Archive for Monday, July 25, 2005

Realizing true reason for layoff will help self-esteem, job search

July 25, 2005


Dear Kate & Dale: I left my secure position as manager of a printing company (I have more than 26 years in the industry) and moved cross-country to take a new job. Eighty-nine days into my new job, I was let go! According to the owners, I was not a fit. I think they just couldn't afford me. We moved back home, and I landed a job. Five weeks into that job, I was let go! I've been unemployed for three months, and the stress is getting to me. Time is money, and both are running thin. - Brian

Kate: One of the biggest problems with repeated job searches is that you start to wonder: "Why me? Why now?" Whenever I get that feeling, I remember what my mother used to tell me - yours probably did, too - "Everything happens for the best." If you believe that things happen for a purpose, you can look for the good in your situation. The last time I was unemployed, I experienced a closeness with my father that has lasted ever since. What will it be for you? If you can't see the advantage now, at least believe that you will, once you emerge from your search.

Dale: The most useless question in the universe is "Why me?" while the most useful is "What can I learn?" And that's the question you need to answer, Brian. What concerns me is that you were "let go" by two companies. Maybe this was incredibly bad luck, but maybe there's a big lesson awaiting you. When you settle on a rationale like "They couldn't afford me," you have shut your mind to learning. In fact, the most common problem for an old pro like yourself is to have stopped learning, stopped improving. Speaking of which, you need to talk to some peers or employees at those two companies and see if you can figure out what you need to do differently. If you can't bring yourself to ask, then you're going to be stuck for a long time.

Kate: Going forward, you're at a difficult time in any job search: Three months is when you can get caught up in a downward spiral where discouragement leads to inactivity, which leads to depression. You combat that spiral by making yourself do your job, which is looking for work. Set goals for how many people you'll talk to or meet with each day or week. Don't think of whether or not you want to make calls and write letters. Of course you don't. Do your job, which means doing them anyway.

Dale: If you think of the search as making new friends and better understanding yourself and your industry, you'll be one of those people who can look back and say: "Now I get it. Now I know the purpose of losing those two jobs, and I am a better man for it."

Kate Wendleton is the founder of The Five O'Clock Club . Dale Dauten is the founder of The Innovators' Lab.


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