Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pink Slips Aplenty

I'm no stranger to the unemployment line.
I've been restructured twice (well, three times if you count the most recent issue with my contract renewal) in my career and both times were very difficult for me because I took the Pink Slip Process too personally. It's hard not to when you give your all to a company and then get the big kiss-off.
Recently, we've all been touched, in one way or another, by this economic 'crisis'. You would have to be either Paris Hilton or living under a rock if you haven't been. We all know someone who has lost a job or some major part of their livelihood--perhaps you are one of those people?

I've never really been particulary fantastic at one specific thing because I'm a textbook multi-tasking, Capricorn worker bee. I consider myself good at everything. I'm certain I'm not alone. I'm also certain this is one of the reasons why I've had a difficult time finding a great company that appreciates me over the last few years.
However, there is one thing that I am very good at and yes, you can say I specialize in this area; dealing with unemployment and the invetibale job hunting process. (Just take a look at some of my old blogs)
So, for all you job hunters out there, listen up! Things will get better and you WILL land that job, eventually.
I know, you can't make a living off of 'eventually' so let me elaborate on this whole Pink Slip Process.
From my own personal experience, there are three major stages you will go through now that you've been laid-off.

1. Shock

When you first receive your Pink Slip, you are going to feel shocked. Even if you 'felt it coming' over the last couple of months, you're still going to be shocked when you're pulled into that big, echoing boardroom with the VP of Pink Slip Land (aka, the VP of Human Resources). You'll probably be escorted back to your desk to pack up and then lead out to the front doors of your office building--the same doors you happily walked into on your first day, way back when. You'll walk, in a daze, back to the car or the bus from which you came.
Many thoughts and images will run through your mind, like a mirrorball. Your first impulse is to call everyone you know. You'll discuss the issue at length for awhile and then by mid-afternoon you'll be emotionally and physically drained.
From my own experience, it's very important to hold tight to your friends and family at this time. When you're in shock, you can say and do things without thinking--your unconcious. You need good, honest people around you for moral support. So, call them whenever you need to vent or just need to hear a friendly voice.

Stay away from ANY friend or family member that you deem negative during this stage!

2. The Pity Party

After the shock wears off, you're going to feel sad and alone and if you liked your job in any way, you're going to love it and mourn it by now. Mostly because your friends and family will be going on about their business (and going to work) and you'll feel forgotten and rather useless because you don't feel as busy anymore. But don't worry, you're not forgotten. Your friends and family want to help you through this but please remember that they have busy lives, too.

At this time, it's a good idea to stay away from sending out resumes and cover letters and trying to set up job interviews. I know this sounds strange. Trust me though, you need to take a few days (or weeks, if you can) to regroup and revamp that resume. Also, from an energy point of you, you will come off as deseperate or deflated if you start to interview at this time. You need to take a breather. You need to treat yourself well during this stage. Read that book you always wanted to read but never had the time. Spend some quality time with your kids. Treat yourself to a hot fudge sundae and a long, hot bath. Or why not take a long walk or run? It's a great stress-reliever and fresh air always seems to help clear the cobwebs from your mind.

Don't panic at this stage. The sadness won't last long and you'll need all of your strength to handle the next stage--the most difficult stage.

3. Anger

After sadness and the pity party get's tired, you'll move on to the anger stage. It won't take much to set you off on this path. Could just be something you saw on Oprah that day or maybe someone simply asked 'have you heard anything yet?' For me, all it took was one unreturned phone call from a potential employer and I turned into this raging lunatic. I hated every company and every HR Manager had become the devil incarnate. I hated myself during this stage and actually started blaming myself for getting let go even though it was a restructuring and had nothing to do with performance. This is a typical reaction though so fight it as soon as the feeling comes up. You need to think of yourself as an asset. Every time I started to feel anger or resentment, I would say to myself "I'm an honest, hard worker and I deserve a good job with a decent company" over and over again.

The funny thing is, during this stage some good came out of a bad situation. I started writing my novel. Mostly because I felt so rejected, I wanted to show the world that they made a mistake by passing on me as an employee. I wanted to show them that I was more than just a well-written resume. When I look back at my writing during that time, it was pretty damn good. However, I would never want to feel that kind of negativity in my life ever again. I was miserable and so were the people around me.

So, during the anger stage, you need to be a bit harder on yourself. Forget those hot fudge sundaes and the self-loathing, what you need now is a plan. A positive, realistic plan to get you back in the workforce. Think about changing your resume or changing the way you answer certain, typical interview questions. Study up on the interviewing process--there are a ton of books and websites dedicated to helping people answer those tough questions. Also, think about your attire. Are you dressing properly for your interviews? And what about the positions themselves, are they suitable for you or are you just applying for them out of desperation. Speaking of the positions, are you tailoring your resume for them? If not, you need to start. A canned resume will only get you so far.

Read A New Earth after this stage is winding down!

My last piece of advice at getting through this diffucult time is for you to read a book called A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. I won't elaborate on why I want you to read this book--just do it. However, if at the first page, you are already questioning my recommendation, put it down and don't pick it up again until you're ready. This book can't be read when you're negative in any way.

Final thought:

I practice what I preach. I am also in the same job hunting boat with the rest of you so please don't think I don't know how you feel.

This blog is dedicated to my very smart, beautiful and hard-working friend who lost her job this morning. I'll be here to help you through your three stages as you have always been there to help me through mine! xoxo


Suzette Saxton said...

I like the tip about staying away from negative friends and family members. Too true!

wildstrawberries said...

I couldn't agree more. I think everyone should read 'A New Earth'.