• Janeen Shaffer, PCC

How to help yourself when you've lost your job

I have been talking with leaders who have found themselves without a job due to the impacts of COVID. They are very capable, innovative, and valuable leaders in their organization. When you have been laid off, you may find yourself closing a work chapter in a completely unfulfilling way. The experience represents little of your journey with the organization and the contributions and sacrifices you made during your tenure. I can share with you that the sting, disappointment, and disorientation does pass.


Many people have walked in the same shoes as you ... they are good souls, smart people, have made a positive impact, are strategic in what they see as possibilities for the business, and are respectful and honorable in how they treat others. When these individuals must leave, there is a loss for the organization. There are insights you can learn without being critical of yourself, and there are actions you can take to help move in a direction of healing the loss and finding another organization where you can thrive.


Take the insights with you, not the pain: When looking back on a situation with some time and space, there may be insights that can help you moving forward. Perhaps you want to advocate more for yourself or have a diverse group of sponsors, perhaps you don’t want to give so much of yourself to work, or perhaps it is time to allow yourself to stretch with a new role in a way your previous organization did not allow. These insights are not about criticizing yourself in a way where you feel worse. Instead, these insights are about what you want to create for yourself in your next role that serves you better than in the past.


Remember you are not alone. There are many people who share the same experience. If there is any good news about the 2008 financial crisis as well as with COVID, there are very good, capable people without jobs due to unforeseen situations and this has lessened the stigma around being laid off. Employers who are hiring understand that there are people in the job market who were impacted by major market crises and are reputable individuals who could be valuable to bring onboard. What can you say when hiring teams ask, “Why are you looking for a job?” One response can be, “The organization saw impacts to their business due to COVID and our division experienced major reductions in staff.”


Use your support group. The job search can take a toll on your confidence. One example is that you will get more “no’s” than “yes, here is an offer” when you are searching for a job. Also, the timing of finding a job can feel brutally slow even though you may be doing all the “right” actions. Use your trusted network of friends, family, and allies to help remind you that you have strengths and skills that are attractive to other employers, that bumps are expected on this path, and that an opportunity will happen. The process of finding a new role takes time and often happens at a different pace than what you expect, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t going to happen. Often, people will come back to me and say “I’m so glad I didn’t get that job offer, because the job I have now is the one that is best for me.”


Put an action plan together for finding your next role. It’s helpful to create actions that direct your focus, attention and energy. You don’t have to look for a job 8-hours a day. It is more beneficial to map out actions you want to take for yourself each week and work towards those actions daily. An example of daily actions include reviewing your LinkedIn contacts and reaching out to individuals who work in organizations of interest to you, going to the career section on a desired company’s website, researching the alumni group of your university to see if they are hosting online networking events, practicing responses to typical interview questions, and applying to jobs online. There are resources to help you – themuse.com provides daily information on resumes/interviews/networking tips, and Dr. Dawn Graham offers career and job search advice on LinkedIn and hosts a SiriusXM Wharton Business School show on Thursdays at noon (Channel 132). Also, a career coach can be a great resource to help you finalize your resume and LinkedIn profile, get you prepared for networking conversations and interviews, and help you gauge what roles would be best for you in the current market.


Remember that you offer gifts to the world and the positive ripple effects you have created in your professional career mean something. None of us are shielded from challenging events in our lives, and your courage, confidence, and wisdom can help you cope with this situation. The best way to release a challenging situation is coming out on the other side with a stronger belief in yourself and your purpose. The way you work to solve hard issues, the way you care and love those around you, the way you inject humor and perspective into the day, the way you push through something tough and honor what is important to you - these (and many more) gifts are what you bring to the world. You do not honor yourself by letting these gifts be dulled. Own these gifts, take care of yourself and know that you are not alone in walking this path. Doors will open up for you and your heart and soul will continue to sing at the top of the mountain.


Janeen Shaffer is a PCC certified coach helping individuals and leaders with their internal development and external performance. If the article resonated with you … follow me on LinkedIn, or contact me at janeen@shaffercoach.com, www.shaffercoach.com, IG @janeen.shaffer, Pinterest Shaffer Coaching + Consulting.

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