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February 2010
Experience of a Job Loss
By Bill Crigger

     Many Americans have experienced job loss and being released from a job or know someone who has. For those who haven’t, you can try to watch the movie “Up in the Air” with George Clooney. The film gives a glimpse into peoples’ reactions to the news of their job loss. People react differently, as with most emotional situations. Some cry, others are quiet or non-responsive, still others get angry.

     The fact is that job loss is not a linear process. A person will go through different emotions at different times, and can even repeat some stages. The longer the job search, the more difficult the experience can be. Today, job searches are taking much longer than five years ago, or even two years ago. There are so many individuals in the job market that companies are looking for that “perfect” match…at the lowest possible rate of pay.

     A job loss candidate needs lots of positive support: spouse, family, friends, etc. Typically a job seeker’s worst enemy is his/herself. One of the biggest pitfalls he/she faces is poor organizational skills, lack of discipline and lack of accountability. A job seeker needs to be focused and develop a strategic long-term plan complete with weekly routine and benchmarks. This should include attending Job Search Support Groups, calling past and current contacts, getting some professional assistance where needed (resume development, help with job targeting, interview coaching, etc.). As part of job targeting, the job loss candidate should research companies as well as participate in some online job postings. Online job search is successful for only 10-12% of applicants, meaning that 88-90% of candidates find their jobs another way.

     As you have no doubt heard repeatedly, the REAL effective effort for a job search is NETWORKING. This word can cause some people to freeze in their tracks, but networking is simply “meeting people,” exchanging information and offering something of value. You ‘give’ before you ‘get’. It is NOT an interview. Job search candidates should make every effort to contact any lead and meet with others outside their own network. When meeting with someone new, use the experience to explore new industries or positions.

     Any job loss candidate may find him/herself having a bad day. When this happens, lying in bed is counter-productive. Instead, go out for a walk, have coffee with a friend, go see a “funny movie,” etc. Humor really is good medicine. If you know someone in a job loss, please do NOT ignore him/her. Even if you feel you don’t know what to say. Let them know you are thinking of them. Maybe introduce him/her to a new contact. With the extremely difficult job market, job search candidates needs friends, support, and encouragement.

     Bill Crigger is president of Compass Career Management Solutions, a career transition and human resource consulting firm. Contact him at or visit to learn more about crucial confrontational conversations.

Bill Crigger is president of Compass Career Management Solutions, a career transition and human resource consulting firm.
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