Sudden and Unexpected Job Loss

Aly job loss articleAt some point in your career you may experience sudden and unexpected job loss.

You may feel overwhelmed with anger, shock, fear, betrayal, numbness and fatigue, or all of these in the span of a minute.

Your heart may hurt.

These are all common emotions. Even when your job loss is expected or in some cases, welcomed, it can still be a challenging transition.

William Bridges in his book Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes provides a transition model that includes three distinct phases. These phases are Endings, Neutral Zone and New Beginnings.

In my own experience of sudden job loss and in the experiences of my clients, there are many factors that can affect your ability to adapt to this change in your life and transition into something new. With job loss, some of these factors include:

  • Length of time at your job
  • The team you worked with
  • Job fit
  • Attitude
  • Job Search Skills
  • Fear of the unknown

I have found that even with a positive career change (such as a promotion), people can transition slowly. It’s important to be loving and patient with yourself. It can be hard to focus. Your thoughts may wander.

Here are some strategies that may help:

  • Name your loss. What is the hardest thing for you in losing your job? What makes you sad? What will you miss? Take time to mourn this loss as you would if someone close to you died.
  • Talk to friends and, if you can, family. In most cases people will want to help.
  • Become involved with groups who might be experiencing the same thing but with a caveat: make sure the groups help you feel positive and encouraged. At some point, when you are ready, you will need to carry positive feelings about yourself into your job search.
  • Be good to yourself. Eat healthy, sleep and breathe.
  • Feel your feelings whatever they may be. It might be helpful to keep a transition journal.
  • Get professional help and/or career counseling if you find yourself stuck in Endings or the Neutral Zone.
  • Review your career history and accomplishments. This can repair a damaged ego and help you prepare yourself for a job search.

Eventually you will move through this loss into feelings of acceptance, hope, and excitement about your future. It is as inevitable as the sun rising in the east and the coming of spring.

Socrates said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old but on building the new.”

Aly job loss article 2

Aly Anliker, Ed.M

Aly AnlikerAly is a creative organizational and career consultant with over fifteen years of experience in Training Management, Executive Coaching and Instructional Design. She has a background in Human Resources and Marketing and has worked in a variety of industries including telecommunications, high technology, manufacturing and non-profit.



2 Comments on “Sudden and Unexpected Job Loss”

  1. joseph Says:

    As a person who has been down sized, passed over, and let go I can honestly say that I have experienced all of the emotional and financial roller coasters of employment and lack of employment. This article has some great ideas for dealing with job loss but I would also recommend adding exercise to your day to help to keep your body and mind fit while unemployed. Also, it is important to physically write down your goals and a step by step plan to achieve them. “What are my next steps?” 1, 2, 3, ETC.


  2. ifimstillunemployedattheendofthisimquitting Says:

    This is really helpful. I’m in the middle of a job search right now, and it is very difficult, but I have found that connecting with other unemployed bloggers is really helping. It is a good reminder that we are all in this together and that other people go through the same things I go through. It isn’t easy for anyone! I think the advice about reviewing career accomplishments is really good advice too. I’ve been doing that, and it does help.


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