That initial punch from a lay off strikes people differently. Some of the C-level executives I talk with are devastated and question their job performance.
They feel devalued, abused, and demoralized. One CEO told me he was laid off in an email over the Christmas holidays.
Others say the lay off forced them to do what they knew they had to do anyway – find another job. They had been unhappy for a long time. Others saw the writing on the wall and already had their bags packed, heading for the door.
For those of you stuck in an abyss of self-doubt, take heart in the fact that the lay off probably had nothing to do with your performance.
Jason Alba at JibberJobber said “Depression clouds everything”, when describing how his layoff a few years ago blind-sided him.
His experience resonates as much today as it did when he wrote about it in October 2007:
Day after day, the rejection, the self-doubt, all the bad stuff that happens when your world is turned upside down, the emotions where clouding things. Judgment was clouded, because I was desperate. Performance was clouded because I was scared. I certainly wasn’t used to dealing with these emotions, especially week after week.
He asked another recently laid off friend of his, whom he had always known to be composed and in control, how the lay off was affecting him. His shocking reply was: “Jason, it got to the point where I asked myself if it was the wrists or the neck.”
Jason ended with a caution:
For those of you who haven’t been jobless yet, thinking that you give 110% to your company and they’ll take care of you, mark my words, the emotional aspect of a job search, no matter what your locus of control is, may be the most surprising, derailing thing you have to deal with in your job search.
You may find further consolation in the 300-some telling comments from readers of his post.
Although it’s not a good idea to dwell in a “why me?” syndrome, I do think it’s wise to first acknowledge that what happened to you is unfair and awful, and get mad, grieve, shake your fists at the bad guys – however you need to vent. Hopefully those around you will understand that you need to do this to assimilate the blow, before moving forward and tackling the challenge of landing a new opportunity.
A lay off can impel deep introspection and re-examination of what you’ve been doing with your worklife. It is possible to gain some power from what may be an otherwise crushing blow.
One helpful blog to follow if you’re dealing with a layoff is the Wall Street Journal’s Laid Off and Looking. Eight C-level and senior-level executives share their experiences as they look for new jobs in a post-meltdown world. Hearing their stories will hopefully be affirming and give you ideas on what to do next.
Another great resource to tap into as you move forward is the free e-book, Job-Hunt® 15 Minute Guide to Layoff Self-Defense, by Susan P. Joyce, Online Job Search Expert and Editor/Publisher of job-hunt.org.