1. Don’t Panic!
1. Don’t Panic!
After a job loss, it may seem like your world is crashing in all at once. Stay calm and resist the urge to make any sudden moves -- like sending a scathing e-mail or making a scene on your way out -- that could hurt you in the long run.
“It’s completely normal to feel panic after a job loss,” says Lynn Joseph, Ph.D., psychologist and author of “The Job-Loss Recovery Guide.” In fact, it may feel like the rug has been pulled out from under your career -- and your life, she says.
Your self esteem can also take a hit, especially if you think you’ve been singled out. “Logically and intellectually we know that (we may have been part of a mass layoff), but emotionally we take it personally,” Joseph says.
With so many emotions at play, the key is to think before you act. Remember, your goal is to leave your job gracefully and with integrity.
If you’re granted an exit interview, be careful what you say. Don’t use it as an opportunity to put down the company. Instead, take the time to get answers to any questions you might have.
Avoid immediately jumping into a job search, Joseph warns. “Traditionally we work with interviews and resumes before we work with the emotional loss of a career. We are not taking it in the right order,” she says, and advises that you take a few days off to calm yourself down and deal with your emotions. You don’t want to land a job interview and break down explaining what happened to you. Get your emotional and body language under control before you attempt to go on the interview trail.
Also, don’t over-think things or feel as though you have to do damage control when others ask about your job, explains Robert Leahy, Ph.D., clinical professor of psychology and author of “The Worry Cure.” Leahy says accepting reality is essential to making it through this difficult time.
“Unemployment is part of every market economy. Take a matter-of-fact approach. You have a choice: If you cope with it poorly, you’ll drink more, you’ll smoke more, ruminate and isolate yourself,” he says. “A lot of people think that rumination will help you solve the problem or will help you find closure … The disadvantage is that it makes you depressed and it makes you withdraw from people.”
It’s a normal reaction to grieve the colleagues that you built friendships with over years of work. “People do go through the same stages of grief after losing a job that people experience following the loss of a loved one,” Joseph says.
The stress and anxiety of losing your job will take time to settle. Don’t rush yourself.
2. Negotiating a Severance Package
You may have worked for your company for several years or maybe you were “last hired, first fired.” Whatever your situation, after a layoff most companies will provide a severance package.
Your company’s attorney may tell you they’ve done everything consistently, treating all employees equally. HR consultant Eve Framinan recommends asking questions about how your severance was determined and what “objective criteria” was used to make the package fair.
Most employers will require you to sign “a complete release of claims against that company,” says HR expert Lily Garcia, who is also a lawyer. Basically, what your employer wants from you is legally binding insurance that you are not going to sue them for any reason. In exchange, they are willing to offer you a set amount of money, typically calculated in weeks of pay and based on company seniority.