A client of mine wanted to reassure and encourage his adult daughter who was suffering from the emotional trauma and financial hardship of being laid off from her job. He wanted tactfully to remind her that loosing one’s job is not a recent phenomena, nor is it a situation that will last forever despite her current forebodings. He wrote her a letter, thus summarized:
Situation: Twenty-five years ago, the CEO announced a “reduction in force.” Mr. Dad, a senior executive, was part of it. Suddenly unemployment was real. There was an emergency fund and a supportive wife who immediately sought full time employment. But there also was a family of four (and a dog) to support including two college funds.
The first steps: Mr. Dad filed for unemployment right away putting aside a lifelong aversion to talking “welfare.” After all, he had paid unemployment insurance out of his salary for years; now it was time to make a claim. Health insurance could be continued through COBRA, which at that time cost 103% of the combined employer/employee contributions. Contingent medical care for the family was essential so COBRA it was.
The process: In those days to collect unemployment, one had to volunteer at the county office each week in addition to submitting a list outlining job search efforts. The volunteer time became meet new people time and learn new things time. Networking became central to the job search effort. Talking to people face to face was more important than mailing resumes (no widespread use of the Internet then). Many took advantage of the down time to learn new skills through formal education; many more volunteered at local nonprofits, again more opportunities to network with interesting people.
Home office: At home Mr. Dad put on his business clothes early every morning and went to his “office,” an idle bedroom now equipped with a desk, some files, and a telephone. The work environment is very important as is your dress and your attitude. The goal now was to find a job; that was his job. He worked hard at his job for a long time.
Stress: Job loss and the effort to find a new one is very stressful. Mr. Dad kept his family advised of developments and encouraged a team effort with everyone supporting everyone else. Exercise was written into the daily schedule; diet was carefully managed.
What happened? After 6-7 months Mr. Dad started his own business (lesson to his daughter: you will find a job eventually). This career decision provided many additional opportunities (lesson to his daughter: getting laid off will eventually be a good thing in your life). Don’t get discouraged (lesson to his daughter: keep you chin up, work hard at finding something, and everything will work out).