• Clarify goals – Although you may have an urge to get your resume out right away, take a little time to process your job loss and decide what you really want for your next steps.
  • Wait before networking – You may also feel an urgency to ask everyone you know if they know of any jobs.  If you take a little time to absorb the loss and clarify your goals, your contact will be better able to help you and you will come across clearer and more positive.
  • Tell a trusted few first – Don’t keep this from important people in your life.  Procrastinating on sharing the news will only be harder on you.  Plus you could use the support right now!  You also don’t want to indiscriminately tell everyone you see since your feelings may be too raw or you may not have a comfortable way of explaining the job loss figured out yet.
  • Apply for Unemployment Compensation – You have been contributing to this system, and this is what it is there for.  Apply on the first day after your last day of working.
  • Apply for COBRA or other health insurance – Be sure to take care of yourself and your family if you have one.
  • Review finances – This might include reviewing your retirement plan or making a budget once you know your severance package and unemployment compensation.  It might be anxiety-producing to deal with the topic of money at this point, but it is better to know where you stand than not know.  You may even be able to plan for taking some time off for retraining, healing, or figuring out career goals.
  • Organize a personal office space – Create a space in your home for your career transition paperwork and activities.  You may want to reorganize the existing desk space, set up filing bins or purchase a computer.
  • Keep a calendar – Although you will have a huge change in routine, you will still be having activities to keep track of.  Initially it may be more personal, but eventually you will be keeping track of networking appointments and interviews or setting goals on your calendar.
  • Stay connected with friends and colleagues – Eventually you will want to tell most friends, family and colleagues so you can get support and perhaps networking contacts.  Be sure not to isolate yourself.

Don’t wait too long – Taking a few days or weeks off after termination can be a reasonable choice if your circumstances allow for it, but waiting too long can increase

© 2008-2020, Karen Litzinger, Pittsburgh PA. Section from outplacement services Career Transition Workbook. All rights reserved. Permission given to reprint or share only in its entirety with this complete by-line and contact information: Litzinger Career Consulting, www.KarensCareerCoaching.comkaren@KarensCareerCoaching.com, 412-977-4029. For alternative use permission, please contact the author.

Whether you knew the termination was coming or were caught completely by surprise, there are a wide range of emotions you may feel.  Some people feel strong anxiety and anger about the termination or how it was handled.  Others may feel a sense of relief, either because it was not a good job fit anyhow or because the process leading up to the termination dragged on.

There is no right or wrong way to feel, but understanding and expressing your emotions in a healthy manner is necessary in helping you move forward.  Whether you are devastated or see it as an opportunity for new beginnings, it is still a job loss.  Even losing your daily routine or a family of coworkers are parts of the loss.  In our culture, people are often identified with career roles.  Upon meeting someone new, aren’t you often asked “What do you do?”  Not knowing what to say is part of the loss.

There are various theories of loss, but most originate from the work of psychologist, Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, and her book, On Death and Dying.  Although the original work focused on stages of loss, it is more helpful to look at these as possible areas of emotions that you may move back and forth through.  Here are some brief descriptions to help you understand and cope with these emotions.

  • Shock – You may have felt this as you were being told the news.  This can include the feeling of being numb and not even completely hearing or comprehending the conversation.
  • Denial – This includes being unsure that you understood the termination completely, or doing activities that include anything but moving forward on one’s job search.
  • Bargaining – This stage can include conversations or an expectation related to your employer changing its mind or calling you back in a different capacity.
  • Anger – This can be about the fact of losing your job or how it was handled.  Your angry feelings may be toward the company or toward specific individuals at the company.  You may even feel anger toward yourself in not anticipating the termination or being more prepared for a job move.  Find safe ways to express your anger, such as physical exercise or keeping a journal.
  • Anxiety – This is a common emotion associated with concern of financially being able to provide for oneself or one’s family.  You may also have anxiety about being able to actually find another job.  Taking action is important at this stage, so you don’t become paralyzed with fear.
  • Depression – This can occur when the full realization of the loss has set in.  Although it is common to have the “blues” sometime after a job loss, if there is chronic or recurrent low energy, loss of appetite or overeating, or disturbed sleep, this level of depression could indicate a need for professional treatment. Taking care of oneself is essential in this stage.
  • Testing – This involves trying out options or actions whether exploring a new career field or moving forward on the job search.
  • Acceptance – This is the point at which one finds a way to move forward, focusing on the future and not the past, ideally with a sense of hope.

© 2008-2020, Karen Litzinger, Pittsburgh PA. Section from outplacement services Career Transition Workbook. All rights reserved. Permission given to reprint or share only in its entirety with this complete by-line and contact information: Litzinger Career Consulting, www.KarensCareerCoaching.com, karen@KarensCareerCoaching.com, 412-977-4029. For alternative use permission, please contact the author.

I wait and wonder

               For those who are furloughed

               Will I go back? Should I look?

               How I ache for the familiar that I took for granted

               Even the parts I hated.

I wait and wonder

               For those whose jobs may be insecure

               Am I next?

               In the meantime, I feel guilty as a survivor

               Even if I don’t like my job.

I wait and wonder

               For those whose jobs have ended

               What can I find in these turbulent times?

               I’m not sure where I fit and what to do.

               Even if I’m motivated.

I wait and wonder

               For those who have been unhappy

               How can I change now?

               Maybe I better just hang on

               Even if I’m beyond ready.

I wait and wonder

               For those who are happily employed.

               How can I process this turmoil?

               I feel privileged as well as overworked

               Even as I feel grateful.   

I wait and wonder

               For those essential workers on the front line

               How long can I do this?

               It is taking its toll

               Even as I know it is important work.

I wait and wonder

               For those who own small businesses

               Will I need to close my doors?

               I can’t bear to face lost dreams and lost faces

               Even if I worked more than I wanted.

I wait and wonder

               For those working at home with children

               How can I do justice to both jobs?

               I feel like I’m not doing enough

               Even when I’m doing my best.

Rise up to self-awareness and self-care.

Rise up to learning and loving

Rise up to hope and help

Rise up to compassion and courage

               You are not alone.


By Karen Litzinger, Pittsburgh, PA, 2020, Litzinger Career Consulting, www.KarensCareerCoaching.com

Permission granted for reprinting with this byline.

Life has been turned upside down, crashing down the last weeks with the progression of the coronavirus, COVID-19. With states of emergency and businesses temporarily closed, the Department of Labor reported last week that 3.3 million people applied for unemployment in the past week, five times the all time high in 1982. The $2 trillion stimulus package will eventually give some relief to the unemployed and business community and it’s hard to keep up and know when resources will be coming.

With all that is going on, I would like to share some relevant resources to help you navigate these turbulent waters.

Don’t Quarantine Your Career: 7 Career Tips in COVID Times, my latest blog post: http://karenscareercoaching.com/2020/04/dont-quarantine-your-career-7-career-tips-in-covid-times/

Career Advice in a Quarantine podcast where I was a panelist: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6648289819447349248/

KDKA Radio Interview and Tips from March 27 (go in 30 seconds): https://kdkaradio.radio.com/media/audio-channel/karen-litzinger-jobs-specialist

Fortune article from March 27 about unemployment benefits from the stimulus rescue package: https://fortune.com/2020/03/27/coronavirus-unemployment-benefits-stimulus-package-who-eligible-when-start-how-much-long-faq-relief-bill/

Partner4Work, the region’s major workforce development organization (scroll to Job Seekers): https://www.partner4work.org/news/covid-19-resources/