Fired from Your Identity

What to do when you’re let go from your job

As you are healing emotionally from the disappointment, take steps to heal yourself practically.

Learning more about something you love will help you engage during a time when it would be really easy to disengage from the world.
  • Once you know what you are looking for in your next job, start investigating—research companies that intrigue you, find people in your network who know people who work there. Start going on informational interviews. Get offline. The Internet is a honey trap—it feels good, you think you’re being productive, but most people get jobs from people they know. So get out there and get to know some new people.

  • If possible, find a part-time gig. Losing your job is really, really, really hard emotionally. It also quickly comes with financial pressure. If you have put money aside for an emergency, now would be the time to use it. But if don’t have any money saved up, you’ll likely start feeling financial pressure within days of losing your job. A part-time job will offer you some income, while not locking you into a full-time job that isn’t a great fit and doesn’t leave time for interviews or job searching (which is a lot of work, in-and-of-itself). Think of this time as a sabbatical and be creative. Do you like riding your bicycle? See if you can find a job in a bike shop. If you’ve always thought that unique grocery store would be a fun place to work, see if they are hiring. Learning more about something you love will help you engage during a time when it would be really easy to disengage from the world.

  • Even if you can’t find a part-time job, consider volunteering somewhere part time. It will give structure to your days and make sure you aren’t hiding alone too much, while you help others in the process.

  • Prepare an answer to the “What do you do?” question. While our jobs shouldn’t be our identity, they are one of the more recognizable and easily explained things about us. We may not like it even when we are employed, but it’s normal that people ask that question upon meeting. Answers could include, “I’m in between jobs,” or offer an honest, “I’m working on figuring that out.” People will likely respect your candor. Another option is, “I’m a bike mechanic.”

Depending on your personality, you may need to heal emotionally before you can heal practically. Personally, I work better in the opposite order: once I “get myself moving,” I start to feel stronger emotionally. However you start out, your emotional and practical healing will build off one another. You will have good days and bad days—times when you can almost taste the breakthrough and times when you wonder if you’ll last another day. This was one job (of many that you will likely have over your lifetime). Taking time to gain some perspective can renew your energy for your next position (there will almost always be one).

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May 25

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