The Emotional Side of Career Transition
Today, like most days, I started my morning on LinkedIn. I always start my day by checking my notifications to see what’s going on in the world of my connections. This morning, I ran across a post written by one of my second connections. The woman, an HR professional, had recently been laid off and asked one of the most honest, real and transparent questions I’ve seen posted on LinkedIn in a long time. She wanted to know what people do to cope with the emotional side of a lay off. Her story pulled at my heart the way so many of my client’s stories pull at my heart. It is unfortunate that although research shows that 20 million or more people are displaced in the US every year, we don’t really do a lot to help those Americans deal with what has become a very common occurrence.
The LinkedIn poster was not my client and I try not to give advice on LinkedIn without really knowing the person, her personality, background or education, but it really made me think about the ways that I have partnered with my clients to deal with the emotional side of a job separation. For today’s career tip Tuesday I share tips to help you manage those emotions.
- Find a Support System: Although we all deal with the reality of an involuntary separation differently, you will find it helpful to surround yourself with people that can be supportive in your transition. Your support system should consist of a diverse group of individuals. You’ll want friends who have gone through the process, other job seekers, and ideally a coach who can help you navigate the new waters. Avoid the tendency to make your spouse or partner your sole support during this time as that can be very draining and can lead to other problems.
- Turn to Your Faith: Prayer, meditation, yoga are all acts of spiritually connecting to a higher being. When we lose a job it is important that we lean on and/or reconnect with our belief system and exercise faith. I believe that this can be done formally or informally, but it must be done. Job search can feel overwhelming at times and faith can provide a foundation to keep moving when we don’t feel like we can.
- Look for Opportunity: As backwards as it may sound for many of my clients a weight is lifted when they stop to think of the opportunities the separation affords them. Maybe you’ve wanted to do something different for some time, but were afraid to leave. Maybe you’d gotten comfortable in your role and were no longer reaching for your full potential. Is there a business that you’ve been wanted to start? Have you been longing to take a vacation with your kids? Stop and look for opportunity. Once you’ve realized the opportunity be thankful and grateful.
- Journal: If you’ve followed me for any period of time you know that I’m a believer in the power of the written word. Journaling helps you keep a clear mind, gives you a safe place to be vulnerable and provides a historical reference that “this too shall pass.” Keeping a journal of how you feel AND the actions that you are taking to complete your transition can be very powerful.
- Commit to self-work: Job search is full of rejection. You’ll receive more noes than you will receive yeses. For most of us rejection can do a number on our self-esteem. One way to reduce the amount of rejection you’ll receive is to take the time to do the work of branding and positioning yourself for the next opportunity. Not taking inventory of what you bring to the table and where your strengths lie will lead to more rejection.
- Make Finding a Job Your Job: There is an expression that it’s a job finding a job and that is true. Finding a new, rewarding opportunity involves research and strategy. There are a lot of moving parts. The work involved in finding a job can be emotionally beneficial if you’ve taken head of the other tips. An effective job search strategy gives you goals and focus. If you set weekly job search goals that include networking, researching, applying, interviewing and follow up your days will be productive.
- Mind Your Mental Health. It is normal to take a few days after an involuntary separation to sleep in, veg out, watch TV and eat ice cream. I actually do those things from time to time without a precipitating event, but if you find yourself not getting out of the bed for an extended period of time, not wanting to leave the house, having a hard time pushing through the sadness or having a hard time concentrating you may be dealing with depression. A licensed professional can help you manage those debilitating thoughts. Don’t try to do it alone. Your previous company may offer resources to connect you with mental health issues connected to your separation. You may also get referrals from sites like Psychology Today or friends or family members.
There are tons of practical steps involved in a career transition. You’ll want to update your resume and LinkedIn and practice interviewing, but the most important part of any career transition is you. YOU have to be ok. You can’t network or interview well if you haven’t dealt with the emotional side of your transition. You have to put your own oxygen mask on before you can effectively support your family.
I hope this list helps someone. Please share it with anyone that you know that may need it.