Job Loss


Pink slip blues

As more and more corporations restructure, downsize, and streamline their operations, employees are getting pink slips and experiencing the blues. Actors know what it is like to be out of work, and they can tell you job loss is no laughing matter. Here's how Joe Pesci describes his feelings while searching for roles, "I couldn't get any jobs, and when that happens, you get so humble it's disgusting. I didn't feel like a man anymore - I felt really creepy. I was bumping into walls and saying, 'Excuse me.'"

The pain of job loss depends on one's past experiences, age, financial obligations, and other factors. But for some, it strikes terror in their minds and hearts. After all, it can be the fourth most traumatic event a person can experience, surpassed only by the death of one's spouse or child, the discovery that one has a terminal illness, or a bitter divorce. Often, a pink slip signals more than the loss of one's job, for it may be accompanied by loss of confidence, loss of one's identity, and the shock of learning one is dispensable.

If the rug is suddenly pulled out from under you and you find yourself jobless, the first thing to do is expect the pain. If you are kicked in the shins, know the pain will linger, but also realize it will subside and eventually disappear altogether. It is no different with the pain of job loss. So, expect it and accept it. But don't use it as an excuse to grow lethargic, feel helpless, or sink into despair. For brooding will only intensify and extend the suffering. Don't wait for the pain to leave before you start taking action. The sooner you get on with life, the sooner confidence and a sense of well being will return.

Also, don't let anger consume you. Allowing it to fester will cloud your thinking and hamper your chances of success, for who wants to hire an angry person? Besides, why would you be angry at your former employer? They are not villains, but victims of the times. They are squeezed by consumers demanding lower prices, competitors trying to put them out of business, and investors insisting on higher profits.

Don't lose faith in yourself. Remember, your job loss is a reflection of the times, not an indication of your lack of value. If an Olympic athlete fails to win a medal by a hundredth of a second, would he or she be a 'loser?' Of course not. When you enter the job market, you are entering a competition. In any competition, some will be squeezed out of the winners circle. Learn from it, move on, and better luck next time.

After the introduction of the first automobile, most horse carriage manufacturers laughed at the strange, new contraption, never expecting it to succeed. Their lack of imagination led to their demise. However, a small number of them had the vision to understand that they were not in the horse carriage business, but in the transportation business. So, they adapted to the times and flourished. The most enlightened of all, however, realize that they are not in the transportation business, but merely in business. So, if the business they're currently in flounders, they quickly adapt and move on to the next promising business.

What has this got to do with you? Well, if you're searching for a job, don't define yourself too narrowly. Broaden your scope; enlarge your vision. If you define yourself as a teacher, all you will look for are teaching positions, which may or may not be available. But if you define yourself as an educator, you open yourself up to other opportunities such as seminar leader, sales rep, and financial advisor. Moreover, if you define yourself as broadly as possible, you open yourself to virtually ANY opportunity.

The fact is, you can be happy and find great success in almost any field. You don't have to limit yourself. As long as you exude a willingness to cheerfully work with others, a determination to always do your best, and a policy of always doing more than expected, you are bound to succeed in your job hunt, for these are the characteristics that are in great need in the marketplace. You see, the workforce needs people who are willing to work harder on themselves than on their job. Developing the right attitude cannot guarantee long-term employment, but it can and does guarantee long-term employability. Remember, after rejoining the workforce, your responsibility is not to set things right, but to see things right.

Beware of some of the traps that the newly unemployed may fall into. Unemployment is neither a vacation nor a time to conduct a pity party. Just sitting around collecting government benefits robs people of initiative and delays their opportunity to develop coping skills. Unemployment doesn't mean being without a job. On the contrary, it is the most important job of one's career; which is looking for another job. You should spend forty hours a week on your job search. This will help you to maintain discipline, lead as normal a life as possible, and hasten your success.

If it were your friend who lost their job, instead of you, you would be supportive, encouraging, and respectful. Don't make the mistake of treating others better than you treat yourself. You wouldn't berate your friend, so don't do it to yourself. Treat yourself as your own best friend. Be gentle. Be firm, yet kind. Inspire and motivate yourself to overcome this obstacle and become bigger and stronger because of it. Also, don't neglect your health as it has a direct impact on your feelings and mental capabilities. An exercise program will help release stress, restore confidence, and make you look and feel fit.

Since 80 ~ 90% of the available jobs are unadvertised, you will have to broaden your search. Newspapers are no longer enough. Work on networking, letting all your contacts know you are available. Cold calls are also a hot way to proceed. Speak to the head of the department you are interested in working for, as well as the HR department. Call them and ask for permission to hand deliver your resume, as a meeting with a living, breathing human is far more effective than a lifeless piece of paper (your resume) sitting in a filing cabinet. Other steps to take include visiting agencies and recruiters, checking trade journals for help wanted ads, and attending trade shows in search of opportunities.

An article this brief can only awaken an interest to learn more. If you are among the unemployed, go the library or bookstore without delay, get a good book, and apply everything you learn. Also, join a support group to pick up some more tips, get help, and make new friends and contacts. Finally, the Internet is a great resource for learning how to cope with job loss and for discovering employment opportunities. One final thought, if you improve yourself, you improve your chances, and if you better yourself, won't you get a better job? If this applies to you, I wish you great success in your new venture.

© Chuck Gallozzi
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