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Coping with Job Loss

Job hunting is a process fraught with stress, rejection, and tedious legwork, according to Richard Bayer, chief operating officer of The Five O’ Clock Club, a premier career coaching network. “But with a smart strategy for handling your finances, managing your time, and executing your search, you can turn what could be a full-on disaster into merely a bump in the road.” The following are Bayer’s tips to help survive (and even thrive) after a pink slip has been issued:

Don’t take it personally. Layoffs are usually the result of budget cuts and lack of business – and not the direct result of poor performance. Regardless if you are the company’s most recent hire, or if your department is being cut all together, your position can be in jeopardy regardless of how well you’ve done your job. You’re being laid off because your employer is having trouble in a tough economy – which doesn’t mean that you can’t still be a valuable employee to someone else.

Make finding a new job your “job.” If you are used to being in the office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, it can be daunting to suddenly have all this unscheduled time on your hands. Job hunters need to maintain structure and some sort of day-to-day routine. A great way to do this is by using your old work hours to focus on your job search. Join professional organizations, schedule interviews, and network as much as possible. An unemployed person should spend at least 40 hours a week on his or her job search.

Manage your money responsibly. Regardless of whether you receive severance pay, the way you manage your money immediately after being laid off will determine your worry level. If a cash settlement is part of your severance package, you might be tempted to maintain your current living status while you look for a new job. However, that money can disappear quickly — especially if you are left to pay for your own benefits. Most people are surprised how long it can take to find a new job. Create a budget so that you can see how long you can live off of your severance pay. If you didn’t receive any severance money, you’ll still want to create a post-job budget as soon as possible. Examine how much money you have, which bills are coming due, and what expenses you won’t be able to cut. Make sure you can pay your critical bills — mortgage, car payment, etc. — and don’t spend money on anything extra. You may have to cancel an upcoming vacation or get rid of your cable TV, but you will be glad in six month’s time that you didn’t rack up credit card debt and that your savings is still intact.

Expand your job search. Just because you worked for a large corporation in a large city doesn’t mean that’s the only type of job you are qualified to do. If you are searching only in Boston, for example, think of looking outside the city or even in a different state. Or if you are looking only at large public corporations, consider small or private companies. Personal talents can lend themselves to a variety of different job titles — you just have to be open to them. Looking for a job outside your comfort zone can lead to unexpected opportunities.

Don’t be afraid to be picky. When the bills keep rolling in and paychecks have stopped, it can be easy to panic and take the first job that’s offered. Hold your ground and don’t settle for a job that’ll leave you miserable over the long haul. However, if cash is needed now, be willing to accept a temporary position that’ll give you a steady paycheck to hold you over until a better job comes along.

Start your own business. Are you a prolific writer or a graphics guru? Use your business savvy to start freelancing while you’re searching for a new job. It can provide a cushion of income in between jobs and maybe even continue to supplement you once you’ve landed a new gig. Even better, the business will keep your skills sharp and provide great references for your résumé. It will show a potential employer that you are motivated and that your skills are desirable.

Think of a layoff as an opportunity to improve yourself and to make a fresh start.

More Secrets for Surviving Job Loss:

Keep your spirits up. An alarming number of job hunters are becoming discouraged and dropping out of the job market. Remember that many people are going through what you are. A great way to get advice on how to handle being out of a job is to join a job-hunting group to get support, ideas, and contacts.


Develop new skills. If you suspect your old skills are out-of-date, take time to develop new ones. If you’re being told you aren’t being hired because you don’t have the right experience, get the experience. Depending on your area of expertise, there are lots of great ways to hone and expand your skills. Take a class. Do volunteer work. The point is to do something.

Become a skilled job hunter. Good job hunters know what they want, what the market wants, and how to present themselves. Having a well-written résumé and cover letter are key to being competitive. A poorly crafted résumé or cover letter can prevent you from getting your foot in the door, particularly in an economy that is flooded with people looking for work. If you don’t think that your résumé and cover letter are up to par, find someone to help you write them — and/or consult a book.

Source: Brown Bagger 2009.  Dr. Richard Bayer, COO of the Five O’ Clock Club and author of “The Good Person Guidebook: Transforming Your Personal Life”, Five O’ Clock Books, 2008.

For more information or to discuss concerns about job loss please contact Partners Employee Assistance Program at 1-866-724-4EAP.

In case of emergency, please call 911 or your local hospital emergency service.


This content was last modified on: 03/20/2017

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