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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

How to Survive Unemployment (2)

9: Remember, life isn’t fair. Whether laid off or fired, according to experts, you go through five stages of coping with job loss: denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and finally acceptance. It’s rarely a straight progression. Some days you will feel angry, other days sad, and, eventually, you’ll say good riddance.

You especially want to avoid tarring the many for the sins of the few. I had lunch with a headhunter a couple of weeks after my resignation. He asked me how many people I worked with in my job. I estimated 400 to 500 people. He then asked how many did me wrong. It was fewer than the fingers on one hand. Don’t let a few bad apples, he warned me, sour you on people.

8: Seek revenge, sweet revenge. It’s human and understandable. Your former employer hurt you bad, and you’ll want to strike back. Instead of indulging in pointless vigilante fantasies, expend your energy on achieving true and lasting revenge—get a better job.

7: Reevaluate your priorities. You have been given the gift of spare time. Use it to think deeply about your life. What did you enjoy about your last job and what do you want to avoid next time? If you could live anywhere in the world, had the education and money you needed, what would be your ideal job? What truly matters to you? Unless Shirley MacLaine is correct, we get only one life. Make sure at the end it’s filled not with regret but purpose and meaning.

6: Interview, often. Thankfully, I had several spring training interviews before I got to a position I truly wanted. I needed the interview practice to get right with the past. I feared the dreaded question—Why did you leave your last position? What I discovered was that the dreaded question was simply that: a single question. The interviewers were far more concerned about whether I matched their needs. By repeatedly talking about my departure, the stigma gradually faded. In my saner moments, I could view the event philosophically. It happened, I learned from it, and I’m moving on with my life.

Like a well-written book, my departure story went through several drafts. Some versions emphasized the elephant’s trunk, others the tail, and so on. An interview is not a therapy session. Stick to the facts, emphasize the positives, focus on your accomplishments. Trashing former employers rarely wins points with future employers.

5: Be patient. For you, finding work is one of the most important things in your life. For potential employers, your unemployment means nothing. Weeks will pass before you’ll get an interview or a final decision is reached. Until you receive the rejection letter, you’re still in the game. Follow up with potential employers: write a note, send an email, make a phone call. The name of the game is to keep your name in the game. But don’t overdo it. Calling an employer every day will certainly create an impression—desperate loser.

Click here to read part 3 of this article

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