The 10 Stages of Unemployment

by Vault Careers | December 16, 2010

As we face 2011, many Americans are more hopeful about the economy than they have been for some time. And yet, despite signs of recovery, layoffs continue across the country. In just the last couple of weeks, we've reported on downsizing at Yahoo, reductions in force within the pharmaceutical industry, likely layoffs in aerospace, and the continuing crisis for public sector worker. And that doesn't even scratch the surface of the amount of news that makes it onto our employment tracker. So while there is reason to be more hopeful, it's important to recognize that layoffs will always be a part of the employment cycle—and to be prepared for dealing with them so you can get back on your feet as soon as possible.

Here, then, are the ten stages of unemployment. Some will be lucky enough to skip a few, while others will repeat some—maybe several times—before their journey back to full employment is complete. But rest assured: if you keep trying, you will make it to number 10!

1. Shock: Even if there are signs of trouble at your firm, most people don’t expect to be laid off—which can make the moment where it actually happens surreal. Rather than listening, you find yourself wondering: "Is this happening?" "Is this what it feels like?" If you're lucky, you might snap out of it when they extend their hand to shake it and wish you well on your future endeavors.

2. Fear: Your world just crashed and as you walk out of the office and start packing your things, you mindlessly say goodbye to friends, trying to be positive, but trembling inside at the thought of the process before you. This is unknown territory and life just got downright frightening.

3. Confidence: Your skills and experience are up-to-date and relevant, so why shouldn't you bounce straight back? All you have to do is and it won’t be long before you line up a job offer. The question is – which one will you take? Instead of going to the office, you make the job search your full-time job, counting each job posting you applied for and anxiously awaiting the interview requests that are sure to follow.

4. Frustration: You realize that companies slashed their HR offices and follow-up calls are no longer a part of the job search process, even though everyone else still says it is. All you hear is, “Your application is on file and you will be called if there is any interest.” And while your application may be on file, the phone doesn’t ring and the emails do not come as quickly as you would have liked. You feel unwanted.

5. Desperation: You start applying for every job that even remotely seems like a decent fit. You’ll take a pay cut; you’ll relocate; you’ll even switch careers. The only thing holding you back from applying to the 24/7 Walgreens is the fear of being rejected for the graveyard shift. If you can’t get that job, what can you get?

6. A Chink of Light: You finally get an interview. You make it to the following rounds, then the final round. You don’t even apply for jobs anymore, because you’re sure that you got the job you just interviewed for. You secretly wish they'll set your start date two weeks from today so that you have time to enjoy your little time off.

7. Rejection: They turned you down. You give up on the job search. “How can this happen to me?” “How does this guy have a job and I don’t?” “This company sucks and I hate them.” “I’m going to be unemployed forever.” “I’m a loser.” You even believe that wallowing in self pity might work: maybe the Universe will feel bad enough for me that a job will magically fall in my lap.

8. Acceptance: I stink. My beard looks disgusting. I need a haircut. It’s time to get serious. I’m unemployed and no one said getting a job would be easy. I just need to get tougher and do whatever it takes to get hired. It’s possible and it will be done.

9. Resurgence: You get back on the horse and tackle the job search like never before, thinking outside the box and finding new ways to get your resume out there.

10. Resurrection: And then you hear the words you’ve been waiting to hear – “When can you start?”

What’s your story? Share your tale of unemployment and help lift the spirits of those still struggling to find work. Leave your comment below.

--Jon Minners, Vault.com

Filed Under: Job Search


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