Survive Job Loss

How To Survive Job Loss With Your Head And Heart Intact

Job loss is something that happens to millions every year and it’s never easy to deal with. I’ve spoken with people who feel as if their very identity is tied to their career and when the job is gone, they feel lost.

I like to think of it as having the rug pulled out from under your life and having to start over. I know it might not sound like it, but it can actually lead to bigger and better things. The key is surviving job loss without losing who you are.

Make The Pity Party A Short One

I’m sure you’ve probably heard that you should skip the pity party and just quickly move on. That’s just not realistic. We are all human and sometimes we just need to take some time to be sad and angry. I don’t think you should just bottle up all those emotions. You need to let them out. Talk to a friend or relative, write in a journal or just talk to yourself in the mirror. Take a day to throw yourself a pity party and then you’ll be ready to take the next step towards managing your job loss.

Establish A Plan To Start Over

I didn’t exactly have a good plan when I first started out on my own and my guess is very few people have any kind of backup plan in place for the possibility of losing a job. Let’s face it, most of us don’t have the luxury of having months worth of savings either. So now, it’s not just the loss of a job, but financial security too. This stress alone can lead to depression and other health problems.

I won’t tell you to just not worry about it, but I will tell you that once you take control of the situation, you’ll feel better. On Day 2 of your job loss, sit down and create a solid plan for starting over. If you have a spouse or close friend, let them help you. Consider things, such as:

  • Current finances and bills
  • Refreshing the resume
  • How long you have to search for a job
  • Job search schedule and methods (online, classifieds, cold calling, etc.)
  • Possibility of short term part-time work to tide you over
  • How to use any benefits from your past employer (such as free college courses, if applicable)

I want to warn you that you might start to feel the need for another pity party as you write out your plan, but stick to it and ignore the urge. You’ll be grateful to have a plan in place as you start Day 3 and start working towards a new future.

Get Emotional Support

No matter what you do, don’t try to go through this alone. I tried this path myself and it didn’t work. I needed emotional support and so you do. Talk to friends, family or even go to a support group in your area. Having someone to talk to when you start feeling anxious or discouraged makes all the difference. They can also help remind you that jobs are out there, especially when you hear stories about how technology could eliminate five million jobs in the coming years.

Your support team is there to push you and keep you on track to find a great new job that will make you glad you lost this one. They’re also great for making you get out and have fun versus staying in and brooding over your situation. Remember – always make time for fun during this time.

Build New Connections

There’s no better time to build new connections than now. I’m a big advocate for social media sites like LinkedIn that help people build professional connections easily. It’s also a great platform for job hunting. In fact, 79% of recruiters hire through LinkedIn.

Work hard on creating professional profiles, joining groups and socializing online. Talk to friends, family and even old co-workers to build local connections too. The more connections, the easier it is to find a new job, which takes the stress off of you.

Create A Daily Routine

One of the things I hate most about job loss is feeling like you have no idea what to do each day. After years of a structured routine, it’s all suddenly gone. Create a new daily routine. Make job hunting your new job or if you’re able to hold off for a while, take some classes to advance your skills to prepare for a better job. The more structure you have, the easier it is to manage stress.

Stay Active And Healthy

I think losing a job is kind of like a major breakup. It hurts, it’s even a little embarrassing and you just want to curl up on the couch, watch TV and eat ice cream all day. Sadly, none of that will help.

Instead, I highly recommend focusing on an exercise regimen. Staying active helps your mood, clears your mind and keeps you healthier. You don’t have to let job loss ruin your health. After all, when that great job does fall in your lap, you want to be healthy enough to get it.

Let Go Of The Guilt

I know how easy it is to feel guilty. You feel like you’re a failure, especially if you’re trying to support a family or prove to family that you’re okay on your own. Job loss happens to the best of us. Let go of any guilt you might have. I wouldn’t want to walk around with 50 lb. weights hanging off my shoulders and neither should you.

Remind yourself that it’s not your fault. The job is gone and feeling guilty about it won’t change the situation. I’ve dealt with guilt just like everyone else. It’s only when I let it go that I’m able to truly move on with my life.

Know When Professional Help Is Necessary

As always, I’m here to help you reinvent yourself after a life altering situation such as job loss, but if you feel like the stress has taken too much of a toll on you, seek out a therapist. Sometimes severe depression seems to come on without warning after an emotional trauma and it’s always better to get help than try to deal with it alone.

My name is Jess Brighton, a Minneapolis based Life, Adversity and Reinvention Coach. Learn more about me and my coaching services by visiting

If you have a question about this or another topic email me at to schedule your complimentary 30 minute strategy session.

Image: Eli DeFaria