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Getting Fired: The 5 Stages of Grief and Recovery

Eleanor Brooks -- Job seekers have plenty of advice and advisors to help them navigate the challenges of finding a job. However, once they become employees, how prepared are they to cope when it comes to losing that job?

One of the biggest life-changing events is getting fired. Certainly, it is not the equivalent of a loved one’s death, but it is a “death” of sorts, and there are predictable stages of grief and recovery. Getting through these stages as quickly and as successfully as possible is important, but no stage should be denied or not allowed to be!

Stage 1: Panic

Panic is normal. How will the bills get paid? How will you find a job in this economy? How will you compete with others who are fresh out of school, who have the latest education/training and who may be less costly to an organization? You need to recognize the panic, accept it, and find ways to reduce and eventually eliminate it. Physical exercise is an important tool-–walk, run, go to the gym, or get busy on some projects at home. Taking the steps of applying for unemployment and other benefits that may be available will help reduce the financial worry. Look at your assets--you may have personal savings, a 401K from your job. If you are married and your spouse is working, consider yourself blessed! Relieving the financial panic will also be assisted by making a game of cutting expenses. You can become a cheapskate and make it fun!

Stage 2: Anger

You have to acknowledge your anger and allow it to surface. They did you “wrong.” You did not deserve to be fired. You worked hard and you gave them the best you had. All of this may be true, but it will not bode you well if you stay in this “place.” Find appropriate outlets for your anger--clean the garage or basement. Go through every room in your house and do a complete overhaul. Throw stuff away; have a garage sale. Some find it helpful to do a bit of volunteer work with less fortunate people.

Stage 3: Manic job search activity

This stage may be melded with the first two, because there is a certain immediate need to get that resume written/polished, to get it out to recruiters, and to search every employment site for position opportunities. Putting energy into a job search is, of course, important and productive, and the ultimate goal is, of course, a new position. Care must be taken, in your frenzy, however, to be certain that your resume is a stellar piece of writing, and you may want to consult with a professional as you put it together. And you may want to revise it a bit, based upon a specific company or a recruiter’s information. Indeed, you may have several different resumes, dependent upon specific skills you need to highlight.

Stage 4: Self-doubt

If you’ve had a few interviews but no offer, you may succumb to feelings that you are unemployable. This will be reflected in your verbal responses to recruiters and to telephone interviews which may occur. To counter this, you will need to practice your responses to the questions that you know will be typically asked. One question that will feed that self-doubt will probably relate to your termination. Be honest, but make your response brief. Figure out your response, practice it on a spouse or friend, and stick to it.

Stage 5: Make a plan

If a new position does not come within a few months, you will need to decide how to make yourself more “sellable” and more relevant to the market. The best plan will probably involve further education or training, so get grants and loans (if you have to), and get back in school. Potential employers are always impressed that you have taken the initiative to improve your skills, and it gives you a good explanation for why you are not currently employed. You can add your current educational status to your resume!

Obviously, anyone who obtains a new position during the stage 3 job search, will not experience stages 4 or 5, but these are good things to keep in mind, if this should happen again!

Eleanor Brooks was a freelance journalist prior to joining Essay Warriors writing service over a decade ago. She currently writes content for blogs, article directories, social media, and helps students with writing papers.

© 2014 Eleanor Brooks

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