June 29, 2023

6 tips for coping with job loss

By Kristen Mayne

Getting laid off can be an overwhelming experience. Knowing what steps you can take after can help you manage stress and set you up for success.

Whether you’ve been laid off, forced to take early retirement or had your contract end, losing a job is one of life’s most stressful experiences. 

With tech layoffs continuing to make headlines in Canada, thousands of Canadian workers are dealing with job loss. According to Layoffs.FYI – an online database cataloguing cuts around the world – over 200,000 tech workers lost their jobs across 763 firms as of the start of June, 2023.

For Andrew Dowd of Toronto, it’s  the fourth time he’s been laid off in his career in tech sales. “It’s never easy when you get the news. I had some indications it was coming. There’d been a first wave of layoffs. I know they happen in waves – it’s never just one. But I think no one expects it if they’re doing well in their job."

Job loss can cause deep feelings of stress, as well as anxiety and fear. Knowing what steps you can take after a job loss can help you handle the situation and set you up for success.

Tips for coping with job loss

1. Give yourself time to adjust and grieve

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), grief is a natural response to loss. And that includes the loss of a job. As well as the loss of income, being out of work comes with other losses, which are also difficult to face:

  • Your self-esteem and confidence.
  • A feeling of control in your life.
  • Your identity.
  • A daily routine.
  • Your co-workers and team.
  • You and your family’s sense of security.

Grief brings up lots of difficult emotions. You might feel sad, angry, depressed, fearful or hopeless. Your sleep and appetite may be affected. It’s normal to feel all these things.

As you navigate your journey, CMHA offers these tips to help you process your grief:

  • Acknowledge your feelings and write them down.  
  • Seek out healthy ways to express your feelings, such as creating art or walking with a friend.  
  • Give yourself time to take care of your well-being. 
  • Know that the feelings of grief will pass. 

Dowd shares that the first week after his most recent layoff was the most difficult. “You’re working through so many emotions and it’s hard not to dwell on things. But it wasn’t because of a performance issue, it was a business decision. It’s just too bad that you’re a part of it.”

2. Reach out for support

Losing a job can feel isolating and may bring up feelings of doubt in your talent and abilities. It’s important to reach out to friends and family for support. Share how you’re feeling and learn how other people have dealt with job loss. 

Getting support from his wife and family members was key for Dowd. “Your self-confidence really takes a hit. So having that support is important. It’s also been tremendously helpful for me to look for small wins and build on those. They can be professional and personal. For example, right now I’m getting to spend more time with my kids and I’m helping my son improve his reading. That feels great.”

Staying socially connected has also helped Dowd keep a positive state of mind. “I like having sounding boards and hearing other people’s thoughts and ideas. I talk with friends and old colleagues about everything – work, life, kids, pets. Positive things come from honest conversations.”

It can also be helpful to speak to a mental health professional.  Use Lumino Health to find a mental health provider near you. Or you can access free 24/7 support through Wellness Together Canada

3. Review your finances and personal situation

Revisit your financial plan, skill set, family circumstances and career goals, suggests Dennis Hobbs. He is the Vice-President, Client Services at Eisen Consulting Group. His organization offers career transition support to those who have recently found themselves out of work. 

“See how big your “window” is. Ask yourself how long you can be off work before it affects your lifestyle. Taking control of your affairs will put you in the right frame of mind to move forward.”

Until you’re ready and have the opportunity to work again, apply for Employee Insurance (EI) benefits. EI provides regular benefits to Canadians who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. You can apply as soon as you stop working. Visit the Government of Canada’s EI page for more information.

4. Identify what’s important to you in a new job

Now’s a great time to evaluate your career path, says Hobbs. “If your previous position had aspects you didn’t enjoy, make a list of the elements of your ideal job.” For example, maybe having flexible work hours is important to your family life. Or you want a position that pushes you to learn new skills. Create a list of what’s most essential for you.

As you look through job postings, pay attention to the qualifications. Then ask yourself if your current resume qualifies or if you’ll need to upgrade your skills with additional training.

You may not have time or funds to take a college or online courses right away. But you can take small steps by researching your field to find out:

  • what job skills employers are looking for,
  • which skills are required and
  • which ones add value to a company or organization.

For Dowd, being laid off for the fourth time has him considering a career change. “I’ve updated my resume and am applying for jobs. But this time is different because there are so many people in our sector getting laid off. So now’s the time to get creative and explore other avenues. I know it will fall into place. It’s just a matter of time and focus. And also a little bit of luck”

5. Reconnect with old friends and make new ones

Reach out to your network and let them know you’re looking for a new opportunity, suggests Hobbs. Many people are often willing to help, especially if they’ve been through a similar situation. This could come in the form of introductions to hiring managers or recruiters, a reference or letting you know about relevant positions. 

Join professional organizations or attend networking events. This can help you make new connections and stay up-to-date with what’s happening in your industry.

6. Apply for new opportunities

Once you’ve identified the qualities for the position you’re interested in, it’s easier to narrow your job search. Create a job search plan by setting a number of hours a day or week you want to spend looking for employment. Applying for jobs can be time-consuming, so having a schedule can help prevent you from feeling overwhelmed. 

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