How to Cope with a Job Loss, with Marsha Warner

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Transcript

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want and make a difference in life. I’m Mac Prichard, your host and publisher of Mac’s List. I’m joined by my co-host, Ben Forstag, managing director of Mac’s List and Jenna Forstrom, our community manager. This week we’re talking about how to cope with a job loss. Our show is brought to you by our book, “Land Your Dream Job in Portland and Beyond.” To learn more about the new 2016 edition, visit macslist.org/book. During our recent five year period, 20% of the U.S. workforce, 30 million Americans and all were laid off by employers. Have you ever lost your job?

Maybe it was through no fault of your own or maybe you were fired for a cause, whatever the reason, a job loss can devastate both your pocket book and your psyche. This week on Find Your Dream Job we’re talking about what to do when you lose your job unexpectedly. I speak to Marsha Warner and she’s a career coach and she’ll tell us why you don’t want to send out applications on your first day of unemployment. Marsha will also take us through the steps anybody should follow after a layoff. Ben Forstag has found a website. It’s built especially for unemployed workers. It’s so good however, any job seeker will want to check it out. Jenna Forstrom has a question from you our listeners that she’s answer. Jenna, Ben, let me turn to you two. Have you ever lost a job unexpectedly?

Jenna Forstrom:

I lost a job a couple of years into my career. I was recruited to work in an agency after being at the standard and loss my job six months into it for conflicting interest.

Mac Prichard:

What was that like, Jenna? How did you cope with that?

Jenna Forstrom:

It was awkward because I wasn’t expecting it at all and I just went in to have a check in with my boss and HR was sitting there. They were like, “Today is your last day.” They walked me off the building premise and then I had to come back after 5 pm and collect all my stuff which is weird.

Mac Prichard:

What happened after that?

Jenna Forstrom:

I went to Chicago and hang out with some friends, Terry Starbucker being one of them. Then I did some freelance work at Nike.

Mac Prichard:

Okay, you did find a position eventually?

Jenna Forstrom:

Yeah, in four months.

Ben Forstag:

She’s working right now for us, man.

Jenna Forstrom:

I’m still working, gainfully employed.

Mac Prichard:

That’s good. How about you, Ben?

Ben Forstag:

I’ve never been fired or loss a job like that. I have quit a job rather unexpectedly where things have been going bad for a while but then there’s a real bad incident at the place I work and I just decided I couldn’t really sustainably work there anymore. With the blessing of my wife fortunately I quit the job with very little notice. Had about four months of unemployment after that.

Mac Prichard:

I have lost a job twice. I was laid off each time. Once I was working for an elected official and we have some budget cuts. It was unexpected. I had to go home and tell Kris, my wife that I lost my job and she actually thought I was joking when I first told her. That was a painful conversation. A long period of unemployment did follow but I did find another position. Then I also had a position at a state agency where mine was one of a handful of what are called executive service positions. We serve at the pleasure of the director. There was a change in leadership and we were invited to submit letters of resignation.

Like you Jenna, I too was offered an escort to the parking lot and I did have a co-worker who was very gracious who drove me and my box of things home. It’s a hard process to go through. We’re going to talk more about that today and it’s one I hope our listeners don’t have to go through but if you do, we want to make sure you’re prepared. Speaking of preparation, let’s turn to Ben who every week is out there scouring the internet looking for tools and resources you all can use. Ben, what have you found for us this week? What’s our resource for the week?

Ben Forstag:

This week I want to talk to you about a website I found that’s provided by the U.S. Department of Labor and it’s completely built around the needs of unemployed people looking for work. It’s called www.careeronestop.org. As the name would imply, it’s something about one stop shop for job seekers with an array of information and services. You can go to this website and get all kinds of things like career assessment tools and tests, education and training opportunities plus ways to pay for those training opportunities because that’s a piece that’s often ignored. Links to free job assistance services in your own community, an online job board, career development tools, occupational profiles, employment guides catered around specific industries and a lot of other things. It’s pretty cool site.

Mac Prichard:

Tell us, Ben, what makes this website geared specifically towards the people who are unemployed?

Ben Forstag:

I think there’s two specific resources on careeronestop.org that I think are particularly useful. The first is they provide customized resources based around your specific situation. When you go there, one of the screens says, “Pick the resources that most fit your situation.” They have things like people switching careers. People who have been recently laid off. Older workers, veterans workers with disabilities. Entry level workers and people with criminal convictions. There’s customized resources there for every type of person. The other thing that I think is really good about this site is that it has a great guide for making an unemployment claim. Unemployment benefits could be really, really hard to understand even thought funding for unemployment insurance usually comes from the federal government and your former employer if they pay a payroll text on that. Each state has its own unique rules for who qualifies for benefits. This site really provide some clarity around how you get benefits in your state.

Mac Prichard:

That can be very helpful. I think many people don’t know especially the first time they collect unemployment benefits that your benefit is subject to income tax both at the state and federal level. One thing you’ll want to do if you do claim and I’ve claimed twice now and made it to the end of each benefit period is set aside money for your federal and state income tax because you are liable for that.

Ben Forstag:

I know in Oregon when you sign up for unemployment benefits, you can actually have them withhold the tax amount for the state but they don’t withhold federal taxes. You’re going to have to pay on that income one way or another. Good tip there, Mac. Check out this website it’s really great resource. I was really impressed. Again it’s called careeronestop.org. As always we’ll have the link in the show notes.

Mac Prichard:

Thank you, Ben. If you have a suggestion for Ben you can write him and his email address is easy to remember. It’s ben@macslist.org. Let us hear from you and we may share your idea on the show. Now, let’s turn to you our listeners and Jenna is here to answer one of your questions. Jenna, what did you find in the Mac’s List mail this week?

Jenna Forstrom:

Today’s question comes from Jonathan Chambers. He asks, “How do I transition from being an entrepreneur to more 9 to 5 employee?” I think this is a great question. I would start by networking which is something we always talk about here at Mac’s List, the 80-20 rule that 80% of jobs aren’t posted on job boards. Just have him reach out to his current clients and maybe if he’s doing freelance work as an entrepreneur with a larger brand, just reaching out to whoever he’s contacted with. Explain the situation. I’m not going to make assumptions on why he’s looking for a 9 to 5 job but maybe he’s getting married or he’s having a child or he’s moving to a new location.

Just explain that story as, “I’m looking for more job security. Do you guys have any positions open now,” or, “I’ve checked out your website and I see a position that I think I’d be a good fit, do you know who the hiring manager is?” Just do that slowly rolling out networking to help grow your base and then just applying for jobs like everyone else but talk about your skill sets because if you’re an entrepreneur you’re good at creative things, you’re good at managing your time well, hopefully. Managing a budget, growing a business, that stuff. It’s all translatable from being an entrepreneur to a corporate job. Mac, Ben, do you guys have any tips?

Mac Prichard:

I think one concern an employer might have is how would somebody feel about having a boss again after having been self-employed. I would encourage anybody who wants to go back into a business or non-profit organization for a staff job to think about that and find a way to address that up front. I think you’re right. We don’t know what his circumstances might be. It may be that he just needs a steady pay check for a period of time or the experiences taught him that he prefers to work for others rather than to be self-employed. Whatever the story might be, he should think about it in advance and find an opportunity to share it.

Ben Forstag:

I think it’s all about transferable skill sets. If you’ve been running your own business essentially you are extensively have a lot of skills in time management, in project management, in financial matters, and think about how you can frame those experiences around the needs of perspective employers. I think a lot of employers would value that. I do think Mac’s point about overcoming that barrier about why exactly do you want to work for someone else and have a boss again that’s something you’re going to need to think about but the skill set definitely should be there.

Jenna Forstrom:

Thanks, guys.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, you’re welcome. Great question, Jenna. Thank you Jonathan for asking that question and if you have a question for Jenna, please email her. Her email is easy to remember too. It’s J-E-N-N-A jenna@macslist.org. Now, the segments with Ben and Jenna are sponsored by the 2016 edition of Land Your Dream Job in Portland and Beyond. We have a new book and we’ve made it even better. We’ve added new content and we now offer it in the formats that you want. For the first time you can read Land Your Dream Job in Portland and Beyond as a paperback or you can download it on your Kindle, your Nook, or your iPad. Whatever the format, our book gives you the tools and tips you need to get meaningful work.

Work that you can love, work that can make a difference. For more information, visit macslist.org/book. Now, let’s turn to this week’s guest expert, Marsha Warner. Marsha is the owner of Career Factors. She’s a coach, resume writer and recruiter. Her clients range from college students to senior executives. Marsha is also a popular educator and speaker at career events and she’s a frequent contributor to career blogs and podcast. Marsha, thanks for coming into the Mac’s List studio.

Marsha Warner:

Thank you for asking me. It’s a pleasure.

Mac Prichard:

Our topic today is how to cope with a sudden job loss. I think many people once they get home they think the first thing they should do is sit down and start sending out job applications. Marsha, why isn’t that a good idea?

Marsha Warner:

There’s a number of reasons that that’s not a good idea. I don’t advice it but one of them is is that usually there’s an emotional reaction to a sudden job loss. Often times it’s experiencing shock, anger, very often a roller coaster of emotions. Thrilled to be out of there, sprouted wings and flew away and then a minute later I’m angry and upset. Until we get those emotions equalized it’s not a good idea to start reaching out and starting that marketing process.

Mac Prichard:

Okay, when you think about managing those emotions, what are our techniques that you see in the clients you’ve worked with use successfully?

Marsha Warner:

One of the things I advice is just take a moment and breathe. A colleague of mine always says, “Just breathe.” That might take a couple of days to breathe but come back to center. That’s one of the first things. Then, it take some time to experience the emotions that are there and to talk a little about it if you need to reach out to a friend or a career coach or a counselor, a colleague or someone in your family, talk about it. Treat these emotions as what they are. Expected and understandable and when we just suffered a loss we often go through the same roller coaster of emotions that we do when we suffer a lost of any kind. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross talked about adjusting to a sudden death and this is not unlike that at all. Same pattern. We know from her work that we come to recognition and acceptance at a certain point but it takes a while to go through some of those emotions. Time off in times.

Mac Prichard:

Do you find there’s a typical length of time that people have to go through this process of managing their emotions and accepting the loss?

Marsha Warner:

I don’t find that there’s a typical length of time but I find that it’s typical that we have them.

Mac Prichard:

In the meantime, what do you recommend people say to others about what has happened? What’s the best way to describe both the loss of the job and your job search?

Marsha Warner:

I do suggest that people have a prepared statement, authentic, genuine but then we tell our story in the way that we want to tell it that we describe what happened in a way that’s truthful but that I have pulled together the thoughts and words that I want to use to describe my journey. That can be a three sentence statement. Oftentimes if I’m part of a overall layoff I can describe the fact that a number of positions with my organization have been eliminated due to whatever circumstances and my position with among them. Then second sentence I suggest is that one that moves us forward, i.e. saying something like, “This gives me an opportunity to look at organizations like yours who are offering this kind of opportunity, this kind of need for expertise that I bring,” that kind of thing. It moves us forward and doesn’t just leave us in the heavy, “Yeah, I just got laid off,” feeling but moves us forward into a positive next career step.

Mac Prichard:

I know there’s some listeners who’ve been through layoff but there are others who’ve been fired for cause or dismissed. Do you suggest a different strategy for talking about how to talk about that departure for people who may have been fired for cause?

Marsha Warner:

Fired for cause, that’s oftentimes a legal situation. So many of us have managers that we don’t get along with just because someone manages doesn’t mean that they’re easy to work for or easy to work with. Lots of things happen, political crossfire happens. I’ve been caught in political crossfire where our whole department was replaced as a result of regime change at the top. Those things happen. If I’ve been fired, we want to put the best possible spin on it while still being truthful. If someone says in an interview for instance, “What happened with your last job?” “I was fired.” Saying something like, “I took this job and it wasn’t a good fit for me. I realized that after a while when things started to look like I wasn’t fitting in the way I wanted to so we mutually agreed that I would leave,” or that kind of thing.

Mac Prichard:

Now, what about the people around you, Marsha? You’re going through a process where you’re managing your emotions, you’re coping with this loss, you’re telling people that you’re looking and what happened but none of us were living on an island. We have family members and others who are affected by this loss. How do you suggest that people both help and support the people around them as you go through this?

Marsha Warner:

I think one of the things that is sometimes people overlook is that the people that you’re closest to, your immediate family, they identify with your profession and with your organization as well. It’s a loss for them as well. They feel on your behalf. Their empathy and caring for you comes in to play here. Sometimes that’s hard for people to recognize. They don’t realize that others are feeling, people feeling closest to me are feeling on my behalf. There’s many situations that I’ve encountered where people didn’t tell their closest family, didn’t tell their children, didn’t tell their spouse.

Kept up the appearance, has got up, left the house, sat in a coffee shop and at the library and then the park all day and came home at the end of the day. I do not suggest that. I coach people to live in authentic, truthful life that is genuine and values driven. People that are close to us know that there’s going to be some good times and bad times and having a frank discussion about what happened and putting together a family plan from that is part of the support that we need to draw upon.

Mac Prichard:

When do you recommend that people begin that search? State that again. Let’s say that people are ready to start, how should people begin their search?

Marsha Warner:

How do you know when you’re ready to start is one question.

Mac Prichard:

How do you know, Marsha? What signs should our listeners look for?

Marsha Warner:

One easy sign to know is if I don’t cry about it. When i’ve been in recruiting position or talent acquisition position, I’ve had interviewees who come in and as soon as I say, “So, what happened in your last position? How do you happen to be looking for a job?” They burst into tears. One sure sign we know we’re ready is when we’re not crying about it. In other words, I have a perspective and how do you get perspective? Maybe take some time off. Take a week, take two weeks. Take some time to find yourself under the sun again so to speak, to put it in perspective and as well as give some distance.

One of the things that is distant when I start talking about me and I, not us and we. We did this as supposed to I. That tells me we have some emotional distance now. When I’m coaching people I hear that point a few weeks in when my client start to talk about I rather than we as a company. There is that point at which I feel like I am an individual in and of myself and ready to start on my new bright path. Those are some of the things that I listen for, just the verbal terms that I use. Having disclose and discuss with family and people close to me what the situation is.

Maybe visiting with my financial advisor, my accountant, my 401K advisor so that I know I have a path forward for myself including financial understanding of what do I need to do and how do I need to do it. All of those things I think are well in place before I start looking. I’ve had clients who as soon as they hear that they’ve been laid off they go to the car. From the car they start dialing and saying, “Oh my gosh, I just lost my job. You’ve got to help me find something.” That is not what we advice at all, what I advice at all. Take that time.

Mac Prichard:

Okay, take time, accept the fact that this is a big change. It brings with it emotional loss and the fact that it’s not only you but your family and your close friends. You need to manage and deal with that but then get out there and when you talk about what happened, keep it positive and immediately talk about your goals and what you want to do next.

Marsha Warner:

Exactly. Another, taking some time to do an assessment. Department of Labor Statistics tells us that we’re going to have about six jobs from the time we are about 30 years old to 55. We will have about six jobs. This is going to happen a time or two or six. Having overall career trajectory, overall plan, knowing that this could be in transition more than once in my lifetime. I probably want to keep an active network. I probably want to keep my education current and forward thinking. I’m making some solid plans for myself in a longer career trajectory outside of my own immediate organization because that organization could easily change. In fact it probably will.

We’ll probably have those six jobs. It also, another statistic tells us that most jobs median is about five years. Every five years we could be in a transitional point. Do I have an overall plan in mind and over all trajectory? Do I know where I want to head myself? That’s taking accountability and responsibility from the inside of me, rather than letting my organization be the one that dictates what I do, how I do it, how I’m educated for it, et cetera. A part of this is proactive ownership of my own career.

Mac Prichard:

Okay, take track of your career so that you can manage these events when they happen or avoid them altogether by moving on to new opportunities before they happen.

Marsha Warner:

Absolutely. I have clients who I sit with and I talk to them about these issues and they say, “I just never thought of that. I need this. I just went to work everyday, did what they told me, and came home.” Taking that approach to my career can leave us then when something happens, when the worst happens and I part company, our career doesn’t end but we part company with our organization. If I have no plan, no thoughts. I haven’t furthered my education. It leaves us pretty directionless.

Mac Prichard:

We need to start wrapping up, Marsha. I know our listeners may be wondering, you’ve worked with so many people have gone through this process. Is there one thing you’ve seen your clients do or the people you worked with do after a sudden job loss that has helped them not only get the next gig sooner than others but also get the right position?

Marsha Warner:

There’s a number of things that I’ve seen rather than one. One is keeping that larger perspective and that ownership that proactive ownership of this is my life, this is what I’m creating for myself not the thing outside of me. Them outside of me, the organization. It’s my own, I drive my own vehicle in this. That attitude then leaves one with so much more resiliency when something comes to a conclusion. The other thing is living in isolation in a career can leave us feeling bereft as well. Continuing to network, continue stay engaged and involved in career associations, in education and certifications, those kinds of things can give us some self assurance and resiliency so that when something happens I know that I have some resiliency and some reserves that I can take out in to my next position.

Mac Prichard:

Okay, don’t sit at home. Get out and connect with people. Not only after a job loss but well before it happens.

Marsha Warner:

Absolutely.

Mac Prichard:

Okay. Thank you, Marsha. I appreciate your advice here and I know our listeners will too. Thank you for coming into the studio.

Marsha Warner:

It’s such a pleasure to be here. Thank you for asking me again.

Mac Prichard:

I know listeners can find you at your website which is www.careerfactors.com. Is there anything coming up next for you that you’d like to share with our listeners?

Marsha Warner:

No, I’m just there waiting to work with next wonderful people that are drawn to work with me.

Mac Prichard:

Okay. Thank you and thanks again for joining us. We’re back in the Mac’s List studio with Ben and Jenna. Tell me you two, what were some of the most important points you heard Marsha make?

Ben Forstag:

I agree with Marsha that it’s important to take some time after an event like this happens because you’re mentally not in the right place to start looking for a new job the day after you lose your last job. I know that’s true for just about any traumatic experience that we have in our lives that you need to give yourself some time and some opportunity to grieve before you can move on and productively do the next step. Because if you try working too hard or you try too quickly to get back into the groove, you’re just going to set yourself up for failure I think.

Mac Prichard:

Jenna, what do you think?

Jenna Forstrom:

I really like your statement about after you’ve grieved having a prepared statement and stating a fact this is the situation and being authentic and truthful in that and that here’s how I want to move forward past it. I think that would be a really great thing to post on LinkedIn or Facebook or on Twitter, or in your website because it allows your friends and family and your current network to help you out because I think we talk about this all the time that we have friends that are unemployed and they are looking and you don’t know what you find out over coffee and you’re like, “I didn’t see that on Facebook,” they don’t want to share it because it’s a bad story but just stepping into that comfortableness and being like, “This is my situation. Here’s the facts. Help me out.” That gives people the opportunity to step in and help people out which is really key.

Mac Prichard:

It is. I think asking for help is just essential in your search. When you provide an explanation for what happened, it needs to be accurate and honest but it should also be brief and you just acknowledge why you left and what you want to do next and ask for people’s help in getting there. You’ll be very surprised I think in a very pleasant way how generous people are. Okay, thank you both. Thank you, our listeners for joining us. Thank you both and thank you our listeners for joining us for today’s episode of Find Your Dream Job. If you like what you hear, please sign up for our free weekly newsletter.

In each issue, we give you the key points for that week’s show. We also include links to all the resources mentioned and you get a transcript of the full episode. If you subscribe to the newsletter now, we’ll send you our job seeker check list in one easy to use file we show you all the steps you need to follow to find a great job. You can get your free newsletter and check list today just go to macslist.org/podcast. Join us next Wednesday for more tools and tips you can use to get the job you want. Our special guest will be Trina Isakson who will share with us her networking secrets for introverts. Until next time. Thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.

Losing your job–regardless of the reason why–can be a shock to the system. Even if you didn’t love it, losing your job suddenly can trigger a flood of emotions: upset, embarrassment, fear, and anxiety.

And when you’re dealing with these strong emotions, it’s almost impossible to start your search for a new job.

This week’s guest, career coach Marsha Warner, shares tips for managing your emotions in the first few days after a job loss.

If you find yourself in this situation Marsha advises:

  • Don’t start to market yourself for a new position immediately.
  • Take the necessary time to equalize your emotions.
  • Just breathe.
  • Be prepared to tell your story pragmatically and end it with a statement of moving forward.
  • Friends and family can serve as a much-needed support system.

Statistics from the Department of Labor anticipate each US worker will have six job changes from age 30 to age 55.  This is why you need to always have a high-level, personal career plan. Taking personal responsibility for your skill set and keeping a larger perspective empowers you whenever your might need to begin a new job search.

This Week’s Guest

Marsha Warner is a coach, resume writer, and recruiter. Her clients range from college students to senior executives. She is a popular educator and speaker at career events and a frequent contributor to career blogs and podcasts.

Resources from this Episode