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Emotional Stages Of Unemployment
By: Donalyn Leskosek Spisak




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Being unemployed is an emotional and very personal thing. Whether you get laid off with hundreds of others or are the only person getting cut back, being jobless is emotional. We see ourselves as breadwinners and when this image is being threatened by a layoff or corporate downsizing, we react emotionally. We go through emotional stages of unemployment.

Stage one-Shock-even if we know months in advance we'll be receiving that pink slip, when it happens we're shocked.
Stage two-Confusion-Why me? How did they pick those who were let go?
Stage three-Anger-Who do they think they are upsetting my family and my plans in this way.
Stage four-Resentment-If they knew what they were doing, this wouldn't be happening or I always knew they had it in for me personally.
Stage five-Acceptance-OK this is what happened, worse things have happened, I'll get through this.
Stage Six-Positive Plan-What a wonderful thing this downsizing is. It's an opportunity for me to start anew. Let's see, what do I want to tackle first.


Every stage listed above can be labeled as emotional. Each of them is very personal.

These stages of unemployment take time. Which stage are you in? Some people get through the stages quickly and others never get to the end stage. Be extremely careful when planning interviews. If you're still in an early stage of interviewing, you could be setting yourself up to fail. You must come to terms with your situation and make it into something positive or stay home. Candidates have come to my office to seek interview help and I can't send them out because they still have anger in their voices when describing the details of what has placed them into the position they find themselves in today. Some even respond to my questions about their departures from employment situations with tears in their eyes, gritting of teeth, and quivering of chins. These are not people emotionally ready to move into a new career. These are what I call "The Walking Wounded". We have to remember wounds can be emotional as well as physical. A physical wound is easier to heal. An emotional wound received during a job displacement is always hard to bear. You just simply have to remember, the only thing we can be sure of is change. How you handle the change determines how quickly and how successfully your job search will go.

Never spend valuable time in an interview going over the worst moments of your previous position. The interviewer's job is to eliminate you. Telling them any portion of your past was negative may lead them to believe it was negative because you were involved. Be positive in everything you say and do. Talk about how you grew as a result of this affiliation. If asked a specific question leading you into an explanation of negative situations, simply talk about the downside to the industry, product or service you represented and what obstacles each and every person in your position had to overcome. Don't ever be negative about a person you worked under or beside. The ability to be a "Team Player" is valued highly in today's employment marketplace. Behavioral interviews are very popular and their only job is to pull negativity or a positive attitude out in the open to judge you with.

If you find you're still angry, literally walk or talk it off. Don't talk it off in an interview. Talk it off with friends but, be careful not to burden a lot of friends with this negative information. Friends don't stay friends with a person who is always negative. You'll see, they'll find something else to do until you recuperate from your negative situation. We all prefer positive friends to negative ones. No one wishes to spend time with a person who complains and feels sorry for themselves. When given the choice, most of us will choose the positive over the negative. Do Not Interview until the anger has gone. Find a productive way to release that anger and at the very least feel freed by the fact you don't have to deal with that company or particular person again.

One way to overcome a bad exit from an organization is to ignore the negative aspects of the position on purpose. Make a list of the ways you've grown as a direct result of being affiliated with this organization. Write down your achievements and accomplishments during your tenure. Place your focus on yourself and what you brought to the table and take the emphasis off the negative thing or person. The next time someone asks you about leaving the position, you can honestly say, "I believe I got as much from that position as possible, my achievements speak for themselves. I'm now looking for a new challenge. This is what brings me to meet with you today".

A positive attitude will get you the job over someone with more experience. Don't allow yourself to be eliminated from the career of your dreams because you refuse to let go of your anger and emotional baggage. Someone else is normally responsible for making you feel badly about the position. You're the only one who can see the situation for what it really is-that negative person has the problem, not you. You're gone now and they still have to deal with their negativity. The only way we continue to be negative is by making an active choice to do so. It takes a lot more muscles to frown than it does to smile so quit working so hard to be negative and relax and be positive. Be the positive force any employer would love to have on their staff-be you at your best, positively.


Donalyn Leskosek Spisak-Resume & Portfolio Writing Expert; Pharmaceutical Sales & Sales Management Recruiter; author of "How to Write Your Professional Portfolio", "Keeping Track of Interviews" & "Job Searching-What you Need to Know", Owner of http://www.recruitshop.com & http://www.pharmaceuticalsalesprep.com, trainer and motivational speaker. Phone: 724.831-0549.