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Job Loss & Recovery


It’s anecdotal, but I have no less than six friends who have lost their media jobs over the past month or so as the carnage in the broadcast industry continues. It’s like an entire craft is being sacrificed on the altar of scaled-back recessionary budgets and tumultuous change.

I swear these companies have it down to a science now. Find the biggest salaries generally belonging to the oldest workers, sprinkle in an under-40 here and there so you can deny “pattern and practice” in case anybody wants to sue for age discrimination and- there you go….another budget-target hit. Until the next round.

Having been through this process several times myself, I can tell you it’s not a lot of fun, though it’s not completely a horror show either. If I lose my current media job, the only secure employment prospects seem to be in job counseling. So consider this practice.

There are stages of grief just like recovering from the death of a family member or friend. There’s nothing quite like that 1st week of joblessness when you wake up in the morning, remember what the deal is, and shake your head in disbelief. But there are things you can do that bring some sanity into the picture.

The two biggest things are dealing with the psychology and the finances. In lay-off parlance, “separation” is exactly that. You’ve been separated from a world full of friends and colleagues and there are natural feelings of isolation. If you’re the main bread-winner, you get the additional layers of feelings of guilt and inadequacy. I now give myself about one and a half to two weeks of self-pity. But that’s it. Then it’s time to move on.

As for the finances, my very, very first action is always to do a budget reality check. You measure up your spending habits against all of your assets, retirement money included. Since most layoffs involve older workers, you’re likely to be better off than you might have thought if push comes to shove. It’s always a nice relief to know you’re not going to be living out of a cardboard box.

There is a strange dual psychology that develops in which both the world of great possibilities and the reality that they haven’t come to fruition yet reside simultaneously inside you. But make no mistake about it- there is a wonderful feeling of exhilaration when you go about the process of analyzing how to reinvent yourself. There’s something exciting about the concept of doing work you would absolutely love to do.

Reinvention and rejuvenation. People do it all the time.

To my friends going through this rough patch- remember you are not your jobs. The value you bring to life, family and friends is in your character, not your title. Be strong, stay positive, think creatively, hustle and conquer. You can do this.

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