Reactions to Job Loss; Getting Past the Emotions

By: Peter Fisher

Without doubt, job loss through downsizing or redundancy, is a major event for everyone when it happens. Most of us invest so much of ourselves in what we do that job loss can take away our sense of status and belonging, as well as the routine and support that work provides. With our job forming so much of our identity, it leaves us feeling disoriented and lost - but it can also be a first step to positive job or career change. Everybody reacts differently in the hours and days following being told that they are to lose their job.

* Some people expected it and are not surprised; they may be relieved that the uncertainty is over, and even feel excited about the future.

* Others are shocked and full of disbelief: `This isn't true; you can't be doing this to me.'

* Some will try to convince themselves that the whole process isn't happening. One of the candidates in my practice went right back to her office and carried on with her job for several weeks without even telling her family.

* Others hardly stop to draw breath before writing their resume or CV and applying for new jobs.

Strong emotions are normal; shock, anger, rejection, excitement, relief, guilt and apprehension are all common responses to this situation. So learn to accept that you may feel these at some point.

Usually the early stages of numbness and denial are followed by anxiety or anger; some self-doubt and negativity may follow. It can almost be likened to a necessary period of grieving for the loss of something so important in your life.

Your self-esteem may be affected and this is commonly accompanied by a loss of energy, in which case you need to give yourself a little time to adjust before re-establishing your self-confidence and presenting yourself to other people.

It is important to realise that this is a general pattern and that individuals go through change in their own unique ways. Individual patterns of emotion vary in length, sequence and intensity. Not everyone experiences every stage of these feelings; yet others may go through the loop more than once.

Gradually you will come to the acceptance that nothing can change what has happened. This is when you can start to let go of the past and begin to look forward; you can consider your options or explore new alternatives. This will be a very active time for most job seekers. Over a period of time, the great majority of soon people come to terms with what has happened and its implications.

Learn all you can about career management and job search skills and continue to make use of resources such as my career change website throughout your career.

About the Author:

You can learn more about his dynamic and comprehensive approach to career change, with every page dedicated to helping serious career changers if you go to

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