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Recently lost your job and feeling depressed? Explore how to deal with losing your job and how to find a better new beginning that is fulfilling.

How to Cope with Losing your Job

By Catherine Adenle

Learning how to deal with losing your job is important because no job is for life anymore. The days are long gone when you start working for a company; you grow with the company and retire there. These days, competition, innovation, outsourcing, mergers and globalization have changed the job landscape and certainty.

Job loss and unemployment can hit anyone hard. However, knowing how to deal with losing your job and the emotions that come with job loss is the key to getting out of the feeling of low self-worth.

It’s proven that when people lose their jobs, they also feel as if they’ve lost a significant component of their identity. Out goes their daily routines and financial security, incomes boredom and lack of income. Job loss and unemployment topple people’s feelings of loss of control, self-worth, security and personal comfort.

Note that it’s common to panic, feel shocked, be in denial, and be fearful and angry. First, you will feel shocked that this has happened to you especially if you are a conscientious and loyal employee. Then, you will be in denial and you will start to panic and get fearful about your financial situation and angry at your employer and at yourself.

Before we explore how to deal with losing your job, first let’s discuss why you panic and why you get angry.

Why you panic

To you, a great employee who has put in several years and added value to an organization, your job loss conveys lack of appreciation. This makes you angry. Losing your job tells you that your sense of who you are has now changed. Your daily routine, your career pride and your sense of importance have been taken away from you. Yesterday, two days ago or last week, you had a great job title that helped define your place in the world and amongst your friends, but today, that’s all gone. The loss of your self-esteem leads to a feeling of despair and worthlessness.  You panic because you are concerned about what lack of pay will do to your financial capabilities. Feeding, living day to day and paying your bills will be difficult. The truth is, if you do not manage these feelings, they will end up making you feel depressed and this will affect your personal life as well as your ability to find a new job.

Signs that you feel depressed after a job loss

Only when you know the signs of feeling depressed after a job loss can you manage your feelings.

  • You constantly don’t feel like doing anything
  • You cannot sleep in the night because you worry and you wake up tired the next morning
  • You cannot eat well, you struggle with the loss of appetite
  • You are irritable and fly off the handle for little things
  • You suffer from panic and anxiety for no reason
  • You feel guilty for losing your job and you cannot shake the feeling off
  • You feel hopeless and not worthy
  • You don’t want to apply for another job because of irrational reasons
  • You lose focus and find it difficult to concentrate on anything
  • Feeling no one likes you because you are not earning
  • Loss of self-worth as a parent or spouse
  • Lack of motivation for life generally

If you feel any of the above, it may be time for you to seek professional help. Your doctor may refer you to a therapist that can help you with tools, tips and resources to get you out of the funk.

Meanwhile you there are things you could do immediately to stem the feeling of depression

How to stem being anxious and feeling depressed after a job loss

  • Talk to a trusted friend or family member about what you’re going through. Confide in them as they may be able to help you.
  • Speak to your professional mentor, if you don’t have one, it may be time to find one.
  • Write about your feelings in your journal. Get a journal and express everything you feel about being made redundant at work including things you wish you had done or said at the time you were told of the situation.
  • Accept that this is the reality for you and add your plans for a new beginning.
  • Don’t wallow in self-pity or beat yourself up, nothing good will come out of such fruitless endeavours.
  • Look for the new beginning or silver lining.

See Depression – What Can I Do to Help Myself

10 Positive steps of how to deal with losing your job

You can take these 10 positive steps to improve your situation and outlook.  No one else can do these things but you.

1. Know what you can control and what you cannot control: To deal with losing your job, it is vital that you do not waste your time dealing with what is beyond your control as there’s no return on your time investment for anything beyond your control. However, concentrate on what you can control which is finding a fulfilling ‘new beginning’ for you.  Things may currently feel rotten right now, but bear in mind that you’ve lost a job, not your life or skills! As long as you are breathing and alive, there are plenty of opportunities to get another job or even start your own business.

Remember, unless you are pushed, you will never find out about what is behind a fence!  Your monthly payment may be no more, but what the organizers say in you in the first place before employing you hasn’t disappeared.

2. Don’t take it personally:  Thousands of people lose their jobs monthly, so never take losing your job personally. It happens to the best employees because of drastic cost-cutting, organizations looking to stay afloat, outsourcing or mergers. Being let go can deplete your confidence, but try not to view this as a failure on your part or as a rejection of yourself and all that you have offered or could have offered to add value as a loyal employee.

The best way to look at your situation is that you should think of the organization as your own business if you have toiled and worked for years to build a reputable business and there’s an economic downturn which means you have to fold up or let some employees go so that you can cut costs and continue to do business, which decision would you make?  One of the best ways to deal with losing your job is to not take things personally as it will affect your progress because potential employers can spot negativity from a mile away.

3. Relax and gather your thoughts: Instead of slouching around and mopping, turn your unease into energy and use it to build a fresh start. Go for walks, hear the birds sing, relax and take a deep breath. Calm down and don’t make any rash decisions like bad-mouthing everyone and your organization. Use your time and energy to plan and network.

4. WOM (Word of Mouth) and networking will do you a world of good: The best way to deal with losing your job is to tell people that you are looking for a new job. Craft a great short elevator speech that’s intended to prepare you for very brief, chance encounters in an elevator.  Don’t take this literally – an elevator speech is not just for elevators! It’s for everywhere. It is a speech that you should use whenever you want to introduce yourself to a new contact. You never know when the opportunity will come knocking. You never know who you’ll run into at the Supermarket, your local café, in the line at a bookshop, in a party or in an elevator. It is important that you prepare a succinct but highly memorable speech.

Networking opportunities are everywhere, take an advantage. Talking to or contacting people you know to find job leads is the most effective way to find a job. Most people find a job through personal contacts. People we already know such as our friends and family, our former colleagues and people we meet when we go out and during our normal everyday lives. Don’t forget that personal contacts are also the people who our friends and family know. Only a small percentage of jobs are advertised in local newspapers and only a small percentage of people who find a job get one from answering an advertisement in a local newspaper.

Are you on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook? These Social Network sites and the Internet, in general, are powerful and they can help you to get back to work fast. Spruce up your profiles on the sites and make them look more professional. If you are not using any of these freely available networking tools yet, this is the time to start using them. The web gives you the opportunity to promote yourself and your skills. It provides multiple formats, platforms and tools to allow you to tell the world about ‘YOU’. Be visible online especially on LinkedIn, connect with and follow industry thought leaders, but be professional at all times.

See Why LinkedIn Rocks!

5. Jazz up your CV and make job searching your day job: The most productive way to deal with losing your job is to search for a better job. When you are searching for a job, your current role is that of a ‘job search manager’, so searching for a job is your job! Don’t take your jobless period as the period to roll out of bed at 1 pm, potter around the house in your pyjamas while you vegetate and watch day time TV. Don’t get sucked into the ‘I have no choice’ talk phase.   You have to dust yourself off and set your own agenda. You have to see yourself as someone whose work is to find a job.

See How to Write a Winning CV

Be your own “boss” and be self-disciplined. If you are not networking physically, then begin your workday at 9 am sharp every working day. Take an hour for lunch, and give yourself a couple of breaks during the day. Plan your work by covering all the steps in your job search.  First, develop an overall plan listing all of the steps involved in your job search. Under each step, list the actions needed to finish that step. Then, access your skills and research on the job market. Next, develop your CV and learn how to write an effective cover letter. Finally, learn how to perfect your pitch and how to ace job interviews.

6. Manage the expectations of your utility bill suppliers: For your own peace of mind, if your company offers a severance package, find out if there are any penalties for withdrawing from your retirement account and whether you’re eligible for unemployment benefits. You can find out by contacting your local unemployment office. Once you have all the information you need, you can then call up your utility bills’ companies. Resist splashing out on anything until you have a steady income.

Don’t spend your savings on anything that you do not need to survive. Let everything you buy for pleasure to wait until you can afford them. Make your own coffee instead of going to Starbucks. Inform all your creditors and utility suppliers of your situation and put a plan in place.  To help with your situation, get a transitional or temporary job that can cover your essential bills. Give yourself some real-time to figure out your next step. Learn to get out of the house, visit friends,  go for a walk, volunteer for a charity and spend some time with others if you are not working to reduce the time you spend thinking of the job you lost. This also helps with the reduction of your electricity, water and heating bills’ costs.

7. Repackage your brand: This is vital to how you deal with losing your job. You might want to spend some time revitalizing your image. What do you want to be known for and how do you want to present yourself? Carve a niche in your field for yourself and read up on it so that you are well informed and knowledgeable. There is nothing that promotes confidence like knowledge. Physically, you can experiment with that new hairstyle you have been thinking about. Ensure that you have just the right outfit for a job interview.

Do whatever will make you look good and feel good about yourself. It is important that you package yourself like a professional. A polished physical appearance, an effective CV, a solid covering letter and professional attire do matter! You need to sprinkle some stardust on your candidacy packaging. Flicker with the right brand as a subject matter expert and with confidence aimed at the right audience; then look chilled and not frazzled,  gaze at how someone is bound to scoop you up right into your dream job.

8. Put a positive spin on things: Don’t get disgruntled if you are still looking for a job and it seems like everyone you know has an offer. Most experienced job seekers often search for months before finding the right opportunity. You have to unplug yourself from negativity and create positivity to improve your job search.

Focus on what can be instead of the obstacles, create a new opportunity in your mind and work towards it. Remember that job hunting takes time and energy. So it is important to become a Superstar Job Seeker, remain confident, cool and collected but prepared.

Infographic: Ways to deal with losing your job

12 Ways to Cope with Job Loss

9. Do what you love: What do you truly enjoy doing? Can you turn it to a business? People succeed when they do what they enjoy doing! Blogging, gardening, organizing, designing, painting etc., will take your mind of things and can net you some money as well. Maintain balance in your life. Don’t let your job search consume you as you must dedicate your evenings and weekends doing what you enjoy doing.

Make time for fun, rest, and relaxation—whatever revitalizes you will lead you to a new beginning. Make time for regular exercise as this can be a great outlet for stress and worry while you’re looking for work. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise every day of the week. Sleep is also important for your mental health. Make sure you get at least 7 hours of sleep every night. It will help you keep your focus sharp and put your stress levels under control. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and yoga are also a powerful antidote to stress. They will boost your feelings of tranquillity and facilitate calmness.


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10. Get to your own ‘new beginning’ and shine like never before: Take your time to find organizations with the missions, principles and values that you can relate to. Employers are much more interested in candidates who have a passion for the company than someone who is just looking for a paycheck. Your resume or CV and cover letter are not unique as there are many hugely experienced and qualified number of people laid off often so there’s the likelihood of many more people for you to compete against for a single position. That is why is important for you to stand out from the crowd and get noticed.

A new sort after skill and the new prime selling point of your abilities will highlight how astute you are and you can also add these selling points to your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles.

Everything happens for a reason

Everything happens for a reason. Some terminated workers find that their layoffs came at the perfect time to address owning their own business or dealing with health concerns while they devote more attention to their families. Reflect inward for any issues you’ve been putting aside. In between job searches, take a few steps in the direction of your own dreams. Search for an investor to fund a business you’ve always dreamed of owning.

What better time than during a break from 9 to 5.  You might find that the best way to deal with losing your job is to do something for yourself. Getting laid off may be the best thing that ever happened to you and your career.

How else can you deal with losing your job? Let’s hear from you. Leave your comment below.

Catherine Adenle
Founder, Catherine's Career Corner. The career site empowering and inspiring ambitious candidates of all ages and professions to thrive and work smarter on their careers. Gladly helping all career-minded people worldwide to explore their career, manage change and understand how new technologies are changing and enhancing the future of work.
Catherine Adenle
Catherine Adenle

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