Job Layoff: Confronting “Why Me?”

admin, 14 July 2011, No comments
Categories: Careers Employment
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Perhaps you saw it coming. The fall in company stock prices. The news articles about company troubles. Maybe it was just rumors on the production floor, or a creeping suspicion that orders had slowed down and there was no longer the backlog of work which had been a security blanket. Maybe it was the way management started to avoid you and private meetings were held without any communication issued afterwards.

Finally, it happened. The company, regretfully they assured you, no longer needed your services. The last paycheck was handed over, a checklist of Cobra benefits and unemployment insurance details were reviewed, time to gather your personal items allowed. You walked out in an unreal haze, barely noticing that the remaining staff concentrated on their work as if to avoid the possible contamination of being associated with someone they now saw as a loser. A few of your closer friends shook your hand, with averted eyes, and promised to stay in touch although you both knew that it would never happen.

You drove home, wondering how to tell your family and asking yourself over and over, “Why me?”

Welcome to the gray, anxious, claustrophobic world of unemployment.

Was it fair that you were selected to go?

Of course not.

Is life fair?

Of course not.

The key to maintaining your sense of self-worth through the pressures of unemployment and the rigors of job search, an often demeaning process, is to reframe your outlook and look at yourself both objectively and kindly. You are in an uncomfortable position that was not caused by anything you did, or anything you didn’t do. It happened, as bad things often happen to good people.

Treasure yourself, your skills, and your personal value and learn to see what has happened to you as what it can be: an opportunity to take a “time out,” to re-assess yourself, practice self-exploration and self-appreciation, and a chance to refocus your life in new and positive directions.

Virginia Bola operated a rehabilitation company for 20 years, developing innovative job search techniques for disabled workers, while serving as a respected Vocational Expert in Administrative, Civil and Workers’ Compensation Courts. Author of an interactive and emotionally supportive workbook, The Wolf at the Door: An Unemployment Survival Manual, and a monthly ezine, The Worker’s Edge, she can be reached at

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