Most of us know someone who is unemployed and doesn't want to be. Whether it is ourselves, a friend or a parent who is unemployed, knowing arid understanding the emotional stages of joblessness can help us cope more effectively and make the transition from unemployment to employment smoother.
Over the past several years, extensive research has been conducted on the experience of unemployment by Dr. Bill Borgen and Dr. Norm Amundson from the Counselling Psychology Department at the University of British Columbia. After interviewing hundreds of people, they developed a model (see below ) outlining the various emotional stages that many of those individuals reported experiencing after losing a job.
Unlike other transitions, there is little support or validation for the feelings associated with being unemployed. If there is no opportunity for immediate re-employment, an unemployed person may go through a grieving process similar to that associated with other great losses.
According to the researchers, each person's situation and reaction to unemployment is unique, yet there are many similarities that most of us experience. As shown in the graph on Job Loss Stages, these reactions include: the initial shock, anger and denial phase (A), where we may not believe that we are actually out of a job (especially if we are fired or let go suddenly), followed by worry and anxiety (B) over what we will do next.
After some time, most people begin to "accept" the situation and gear up to look for another job. At this point, we may feel hopeful and optimistic about our chances of getting another job. We ate on the crest of the roller coaster (C).
Depending on the response we get from potential employers, our emotions will fluctuate, alternating between depression, elation, fear, eagerness. anger, thankfulness, desperation, hope and frustration (D).
Finally, if the job hunt is unsuccessful over a long period of time, some of us will "burn out" and feel apathy and a sense of despair. Sometimes we may even give up the search (H).
Breaking the negative cycle of unemployment and avoiding burnout is difficult, however, if we allow ourselves to be optimistic (E), reach out for support and make use of the resources and training programs that are available to us (F), we may find that the very next interview lands us the job we want (G).
THE COPING BRIDGE (E)
The rough waters of unemployment can leave us feeling like castaways. Here are some basic lifesaving techniques that, if applied, can help us cross the bridge to a more manageable and positive way of coping with our job search.
Family: Discussing our situation with our family and letting them know how we feel and finding out how they feel will help us stay more connected and less alienated.
Friends: Friends can prevent us from feeling lonely. They can help us with our job search and give us emotional support.
Job Search/Support Groups: There are hundreds of job finding clubs and programs throughout the province. These programs can help us maintain a sense of purpose, optimism and teach us the most up-to-date job hunting skills. Such groups are available though local employment centres, employment agencies, colleges, universities and social service agencies.
Positive Thinking: Rewarding ourselves for things we have done well instead of blaming ourselves for things that are out of our control is critical. Not getting hired for a job has generally very little to do with who we are but rather is related to the needs of the employer.
Career Changes/Retraining: Listing our skills and reviewing our strengths is very important in identifying the kings of jobs that we can do and the kind of training we may need to take in order to remain competitive.
Job Contacts: Staying in touch with our network of contacts is key. Going to interviews for information on companies will keep us in tune with possible openings within various companies--many of which are never advertised.
Survival Jobs: These may help us pay the bills and keep us in the working world while we continue to look for something more satisfying.
Volunteer Work: Volunteer work is an amazing way to learn new skills, offer our talents and improve our self-esteem. When we volunteer, we make contacts and see new opportunities.
Do the Little Things: Do all the things that you have been saving for a rainy day--it gives us a sense of accomplishment that will add to our positive outlook.
Exercise: Exercise helps us to relieve stress and maintain a positive attitude.
Reduce Financial Pressure: It's important to communicate with our family and creditors to agree on a financial plan which will help reduce expenses.
|TECHNIQUES FOR COPING WITH UNEMPLOYMENT|
|OUT OF WORK, BUT WORKING HARD|
|Job hunters who treat looking for work like a full-time job are usually the first to find employment. Here are some tips:|
Activity Two - Riding the Roller Coaster
Complete Worksheet #2 and transfer information to the Worksheet Summary.
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