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If You Lose Your Job, Avoid These 3 Things


Written by: Paul Elsass

Back in 2008, right at the exact time the
economy collapsed, my career collapsed. I
found myself without a job…no warning, no
severance, and quite frankly, no good
As clearly as if it happened 5 minutes ago, I
remember sitting there with my mouth
gaping open, staring at the messenger of
this news, not knowing what to do…I was
literally paralyzed while my life flashed
before my eyes.
This was the first time in my professional
career anything like this had ever happened
to me. It was so startling to me! What made
it even more bizarre was that I was actually
crushing all the goals that had been given to
me in the job. How could this happen to
Over the next few weeks, after telling my
wife and kids what happened and realizing
how bad our financial situation was about
to get, I went through a rollercoaster of
emotions. From shock, terror and sadness,
to just downright pissed off! Not only was
this a terrible thing, but it was at a time in
our economy when no jobs were even
If you are, or ever have been in this
position, your anger is totally normal. If you
haven’t ever been through this, be prepared
for it anyway.
Here are 3 things you need to avoid after
you are fired or “laid off”:


Never Let Them See You Sweat (or
even turn red) – Each day I would
wake up at 5am and start scouring
the internet for jobs. I applied for
everything that could possibly work
and then some. My goal was to get
at least get 3 interviews per week,
but some weeks I was lucky to have
any. The prime window after you lose
your job is the first 2 months. You
will have many jobs you can apply
for, and thus a greater chance for
interviews. After several weeks of
applying and interviewing, I still
didn’t have a job offer and I found
out why. I was on the phone with a
recruiter one day. She was talking
with me about a position with a
company she represented. After
speaking with me for about 30
minutes she said, “Paul, let me tell
you something. First, I want you to
know that although I am a recruiter,
I do not work on behalf of the
candidates…rather, I work for the
employer. Thus, I have to protect the
employer from bad candidates. While
I like you and see a very solid
resume here, I can’t recommend
that they talk with you. The reason is
that when you told me about this
last position you were in, I could
hear all kinds of anger in your voice.
My advice to you, Paul, is that if you
want a job, you had better deal with
that anger and get past it. No one
will hire you if you cannot let it go.”
This advice from her was solid and
she was right. Employers do not want
angry employees and they can smell
anger a mile away. When you badly
need a job, you have to consider that
each time you get an interview, you
are being granted a chance to get
your life back on track. Do not blow
any of those chances, by talking
about how you were wronged.
Instead, talk about how you learned
from the experiences you had there
and how it made you grow (while
smiling the entire time). It’s not easy,
but it will make a world of a
difference. Yes, you were wronged!
Yes, it is horribly painful. No, you
cannot show it at all if you want a
job. Life goes on, C’est la vie…let it
go, my friend.


Don’t Try to Control The Weather –
There are things in this world that
you can control, such as what time
you get up, how many phone calls
you make or job applications you fill
out, and even which outfit you wear
to an interview. On the other hand,
there are many things you cannot
control and you have to stop trying
to do it anyway. Years ago I figured
this stress reduction trick out. You
see, I was walking around in a world
of complete and total anxiety. I was
a walking bundle of nerves. My brain
wouldn’t stop thinking about all of
these things I wanted to have
happen in a specific way and at a
specific time. One day, after feeling
extremely worn out, it dawned on
me…I said to myself, “Paul, you are
going to die a young man if you keep
thinking about so many stressful
things…focus on those things that
you have direct control over and let
the rest go!”. Yes, it would be
awesome if the employer you just
interviewed with yesterday would
make you a job offer today. It’s likely
not going to happen and more
importantly, it’s outside your powers.
Sure, it would be best if the lady
with 50 items in her grocery basket
wasn’t checking out in the “10 Items
or Less” line, but it’s too late, she is.
Dwelling on things that you cannot
control in this world will make your
hair fall out five times faster (trust
me, I have a receding hairline to
prove it) and it will do you no good.
Put your energy and mental focus
only into those things which you can
directly impact. That should be
enough to worry about.


Don’t Judge Yourself by Your Job!
(aka,Your Career Is Not What’s in
the Mirror) – Many years ago there
was a great skit on Saturday Night
Live, that I still use for therapy to
this day. Al Franken played the part
of Stuart Smalley. His character was
the main character in a fake TV show
called “Daily Affirmations with Stuart
Smalley”. In his self-help show, and
he was always starting the show by
looking in the mirror and saying, “I’m
good enough, I’m smart enough, and
doggone it, people like me”. After
losing your job, you will go through
many times where you feel alone
and small. If you have go and stand
in the unemployment line, it will be a
very humbling experience, to say the
least. There will likely be many jobs
that you are not offered. With all of
this in play, it is quite common to
feel like you have lost your mojo. You
really are good enough and smart
enough! You need to make sure that
you never mix who you are with
what you do for a living. When you
think of yourself, taking your career
out of the mix completely, you will
see that you are a good person who
is very talented and capable. Losing
your job never changed that . Take a
minute to remind yourself of all that
you have accomplished and all that
you can do, each and every day. If
you smile and give yourself this pep
talk each day, you will find that your
interviews will go better and that job
you are looking for will be right
around the corner.
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