No Shame and No Justice

Unless you’re devoid of any feelings, one of the toughest things to hear from someone is that they lost their job.  This is a hard thing to hear from anyone, particularly if you know the person well, and know that they have committed themselves for a long time to that gig.  And even if you aren’t closely acquainted, it’s hard to not feel sympathetic toward someone who has lost their income, and frequently their purpose, through job loss.
Being let go from a job is not uncommon.  It’s probably happened to most adults at least once in their working lives, and usually through no fault of their own.  In the last few years, the most frequent stories of job loss have come through company-wide layoffs, where you’re not alone in losing your job.  And while some employers are quick to provide or arrange for job seeking services to those being let go, there are too many people who get terminated with little or no assistance from their (now former) employer.
Larger employers have more choices for assisting those being terminated. They can contract with private service providers to conduct workshops and meet one-on-one with those being let go to help them move forward toward a new job.  Larger employers can also arrange assistance from the local employment development department.
But our nation’s work force is not primarily those employed by large corporations. In fact, most workers are employed by small businesses.  And without the support and guidance of trained professionals to provide job search training and assistance, those who lose their jobs can flounder unproductively for too long.
Regardless the size of the business, when an employer decides to cut your job it can be quite painful.  And if you don’t see the cut coming, it can be even worse.  It’s probably hardest for those who get terminated right after returning to work from vacations, honeymoons or sick leaves. I have heard too many horror stories recently from people removed from their jobs upon returning with renewed energies and dedication after time away; time off that was calendared and approved.  I personally think that employers who fire workers without due cause right after they have returned from a vacation or honeymoon are the lowest of the low!  And those who terminate their workers just before the holidays don’t win any points either.
OK, sometimes these cuts are necessities to save a business, but if you’re the one being cut, all the rationalizations in the world mean diddely.  And the excuses employers provide when they cut staff are frequently fabricated to cover their assets, with little bearing on the reality of the worker’s productivity or performance.
So, what do you do if you’re the one cut?

  • First of all, don’t waste time feeling sorry for yourself.  In this economy, you have little time for a pity party.  And unless you’re one of the few to get a generous severance package, start living as frugally as possible right away.  Get your act together because you will have competition from others looking for the same or similar type jobs.
  • Get as much information about the reasons for your dismissal as possible.  And if you can, get something in writing that explains why you were let go.
  • File for unemployment insurance as soon as possible.
  • Get the names and full contact information for supervisors, management and coworkers, and ask for written references right away while the quality of your contributions and performance can be easily recalled.
  • Get permission from these people to use them as references for your upcoming job applications.  It’s ok to use others who have been terminated as references; don’t let that they too were fired keep you from asking for their support, and provide the same for them too.
  • Update your resume and cover letters right away.  Make sure to describe the contributions you made on the job clearly and concisely.
  • Let everyone in your network know that you are looking for a new job, and be concise in the way you describe what kind of job you are looking for.  Provide those in your network copies of your resume, and encourage them to pass it around.   Post your resume on social and professional networking websites, as well as job search boards.

While there’s no justice in the way many people are laid off, there’s no shame in being fired; it happens to millions of people all the time.  Just don’t let the experience affect your ability to move forward.  Talk with your family and friends about your feelings and your need to find work.  And if anger and resentment are affecting your ability to focus on your job search, seek professional help.  Don’t “stuff your feelings”, as it won’t serve your productivity and could be a detriment to your getting your next job.
Good luck!  I’m rooting for you!
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