One of life’s brutal realities is the loss of employment. Coming to terms with your layoff or termination is not easy. It is particularly difficult when:
- your pink slip marks the separation between you and a position that you have worked diligently to achieve;
- you must leave the corporation to which you have given many years of your loyalty;
- you are an older employee, perhaps in a managerial capacity.
While we are not psychotherapists, our position as well-established career professionals has allowed us to experience, via interaction with our clients, the desperate, very real, and sometimes heart-breaking results of unemployment. As means of counteracting these results, we offer the following insights and suggestions.
Your depression is real. It is normal to feel saddened and angry after an involuntary separation from your employer. It is only human to mourn the loss of your job and to fear for your financial future. What is not normal, however, is the state of panic that immobilizes you to the degree that you can no longer summon the energy to get up off the couch, shower, and dress for an interview. If you are experiencing such feelings or even darker thoughts, you may be suffering from clinical depression, an actual condition that can only be diagnosed and treated by a skilled, licensed therapist. If you need to consult such a specialist, there is no shame in taking this positive action. Through focused therapy, insightful examination of your feelings can lead you onto the road of emotional healing and renew your stamina to move forward.
Birds of a feather. Support groups of a non-clinical nature are available for those facing unemployment; seek them out, if you feel the need. While you may find comfort in speaking with people who hail from your own sphere of influence (a church group, for instance), you may prefer the anonymity of Internet sites devoted to discussions and tips about regaining your place in the workforce.
Unemployment Benefits. If you are entitled to unemployment benefits, begin the claim process immediately upon your termination; a lead-time of several weeks is required before you receive your first check. Should you feel that you have been denied such benefits unjustifiably, you are entitled to state your case to a representative of the Unemployment Office. He or she will then launch an investigation into your circumstances as well as your employer’s position, and will then render a decision, based upon applicable guidelines and regulations.
Regardless of the name of the entity in your state, the branch of the government handling unemployment benefits is not merely the presenter of funds from an account into which you, as a member of the working force, have paid. Your local Unemployment Office may sanction you for certain training classes, free of charge, so as to prepare you to reenter the job market. As the applicable Department’s guidelines change fairly frequently, do not rely upon information that you may have received in the past; ascertain what those guidelines currently permit.
Be a Big Brother or a Big Sister. For the serious job seeker, the search for the next position can itself be a full time job. The process of waiting for the phone to ring, interviewing, and hoping for the job offer to appear can be frustrating, intimidating, and even debilitating. Lighten your emotional burden by lightening someone else’s. It may sound trite, but volunteering a few hours of your time each week to a cause you deem worthy may help you in more ways than you may imagine. An active role in community service will allow you to step outside of yourself for a bit, providing you with a fresher perspective and greater confidence, even as you advance the objectives of your chosen charitable organization.
In a more practical vein, volunteer work looks good on your resume, especially if you are an older employee. It speaks of your commitment to others and your ability to organize, promote, and/or participate in events that benefit the community-at-large. On an interview, when you are asked “what else” you have been doing with your time as you job seek (and you will be asked this question), you can speak honestly and perhaps passionately about the cause with which you are affiliated. If you are able, you can subtly introduce the communicative, negotiating, organizational, and other skills upon which you have capitalized during your voluntary experience. Feel free to highlight one or two specific accomplishments, such as, “I personally raised $1,200 in a three-hour telephone drive” or “I personally recruited three more volunteers into the cause.”
The third, potential benefit of volunteering for a worthy cause is that it will bring you into contact with new people, some of whom may even turn out to be good networking sources for you!