grieving. The severity of the loss experienced will depend on the degree to which the person's identity has been tied to his or her job. People with other outlets that give them a strong sense of persona will weather the loss somewhat better. Finding healthy ways to deal with the pain of the loss can be immensely helpful.
Utilize your support network. It will be important to maintain a positive attitude as you progress through the campaign to locate a new position. It is often helpful to have the family or other loved ones actively involved. Those closest to us can offer emotional support that involves understanding, patience, affection and encouragement. Suggestions are made as to how your family and loved ones can play an active, practical role in your campaign.
Publications that may be helpful as you face the emotional challenge of the rigors of a search for a new position are Feeling Good by David Burns, M.D. and Pathfinders by Gail Sheehy. Each of these publications is available in paperback at many bookstores. In addition, you will very likely find copies at your local public library.
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