I Lost More Than My Job 2 Years Ago

June 16th, 2008

They say losing your job is one of the top three major life stresses, up there with divorce and death.

You only die once… and most people probably won’t divorce more then two or three times in their life… but we can all lose our job over a dozen times in our career. If we change jobs every five years, and we start at age 20 and retire at age 65, we’ll change jobs 9 times.If we change jobs every three years, and we start at age 20 and retire at age 66, we’ll change jobs 15 times.

I met a guy last year who had been laid off 26 times. Imagine, 26 pink slips… and he wasn’t retired yet!

Why is this so stressful? Why does it rank up there with death and divorce? Here are some things I lost when I lost my job:

The ability to pay my own way. I’m quite independent, as I’m guessing you are. I like to pay for my own stuff, from a movie ticket to my car payment to my house payment…

The security I feel with insurance. Life insurance, and health insurance. I felt extremely naked as I lost these two things, which added to the stress in a big way.

Respect. I lost respect from others, who judged me because I lost my job (just as I had judged others… what a dork was to judge). Worse, I started to lose respect for myself.

My identity. I went from Jason the General Manager to Jason the ???. That was hard. In a society where we identify ourselves with our titles, losing the title was pretty devastating and left me in a state of confusion for a while.

My place in society. I was no longer able to contribute time or money the way that I had before, and felt more like a leach than someone who was adding value to the world.

My confidence. I was pretty self-confident before I got let go. I was even confident during the first couple of weeks, but as my job search stretched through the weeks and months I questioned whether I really had what it took to be an employee. Should I start from the beginning, and get an entry-level job?

Some of my “friends.” This was weird… to be quite chummy with the guys at the office, sharing personal experiences, enjoying personal successes, developing personal relationships. And then, with the pink slip, comes the fine print that almost says “you can’t communicate with the guys from the office anymore.” I didn’t expect that to be a side-effect, but it was. And losing friends like that hurt.

Yes, it’s stressful, and painful. We should be prepared for this recurring event, though, and with that preparation it doesn’t have to be so despairing!

What did YOU lose when you lost your job?

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23 Responses to “I Lost More Than My Job 2 Years Ago”

  1. I found jibberjbber when I lost my job! I spent hours on job boards. i didn’t have much of a network then, in the last year have dedicated a lot of time to building and maintaining it. We all need a network -not just a career source.

    I found a job as a substitute teacher. That helped a little. I was in the school until 2 or 3pm and then job hunting into the evening. I had the flexibility to go on interviews.

  2. Michael says:

    Your second point about insurance is a good point. I recently posted an article on my blog about why you shouldn’t rely on employer provided life insurance as your only coverage. Those gaps in coverage in between jobs can leave your family and financial portfolio really exposed. I’ll probably go back and add a link to your article here as a real life and authoritative example. As far as health insurance there is not much you can do since we are so reliant as a culture on our employers for health insurance. Also you have Cobra to protect you in between jobs.

    Sadly those last five points are so true. We connect so much of our lives with our jobs and careers that it can be scary sometimes.

  3. [...] President of Twelve Horses and by boss, Steve Spencer, chats one on one with Jason Alba, founder and owner of JibberJobber. Interesting and short. Worth the watch. Related Posts: Social [...]

  4. I lost my need for dependency!

    Dependency on job security, company provided perks and especially identity.

    I got me back!!!

  5. Deb Dib says:

    Jason, as always, great points.

    As I was reading it occurred to me that the same feelings are often shared by people who have left the “paid” workforce to raise children, care for aging parents, deal with a chronic illness, or retire. Even new entrepreneurs can feel it.

    No matter the reason for leaving, or how useful the new work is, the change from paid, connected, insured worker to an unsalaried new gig, takes some getting used to.

  6. Andres says:

    When I was fired, they gave me the push that I needed to be free.

  7. @ Carlos:

    Same here!

  8. Jason Alba says:

    @Brandon – what timing! As I remember, you were one of the very first JibberJobber users… thank goodness we were launched by then :p

    @Michael – as you know Cobra is a joke… but, if you have serious health problems I guess it’s all we got. My insurance issues came because I had “assets,” which I found very ironic. Basically, the state said “oh, you have a 401k – you don’t qualify for help!”

    @Carlos – awesome. Awesome. It is eye-opening, and hard for people to understand when they have the need for dependency, but I totally agree with you!

    @Deb – There should be some program to help people into these life-changing events. Even if it’s just a simple daily e-mail for 90 days or something like that.

    @Andres – awesome. I got that push too. I didn’t realize it until JibberJobber came along, but it certainly was a push.

  9. Rich says:

    What did I do the first time I lost my job? I slept like a baby (I cried all night).

  10. Chris says:

    You hit the nail on the head with the punch list of items I felt I lost along with my job earlier this year..

    It has helped me by giving back to those in need – especially these days. Its not easy but it’s the price to pay to feel worthy again.

    Along with the job I too lost my health insurance. I started a company that provides non-insurance health products on a shoestring budget but it is slow going since we don’t have money to get the word out.

    A shameless plug – download a free drug card from our site at http://www.EasyDrugCard.com and you can at least save some money on your prescriptions.

    This blog really helps me feel like I’m not alone so for that I’m grateful. Hang in there!

  11. Denise says:

    Like you, I have experienced job loss, well – three in the last three years! I relocated to DC for a management position, then the contract shifted 6 months in, and lost a job at about the same time that I had a major accident. There I was, walking around with a cast on, and trying to get a job. I took a “bridge” job through a temporary placement agency to help with the bills, then the company relocated out of town. After a few more months of looking, I was approached by a recruiter for a management position in management consulting with a company that I had heard so many good things about from the client side. Then, the economy went crazy and our stock price fell significantly, and my position was cut along with others in my operating unit.

    Since August, I’ve been looking, and can’t manage to get in front of people. In each conversation, I am told, “you’ve jumped around alot.” And, everyone pushes me about the reason for leaving. Seems like it would be simple, and I can deliver my talking points without emotion, but I am scared I’ll never get a job again.

    Does anyone have any advice for me?

  12. Lisa Kelly says:

    Hi Denise,

    It sounds like you need a very succinct way to answer the question, “what have you been doing?” Start practicing that. You’ll need to spin it so that the conversation goes back to you and your skills and expertise. Take the focus off the last 6 months.

    Also, I’d go back to temping during the down time. It will keep you connected to the job market, and you can make new connections.

    What does your resume look like? How does it address the ‘down’ time? You may need to get your resume either reviewed or reworked entirely. If you’re a JibberJobber member, check out http://www.resumepie.jibberjobber.com.

    Finally, work your network. And work it again!

  13. Hi, Denise -

    Lisa’s advice is right on target… anticipate the question and prepare/practice an answer that is concise, truthful, and draws you back to a discussion of your skills and strengths. First of all, have some confidence! The fact that they are even calling you or inviting you to interview means that you showed them something in your resume that said “I can help you.” Also take comfort from the fact that EVERYONE has some issues that need to be dealt with. The company simply wants to know that you are not a job hopper.

    So think about saying something like this – that will explain the situation and reassure them that this is not a chronic situation:

    “It does seem like I’ve jumped around a lot. In fact, the circumstances these last few months have been very unusual. You can see from my resume that the vast majority of my experience has been very solid. I’ve stayed with with each company through several job changes and promotions, based on the value I brought in the area of XXXX. Most recently it’s been a series of unexpected occurrences outside my control that caused the short-term jobs. First, I was excited to move to DC because the job was a great fit for my strengths in XXX. Unfortunately, the company lost a major contract shortly after I was hired, and XX jobs were cut immediately, including mine. I was fortunate to find several contract opportunities immediately, and within a couple of months I was approached by a recruiter about joining a company I had admired for a long time. Again, the timing was bad, because the current economic crisis caused our stock to fall significantly and that prompted a major layoff. I’m very proud of the work I did in the short time I was there, and it sounds like your current opening would be another great fit for me. As you know, I have a track record of ….”

    Don’t get discouraged, Denise. And don’t feel like they are “out to get you.” They are simply asking a question to be sure this won’t be a problem in the future. If you can reassure them, you can refocus the discussion on what’s really important… your skills, strengths, and value to the company.

  14. GREGG P says:

    I lost my job after 20yrs, I would wake up in the morning at 6am and not have any where to go. I would sit on the couch and stare at the the t.v., but would not turn it on. I did’nt know any thing about resumes, monster.com, or how to even interview. I cried alot, I’m 50yrs old and was lost. I went to a doctor for depression, I was lucky my wife worked and carried the health care. I was wating for that one glimmer of hope, everyday more people lost there jobs, it seamed hopeless. I started to talk to friends of mine at my former job ,but soon the phone calls stopped, I went on a web site that helped me write a resume, I applied for a lot of jobs, finally I got a call for an interview, I put on my sport coat and tie, and went to speak to the person hiring, I was sick to my stomach, but went threw with it. The HR rep sat with me for 1hr , I felt more comfortly ,when the interview was over I asked off the record how I presented myself, they said fine and told me how I could improve. I went on other interviews, and practiced, I went to one interview with 1000 other people for 25 jobs, I sat for 6hrs, I finally made it to the interview room, they talked to me, and then sent me to take a test, and then sent me home. I pushed on, I got a call offering me a job, I took it, I workd there for 2 months, then I got a call from the 1000 people job , they offererd me a position , with benifits, a pension, a good stable company, I quit the job I was at and will be starting this week at the new job. It was like a death to me losing my job after 20yrs, I was ashamed that my wife was carrying the load for our family. THAT ONE GLIMMER OF HOPE BECAME A REALITY , I GOT A GOOD JOB ,AND I WILL NEVER LOOK BACK AT THOSE 20YRS, GOD BLESS AMERICA , GOD BLESS THE WORKING MAN AND WOMEN!

  15. It’s normal to tie your self-worth and hopes for the future to your immediate level of achievement.

    But it reflects a low state of psychological development that is typical of most people in every culture no matter how much they boast about their spirituality.

  16. [...] unemployed SUCKS.  You are a fourth class citizen (see my slideshow “I Got Fired“), you have lost your identity, and you’ve had to figure out how to deal with depression in the job search and a whole lot of [...]

  17. reinkefj says:

    My self-confidence. My belief that I control my own destiny. My humor. My ability to help. My earning power. My faith in people, especially those in “management”.

    It doesn’t come back, ;-(
    the big fat old turkey hisself

  18. Hi, Jason,

    My experience losing a job about 10 years ago was devastating. It was the result of deliberate two-person bullying that had ground me down so low, I had to go into counseling for a full year to regain my self-worth and my sanity, and get relief from deep depression. The bullying had been going on for about 9 months, and came to head when I was put on probation and had to endure daily, vicious psychological abuse from my boss, and covert abuse from the co-worker who was feeding my boss’s obsession with beating me up verbally, emotionally, and spiritually. They were quite a tag team.

    My greatest loss was my self-esteem and self-confidence, resulting in severe depression. I was lucky that COBRA insurance covered mental health care. What I gained through counseling was restoration of my sanity and self-respect. However, I did NOT lose my faith. That would never happen because I know the truth I know about God’s love which is unconditional, always available, and divine–not subject to human interpretation. The suffering I endured was never an issue of whether or not God loved me, but rather how He was providing for my healing (through counseling) and for my needs. The suffering was caused by the evil intentions in the hearts of my boss and co-worker.

    My loss of income did impact our lifestyle and financial stability. I missed the social camaraderie from the workplace, and the learning opportunities…I love to learn. I also lost the sense of fulfillment until I found something to take its place.

    About 18 months later, I heard about a Christian coaching conference to be held in Bellevue, WA. I attended it, and met Susan Whitcomb, one of the most compassionate, lovable, and very knowledgeable person I’d ever met. I had not known much about career coaching, but was quite intrigued by it after listening to all the presentations. I signed up for Susan’s career coach training course right after the conference.

    My life gradually took a new direction–not suddenly–and I haven’t looked back. Sometimes we only see the blessings hidden in the dark clouds after the fact. That’s true of any kind of suffering we endure–death of a loved one, loss of a job, a sudden change in health, etc., as Deb Dib mentioned.

    Back to the topic, I agree with Louise Kursmark’s recommendations for Denise. I would add to that to find a circle of support, perhaps including both friends and professionals, with whom you can brainstorm, discuss challenges, turn to for a shoulder to cry on when you need it, or just to feel like a valued human being. I definitely recommend finding ways to put fun in your life while you’re on the journey to a new job or business. Those you surround yourself with makes a huge difference in how well you cope and how well you thrive in times of loss, suffering, and uncertainty. Choose wisely–choose “bone marrow” people, as Susan Whitcomb calls them–people who build you up from the inside out, who nurture you, who have no hidden agendas, and who are truly invested in fostering the best outcome for you.

    My best,

    ~Kathy

  19. [...] JibberJobber Blog. Posted under Career Management on March 26th, 2010 I LOVE THIS POST. I lost more than my job 2 years ago.  Really.  Go read it.  And leave a comment. What did you lose when you lost your job? Print [...]

  20. Jeff H says:

    I lost most of what you lost and a large portion of my feeling of self worth as it drug on.

    The first big change came when closely after my father passed I lost my job. I gained a HUGE chip on my shoulder, feelings of anger, resentment, disillusionment and resounding pride… yeah pride. When you should be humbling yourself to refocus and see whats wrong inside I went into the blame and criticize zone. It was everyone else and their companies I saw flaws with. It stunk! I spent weeks and months determined to show them they were all stupid and wrong. What did that invested time, energy, anger and freustration get me? NOTHING, in fact its almost cost me my marriage, my name, my friends, my family and my faith. How did I let this govern my life? There were so many more things to be thankful for and so many things to focus my energy on while I was looking but instead I chose to self destruct.

    My advice to all: DON’T GO THERE!

    Go HERE:
    Work hard at truly building every relationship you can. You will find an opportunity, and sometimes in the least likely places.

    Do things for the benefit of others too. You’re struggling but serving will calm your mind and build relationships with those that could become your next coworker, employer or employee…

    Great post Jason. Its amazingly frustrating how so many woes of society right now are directly linked to this (crime, divorce, abuse etc…).

    Thanks for posting!

  21. [...] It. Sucks. I know it does.  (See my post titled I Lost More Than My Job 2 Years Ago) [...]

  22. [...] a job seeker, getting rejected means you might not be able to pay your bills, and a whole lot more (one of my favorite blog posts on this here).  It seems that EVERYTHING depends on NOT getting rejected, [...]

  23. [...] 2008 I wrote a blog post titled I Lost More Than My Job 2 Years Ago, where I talk about losing my identity, which I had encapsulated in my little professional job [...]

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