Got Issues?

By Chandra Orr

May 1, 2009 5 min read


Being laid off makes it difficult to get back up

Chandra Orr

Creators News Service

Don't let downsizing get you down. It's natural to feel depressed, angry, confused and even embarrassed.

But the sooner you work through your feelings, the sooner you'll be back on top at a new job -- possibly a new career.

Keep in mind that almost everyone will be fired or laid off at some point in their career, with the recent mass layoffs a sad sign of the current economic climate. But those that are able to regain their self-confidence and put the situation in perspective will come out ahead.

"Downsizing is just another word for restructuring and in no way reflects on someone's abilities or skills," said Amy Dorn Kopelan, co-author of "I Didn't See It Coming: The Only Book You'll Ever Need to Avoid Being Blindsided in Business" ($25, Wiley) and one of the driving forces behind The Guru Nation, a network for job seekers.

In other words, don't take it personally.

"In every downsizing we see, the organization is making a business decision, not a people decision," she explained. "If you are asked to leave the company, it is their loss and not yours."

So brush that chip off your shoulder and turn the experience into a positive opportunity for growth, learning and self-reflection.


Instead of focusing on what went wrong, take some time to reflect on what you did right.

Make a list of your marketable skills and accomplishments. It'll come in handy when it's time to craft a new resume, and you'll be able to see, in black and white, the positive impact you've had over the course of your career.

"Take a moment to list the real assets you have and make an effort to identify the kind of work you could be doing where more of you actually shows up," Kopelan said.

Refer to your list when you're feeling down and use that list as a jumping off point for the next phase of your career. Maybe now is the time to make that move you've been dreaming about.

"Remember that you are a unique personality with special skills needed in the workplace," Kopelan said. "The challenge is to find out where that is and not sell yourself short."


Don't think of downsizing as losing a job. Think of it as gaining the opportunity to get out of a rut and experiment with a new line of work. Take a class, become a volunteer or work with a mentor to learn new employment skills.

A proactive approach is a great coping mechanism, and whether you plan to stay the course or you're looking for a major career change, additional training never hurts.

"Downsizing is a negative in that your income is halted, but it does not mean you have lost your talent or ability to contribute in a meaningful way," Kopelan said. "Today, careers are constructed on lattices, not ladders.

"If you look at it as a negative experience you are doing yourself a huge injustice -- and you just may block the next great career opportunity."


With unemployment and uncertainty come depression and anxiety. It's common and quite natural, but it is important to fight those feelings so you can move ahead.

To address the growing problem of economic-related depression, the U.S. government has released "Getting Through Tough Economic Times," an online guide to coping with the stress of the nation's current crisis. Think of it as a stimulus plan for your mental health.

According to the website, "Economic turmoil can result in a whole host of negative health effects -- both physical and mental. It can be particularly devastating to your emotional and mental well-being. Acknowledge that economic downturns can be frightening to everyone, but that there are ways of getting through them."

The guidelines, produced by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, emphasize the importance of stress-relieving activities.

To help manage the stress, SAMHSA suggests spending more time with family and friends, rediscovering hobbies, engaging in regular exercise and keeping your mind active by taking a class or learning new skills. For more practical advice, visit

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