Coping with the Grief of a Layoff: 5 Tips If You’re Looking for a Job

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” ~Seneca

This is a difficult season in the economy. The consequences for people being laid off can be very painful.

The job hunt can be difficult, no matter your level of expertise or qualifications. It hurts even if your layoff was caused by circumstances outside of your control.

The fear, instability, and uncertainty about what your next job will be or when it will come to fruition are emotionally unsettling, and our collective toxic positivity conditioning isn’t always helpful.

Yes, it’s true that most of us have more to be grateful for than we can feel in the moment, but our hard feelings are valid and need space to be felt.

I was recently let go from a role that felt like a dream job when I signed my offer letter, and yes, I have healed from that pain, but I had to feel my way through all of it versus simply “thinking positive.”

Even before my job was terminated, there were many emotions that I experienced. First, there was the disappointment that the job wasn’t what I thought it would be, then there was the grief over a chapter of my life ending without knowing why and the lack of closure.

Even though we may feel hurt, our bodies have the ability to heal and reconnect with us, as well as rediscover what is important during difficult seasons. But we have to give ourselves permission to be real—to be honest with ourselves more than anybody else—and we also need tremendous amounts of self-trust and self-belief in a season that feels rife with self-doubt.

If you’ve been laid off and looking for a job, here are some suggestions.

1. Accept what you’re feeling.

You have full permission to feel whatever you’re feeling right now. Feeling your feelings doesn’t make you weak; it makes you brave. There is a big difference between allowing yourself to feel your feelings and avoiding getting stuck. The former is what I advocate for.

Maybe you had a vacation planned that will now need to be canceled and you’re feeling disappointed, or you may be the sole breadwinner of your family and you’re feeling scared. Maybe you never had a chance to say goodbye to your coworkers, and you’re grieving the loss of those daily connections. Maybe you had the world’s best manager, and you are heartbroken to no longer be working for that person. Your feelings are all valid.

2. Take care of you.

Sometimes it can seem tempting to spend all your time on resume revisions, job applications, and informational interviews. A few easy self-care tips can help you maintain momentum. Simple but effective ways to stay grounded during difficult times include a 30-minute walk, mindfulness practices, or coffee with friends in real life.

This can feel obvious, but during our hardest times especially, with uncertainty in the environment, it can be easy to go into a narrative of “I don’t deserve rest” or “I haven’t earned a break.” But here is the truth: Rest, downtime, joy, fun, and play are your birthrights. You don’t have to earn them, and they can actually be effective components of your achievement strategy since they all help you feel and be your best.

3. Audit your learnings.

Being a bit distant from the day-to-day work grind can be a good time to reflect on your learnings, who you are as a person, employee, and leader, and what’s truly next for you versus what you think you shouldWhat should you do next?

There is a difference, and even if you can’t go for the former, there is power in naming what you want so that you can find components of the “want” even in your “shoulds” and potentially build toward something that will be even more fulfilling.

Think about the moments that are most alive during your life. How can you make them more prevalent in your next journey? Do you have any favorite skills? Which contribution are you most proud of? Which leaders and environments bring out your best?

For me, it was something I wanted for a long time to be able to do for myself. It was a great opportunity to take something I did on the side, and make it a full-time job.

4. Create a strong strategy.

Once you have a sense of what you want for your future, create a routine and strategy to give your day structure and ensure you’re putting your energy in the right direction.

There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy. Your career path, goals, personal style, season, and other factors will all play a part. There are lots of areas where you can invest your time—job fairs, informational interviews, cover letters, job applications, resumes, networking events, and more, so make sure you have a plan while also leaving room for some serendipitous wins so you can prepare for any new opportunities that come your way.

Important is to stay proactive and not reactive. It’s easy to let your fear-based brain run the show, as you scroll through social media and see what other people are doing. Keep your eyes on the end goal, make a plan, stay committed, and keep working towards them. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon, so be intentional, have a plan, and stay focused so you don’t get discouraged or burnt out.

5. Get support.

And finally, my favorite, invite support, not because you are weak and can’t do it alone but because we all do better in community and connection. To support and hold one another accountable, find a friend with a similar situation. If you are unable to hire someone, consider hiring a coach for your career or consulting a psychotherapist. You can also join an online support group. You can surround yourself with people who are committed to helping you achieve your best.

It is important to know that you’re not the only one on this journey. Every day there are many people around the world who struggle with uncertainty. They don’t know when the economy will rebound, how they’ll find work, and what their chances of staying employed. Keep in mind that the uncertainty we are facing and all of the grief and traumas our species has endured over the last 20 years is what you’re doing.

It is my hope that you will see and feel your brilliance, talents, and wisdom, and be able to bravely share them with the world.

About Neha Mandhani

Neha, a leader coach and career strategist is for those who are looking to be more authentic in their leadership and have greater self-belief. She believes that we can claim our own leadership power by connecting with our inner wisdom & find fulfillment through contribution & self-expression. She is the creator of “Inner Leader Coaching Circle” & “Bold Leadership for Brave Mothers” You can download the “Leadership Manifesto for Today’s Brave Woman” on her website.

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