Surviving Job Loss So You Can Move Forward

It might not seem like it now, but surviving job loss is possible!

If you are trying to cope with losing your job, then your journey to a more rewarding career needs to start here. Why? It's very important to deal with the immediate issues first. You have to come face to face with your fears, sadness, anger and what ever else you are feeling. In other words - recognize your emotions and deal with them before you can move on.

Downsized, fired, laid off - it doesn't matter much what they call it - the resulting feelings are the same! Whether you loved or hated your job it still hurts. In fact, if you hated your job you might be feeling relief mixed in with all the negative emotions. And guess what that leads to - Guilt! How can you be relieved when you don’t know what to do next? What if your loved ones knew a part of you was secretly glad to be rid of that job? So examine all of your feelings and be honest with yourself. This examination is critical to surviving job loss.

Losing a job is a major life transition! Despite the high number of people unemployed - it still can be devastating when it happens to you. So take the time to grieve a little - but not too long. Don't get into the trap of re-hashing your dismissal over and over again. It's easy to do, and believe me I did it myself. But I finally had to let go and move on and you will too. This is a crucial step to surviving job loss.

A special word of caution: IF YOU WERE FIRED - TAKE THE HIGH ROAD! As tempting as it may be to "get even" or trash talk your former employer - don't do it! Never burn bridges. You never know when you might need a reference or you might have an interview with a person who knows your former boss or coworker. Just remember Karma - it's real! And it works both ways, so if you were treated poorly it isn't necessary to go after your own revenge. Life takes care of itself.

Books for Surviving Job Loss

So how exactly does one cope with losing their job? As I mentioned before, start by recognizing all of your feelings. Don't try to suppress them - it will only make it much worse. If you are like most people, you will automatically take out your hurt and anger on those closest to you. Remember that your job loss is hard on your loved ones also. So try to talk it out instead with your spouse, partner, best friend or whomever you go to when you are hurting. Once you deal with your feelings, then spend some time analyzing what happened. Find something to learn from this experience! There is always a lesson to be learned. This doesn't mean that your job termination was your fault. Sometimes bad things happen to good people, but there is a lesson in that also. It is up to you to figure out what the lesson is and learn from it.

Recognize that there needs to be a time for reviewing and dealing with issues in order to survive job loss. Then and only then will you be ready for the next step - finding your dream career! This might seem far off right now, but remember that everything happens at the exact right time. A very important step right now is to do an honest self evaluation and determine your job termination reason. Everyone handles their feelings and copes with job loss differently. My husband was "downsized" after 25 years and wanted to start looking for another job the next day. I knew he was still in shock and thought he should wait a while, but it was the right thing for him. When I lost my job a few years back, I ended up on an interview the following week and blew it! I simply wasn't ready. I had not yet taken any of the steps for surviving job loss. That's how I know what those steps are! I had to experience it the hard way, hopefully by reading this you will be better prepared that I was.

So make sure your head is on straight before you land any interviews. Unless it's a job you're not that interested in and just want the experience of an interview. Which isn’t such a bad idea of you've been out of the loop for a while. You are in survival mode! Surviving job loss, that is. Surviving a layoff is a little different than handling a permanent job loss - see this special section devoted to this topic.


  • Grieve, analyze what happened and how you can learn from it - What is my lesson to be learned here?
  • Take care of practical matters - filing for unemployment and money management.
  • Take care of yourself - eat right, exercise.
  • Try some positive thinking - find some self confidence.
  • Do a few things you haven’t had the time to do in a while.
  • Start thinking about what your next move will be.


"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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