Nearly everyone has lost a job at some point in their life. Whether it’s due to a single mistake, a pattern that emerged over time, or changes within the company, it’s often an unexpected and painful event. Regardless of the details, there are things we can all learn when this happens.
1. There’s value in self-reflection.
It can be hard to look back at things we’ve done, especially when it ends badly. But learning to look back on your own behavior with a more objective view is a skill that comes with maturity and practice. Consider events that happened, and try to see them from others’ points of view. By thinking honestly about what you could have done differently, you’ll be able to learn from the experience and handle yourself better when similar occasions arise in the future.
2. Communication isn’t always easy.
Emotions tend to run high in these situations, making it difficult to communicate in a calm, professional manner. Going through an experience like this will make communication under normal circumstances seem easy in comparison. Additionally, although you may not learn exactly what to say in any situation from being let go, you may realize what things you don’t want to repeat. Most importantly, focus on listening.
3. Maturity is formed from struggle.
If my experience is anything like anyone else’s, the first time losing a job is traumatic for everyone involved. Few people take rejection well to begin with, and the often unexpected nature of losing a job only adds to the negative emotions. Although job loss is a painful event, it’s also an opportunity for growth; you’ll be able to come out stronger on the other side. How you respond to your unemployment is more telling about your character than your unemployment itself.
4. Only persistence escapes the past.
Although not always the case, some situations can make it difficult for you to get another job in the same field (especially if it’s a small, specialized career field). This may arise from a former employer holding a grudge and blackballing your name to other companies in their network, potential employers becoming aware of a mistake you made on the job, or a myriad of other scenarios. Although the best option is to try not to let any of these things happen, no one is perfect. If you find yourself in this position, persistence is key to finding a new job. Learn how to present information to prospective employers in a more positive light (while remaining truthful); this may include avoiding the use of phrases like “laid off,” and saying “downsizing” instead.
5. No job is 100% secure.
Whether due to company restructuring, downsizing, or poor performance, even veteran employees lose their jobs sometimes. Although it can be difficult to accept the reality of losing a job, remember that your job is just a job. Rather than fighting to stay at a company that doesn’t want you, use it as an opportunity to move on: Brush up your résumé, consider what you want in a new job, and put your energy toward the future.
6. Your job doesn’t define you.
No matter how long you’ve been working a particular position, you are more than your job. Yes, it takes humility to admit to your family and friends that you’ve been laid off, but it doesn’t lower your worth as a friend, sibling, or parent. You will find another job that is suited to your interests and strengths, but until then, let yourself enjoy your hobbies, put time into developing your relationships, and don’t worry too much about your title.
Losing a job is a difficult event no matter the circumstances. Despite this, there are lessons to be learned from the experience. By forcing us to grow and change, even the most painful experiences can have a positive effect on our lives.