If you take a look at statistics illustrated by major research companies you will consistently find that more than 50% of individuals lack satisfaction in their jobs. I have spoken to more than one executive who has referred to their job in the corporate jungle as “wearing golden handcuffs.” The truth is that so many people experience what I refer to as “job dread.” This is the experience of dragging your body into work while leaving your soul in a sweltering car with the windows rolled up. Unemployment could actually offer the well deserved time needed to resolve this experience. You can conduct a job search that includes a personal strategic plan designed to integrate your soul’s needs with your practical career needs.
Of course, when significant change is triggered by events beyond our realm of influence, it is natural to go through a grieving process that includes panic, fear, anger, sadness, etc. Particularly, if you are newly unemployed, I encourage you to give yourself the time you need to fully experience the emotions that come forward for you, without judgment. Also, gently remind yourself that this is not the first time in which you have had to overcome prior, seemingly impossible challenges. For instance, less than ten years ago many of us traversed significant challenges resulting from the dot com burst and pervasive post 9/11 cutbacks.
After you have allowed yourself to experience the bulk of your instinctual response to the layoff, I invite you to refocus your attention on something positive. This can include activating your support system, and beginning to take an inventory of your unique skills and strengths that will remain with you wherever you go. Begin to ask yourself, “Is it just my job and company that are in flux or is it my industry and career sector that are in trouble?” If it is your industry then I encourage you to also ask yourself if you are one of the more than 50% lacking job satisfaction. If so, this lay off may just be your call to self discovery.
I was recruited and hired into a new position that began right after 9/11 on September 17, 2001. At the time my work was Human Resources and Talent Acquisition. Within two weeks I discovered that I was hired as a recruiter into a company that was implementing a hiring freeze and reducing headcount. Guess who was one of the first to go? Right, yours truly. Three weeks after being hired I was laid off with two weeks of severance pay. Trust me; it was no fun being a recruiter in a job market that was experiencing significant cutbacks and unemployment. Over the course of the next year I had moments when I didn’t know if I could afford to eat lunch. Fortunately, I was blessed with a support network that fed me when I needed it. Not only did I manage to survive, I learned about the depths of my resourcefulness and what was truly important to me. I learned to listen to my gut, which was telling me to stay in my contract and not take the new position. Also, my desire to be of service was rekindled, and I went back to work for a non-profit career center while I submitted applications to graduate school.
Many people often wait for adversity to engage in the process of self-discovery. Self-discovery in the context of career exploration means asking yourself a few probing questions. These questions include,”What is it that I truly love to do and that inspires me? What would I be willing to stay up all night doing, still feel energized in the morning, and not get paid for it?” These questions begin to tap into the source of your true inspiration, values, and preferred skills.