Laid off and bummed out

John Heckers //July 27, 2010//

Laid off and bummed out

John Heckers //July 27, 2010//

There is no question that it is ugly out there if you’ve been laid off. There is also no question that your life has dramatically changed. And this can lead to some very real “laid off” depression. Here are a few steps to deal with this very real, and often debilitating, depression.

1. Recognize that you’re not alone. This may not help at 2 AM when you’re second-guessing what you did in your career, or worrying about the mortgage. Find a friend or spiritual advisor to call and talk with.

2. Concentrate on what you did right. Even if you did something that resulted in your termination, you didn’t do everything wrong. Executives who get depressed can often begin to “globalize,” and believe that they did everything wrong. This leads to more depression. Look, instead, at what you did right. Making lists of this can also help in the interview.

3. Utilize your contacts. You, as an executive, have more contacts than you might think. Write down all of your contacts and begin to contact them. This is what “contacts” are for.

4. Talk to everyone all the time. While this is hard for introverts, it also will keep away the blues. Get out and interact with people. Don’t sit around the house and stare at the computer all day every day. While “computer days” are essential, most of the time you should be out there interacting.

5. Develop your spirituality. If you have a spiritual side, now is the time to develop it. Talk to your spiritual leader about how you can constructively spend a small bit of the time you have off in growing spiritually.

6. Develop an attitude of gratitude for everything. Study after study has shown that people who are operating in an attitude of gratitude have a much greater life-span, a dramatically lowered risk of heart attack, lower blood pressure and so on. It is much harder to be depressed when you start the day with gratitude for all of the wonderful gifts you’ve been given, and end the day the same way.

7. Honestly evaluate yourself. You’re going to have to do this anyway when you’re interviewing. Honestly evaluate what you did right and what you did wrong in your last employment. Think about how you will do better in the future. Replay situations where you were arrogant, rude, impolite, incompetent, and so on, but replace the “bad” you with a “good” you. Visioning this way will assist you in doing better in the future.

8. Begin to think “out of the box.” Now would be a good time to look at new paradigms and ways of thinking, since it is clear that your old way didn’t work all that well. Start to think of how you might have come up with “out of the box” solutions to various business problems you have had. Doing this will give you confidence for the future, as well as hone your skills at decision making.

9. Give up your anger. I know that things didn’t happen in fairness. But then, they never do. Life is not fair. Get over your anger before interviewing or you will not get a job. Your anger is more evident than you think. Employers do not hire people who are already angry before walking in the door.

10. Be prepared to deal with some pettiness. People who are interviewing may make you want to jump through hoops. Don’t let this get you down. People are petty. It is their problem, not yours, even though it may keep you from a job. Feel sorry for their spouses for having to put up with them!

11. Put your ego on hold. Maybe, even though you had the top chair, it wasn’t for you. Or maybe a top chair is for you, but not in a large city. Maybe you could use some more mentoring in your career. If your last two months of searching haven’t been successful – find out why. Sometimes difficult experiences like a lay-off or discharge can be a wake up call. Maybe you were on the wrong track and fate has stepped in to help you switch railroads. Ask the hard questions again and again, and get assistance if you don’t know the answers.

These tips will help keep your chin up as you go through your transition. Just remember this time when you’re on the other side of this process and help others, as well.

This is an edited excerpt from the book In Transition: Rapidly Finding Your Next Executive Job (Even in Difficult Times) by John Heckers. It is available as part of a package at
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