Coping With Job Loss

Group of professionals leaving office after layoffs

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Call it what you want—being laid off or downsized, getting dismissed or fired, receiving your pink slip or your walking papers—losing your job hurts. Job loss often ranks among the highest in stress on a list of life-altering events such as a death in the family, divorce, and serious illness. It can have a profound effect on your emotional well-being. There is a typical cycle that most people experience when they go through the loss of a job. It includes denial, anger, frustration, and eventually adaptation.

Dealing With Job Loss

As you can see, being separated from one's job is tough and many people experience grief much in the same way they do when someone close to them dies. It is not terribly surprising since a significant part of your life goes away when you lose your job. Many of us closely identify ourselves by what we do for a living. When someone takes your job away, you can lose track of who you are and even why you are, that is, your purpose in life.

If you let it, dealing with the emotional aspects of losing your job can keep you from moving forward. Have yourself a good cry and rant to your friends and family (not your coworkers) about your miserable boss. Then try to put your emotional issues aside while you address a number of significant practical ones. The first thing you must do is determine how long your financial resources will sustain you. Then you must decide if you want to look for another job in the same occupation or make a career change. Finally, you must begin to start planning your future.

Taking Care of the Practical Stuff

Finances are a big concern for most people. When you lose your job, you must figure out how to provide for yourself and your family until you find a new one. Unemployment insurance can help you make ends meet for a little while, but you must meet certain criteria to qualify for it.

In the United States, your local Employment Service Center will be able to help you figure out if you are eligible for this benefit. You can visit the website of the U.S. Department of Labor to learn more about it. The next issue to deal with is health insurance. In the United States, the majority of people who have health insurance are covered under a group plan through their employer. When you lose your job, that benefit may disappear as well. 

That is why The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) was passed some time ago. If you are separated from your job and it was the source of your health insurance, COBRA will allow you continue your policy by paying for it on your own at the group rate. That will typically cost much less than paying for individual or family coverage on your own.

Moving On

Once you have come to terms with all the emotional and financial matters, it is time for you to move on. You must decide where to go next. The first thing you should do is look at why you lost your job. Was the company downsizing? If so, is this a trend in your industry? Do you want to stay in the same occupational field? Maybe you should consider a career change. Perhaps you don't have all the skills new employers will want. It could be a good time to spruce up your skills to make yourself more marketable.

Rather than looking at a job loss as a horrible thing, it might be better to consider the positive implications of this situation. Take the time to make some changes—switch careers or industries, learn some new skills and improve upon the ones you already have, or perhaps consider relocating. Look forward to your next opportunity. You never know what doors this turn of events may open for you.