Tips for dealing with a job loss, grief and a new job search in 2017

Lenroy Jones
Lenroy Jones

Making new year’s resolutions? Is one of them to find a new job? Or start a job search? Or consider a new type of work?

American author, political activist and humanitarian Helen Keller said, “Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”

In other words, you are the key to your success, your happiness. But often that’s easier said than realized.

If you are entering this year without a job and find yourself feeling stressed about it, it might be good to start the new years asking yourself, what contributes to that feeling? Is it possible that you have not reconciled with the loss of a previous job?

If you feel angry or resentful, alone, depressed, scared and/or you’re ruminating about the circumstance of the job loss and are embarrassed about it, you might just be caught somewhere in the cycle of grief and loss related to that job separation.

Grief is real and it’s normal. Although individuals normally recognize the need to grieve following the death of family or close friends, many don’t see the grief and job loss connection.

Grief happens to be one of the most misunderstood emotions that we deal with throughout our life. It is easier said than done to tell someone who has been laid off, faced job elimination or fired to “get back on that horse and keep riding.” The loss of employment brings out real emotions and cannot be overlooked.

In 2011, Arthur Williams was a business service representative with a company that held a contract with the State of Michigan’s Workforce Development. He walked in to work one day and his life was changed. “The loss of my job came as a complete shock. I felt I had been betrayed,” Williams said.

Understanding the grief after a job loss will help you deal with your emotions and better manage your emotions throughout the job search.

When people talk about stages of grief, they most often are talking about the five traditional stages of grief identified by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross: : denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

There is not one correct or right way to grieve. But there are some ways to cycle through the stages of grief as you move forward. . In the context of the job search, you have to do something about your grief if it’s affecting your ability to land a job.

Here are a few suggestions to help you overcome job loss grief:

▪  Take care of yourself. Research, read more, and learn about the stages of grief. Determine where you are in the process.

“Grief and loss are experiences that can be worked through and people can become happy again. Counseling can be a healthy and effective way to work through this experience in life,” said F. Janelle McNeal, a licensed psychologist. She encourages people to talk to a local mental health provider or hospital, and contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-8255. Talking through the grief gives us a better understanding of the stages.

▪  Embrace the fact that new beginnings bring new opportunities. Jim Davis, author of “The Job Loss Survival Guide,” suggests, “Be open about what has happened to you. Don’t be afraid to say, ‘I lost my job.’ You may be surprised at how many people you meet have had similar experiences.”

▪  As we start a new year, resolve to embrace a renewed personal commitment to improving your life and job search. Steve Jobs founded Apple and became a household name at age 30. He was a self-made millionaire, but in 1985 he was fired. It catapulted him into a midlife crisis, but he then took time to figure out, what next?

In his famous 2005 commencement address at Stanford, Jobs gave some bold advice: “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

He spoke of connecting the dots, family, faith, heaven, a near-death experience and staying hungry. It’s one speech you should Google, view and learn from.

Today, Williams is a Life Skills Coach at a local school in Detroit, Mich. His goal is to find a full time job equivalent to or better than the job he lost. Meanwhile, he’s working at the school and he gives time to his community and church, and is actively involved in family life.

The effect on self-esteem after a job loss should not be overlooked. For many people, losing a job is not just about loss of income and benefits, but a loss of self-worth.

“I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me,” Jobs said. “The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter into one of the most creative periods of my life.”

So, how will you begin your new year with your job search? What’s next for you?

Lenroy Jones has dedicated his life to coaching and supporting career seekers to pursue their passion and purpose. Join him on LinkedIn, “like” him at or follow him on Twitter at @CareerDudeTweet.