I've Been Downsized - Now What?

The Insider's Guide To Job Search

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I've Been Downsized - Now What?
As published in The Flightpath News - October 9, 2002

By Kevin T. Buckley, CPC

I've Been Downsized - Now What?

It wasn't planned but, given the shape of the company it may not have been a total surprise, either. Regardless of how or why it happened, being downsized or restructured is a shocking event, one that has been experienced by many in the modern workforce. Dealing with it has become a true challenge of change.

Psychologists speak of various states of shock, denial, anger and acceptance that are experienced when traumatic events occur in our lives. It isn't unusual to feel a sense of grief, anxiety or depression. These are human reactions. It is also normal to feel a sense of dislocation because the familiar structure of daily life has been disrupted. The key to moving beyond the emotional shock of downsizing is to first acknowledge and then accept it.

Acceptance is the key to freeing yourself from regrets, blame, hostility or self-criticism. It will improve your outlook on the future and revitalize your energies in the present. Remembering your successes by looking back on your career achievements will empower you as these accomplishments are proof of the valuable contribution you have to make.

Talk out your feelings with family and friends. It is healthy to communicate what you are experiencing. Network with a local support group whose prime purpose is to promote self-confidence. Mutual self-help groups will give you a renewed sense of purpose and vitality. Reading biographies about people who encountered similar challenges and rose above them is another inspirational and practical tool to use for rebuilding self-esteem. Understanding how other people overcame their obstructions and limitations will help to strengthen your resolve and get your career back on track.

Some make the error of launching themselves into an immediate self-marketing campaign motivated by the fear of not being able to find new employment. The concern is that they may still feel resentment towards their former employer and carry these unresolved feelings of anger and betrayal into job interviews. Astute employers can recognize the signs of internal distress and may choose not to pursue any further discussions. You owe it to yourself to wait until you have arrived at a calm state of acceptance before going out to interview for jobs.

In order to meet the future, you need to leave behind the recent past. Holding on to a feeling of being victimized is not in your best interest. It can cloud your interactions with others, projecting a negative image. Once the emotions have subsided and you have achieved acceptance, you'll begin to view the changes that have happened as a positive challenge for personal growth. Then, it will be time to start taking personal inventory, reviewing the specific skills, aptitudes, knowledge and abilities you have. Recognize the opportunity in front of you to make new choices and perhaps take an entirely new direction in your career. As recruiters, we often witness people who have faced one door closing only to find others opening in unexpected and beneficial ways.

After allowing yourself a little time to heal, without indulging in self-pity, you'll be ready to take that first important step on a new path to the future.

Recommended Reading: "What Color is my Parachute", by Richard Nelson Bolles and the accompanying Workbook.

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