Out of Work for Months? Not for Long.

This month iMag spoke to real people to learn about their experience getting laid off and provide them with the advice they need to get back on track. Our coaches, Robert Hellman and Laura Grashow-Rywell, stepped in to help them find their next job.

John’s* Pink Slip

Number of years at company: 8+ years

Brief description of job: U.S. Sales and Installation Manager

How did it happen? The company was purchased by an investor group and they closed our corporate headquarters and moved to another state. We all lost our jobs, about 300 employees.

What's your biggest concern? My biggest concerns are my future, my family's future and paying the bills.

First thing you did: I tried to connect with friends who might have some influence in helping me find another job.

Right Now: John* has held a few different unsatisfying jobs and wants to make a career change.

Robert Hellman, Five O'Clock Club Career Coach shares his advice:

John needs to take a step back and become more strategic about his career, especially in light of his recent job experiences. Coming up with a long-term plan through a career self-assessment will help John avoid future job-dissatisfaction (and possibly future layoffs!), and help him to achieve "life satisfaction". I would recommend John focus on at least three areas for this assessment. (Exercises that can help John to focus on these areas are covered in the book "Targeting a Great Career," published by the Five O'Clock Club.)

First, John should seek to understand his "motivated skills," those things that he enjoys doing that he is good at the Five O'Clock Club we call this exercise "the Seven Stories". This understanding will help John select a job and career that he will truly feel good about.

Second, John should develop a long-term vision for his career and life — 10 years, 15 years, and even 40 years out, if that is appropriate for him. What does he want to be doing 15 years from now, where does he want to live, who are his friends, what is his lifestyle, etc.? John will use this long-term vision to help make career decisions that will advance him towards his life goals.

Lastly, John should understand his work related values, including things he can compromise on, and those he can't. These values could include a certain level of income, walking to work, flexible hours, and so forth.

This whole process should take John no more than a couple of weeks, but has the potential to provide priceless self-knowledge that he can use to achieve greater career happiness.

Dr. Laura Grashow, Psy.D., Licensed Psychologist weighs in:

It's only natural that John would be worried about how he is going to support his family. For those of us with higher levels of what is known as neurotocism, tense and anxious types, uncertain economic times and the loss of a long time job only heightens fears. So it's not just about the real losses John and his family will suffer — it is about his (and their), experience of those losses. Without even recognizing what we do, many of us tend to operate as if our thoughts are the same as our realities — as if our thoughts are our reality and quite simply put — they are not. While reality hurts, it's living in the world of our blackest, most frightening fantasy that makes our experiences exponentially worse.

So what can John do instead of "just not think about it"? According to the discipline of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy the goal is to accept our own thoughts and feelings without judgement; let them happen so we can see them and correct cognitive distortions. For John some questions to ask are: Am I catastrophizing (magnifying the negative while minimizing the positive)? Am I engaging in all or nothing thinking (assuming that if I'm not on top professionally then I'm a failure)? Am I letting my emotion overrule my logic and assuming that since I feel depressed or anxious; therefore things are irretrievably ruined.

In terms of a career change, it's those of us with the "Type T" personality (novelty seekers who tend to thrive on change and spontaneity) for whom this kind of rough ride can be an opportunity to flex their creative muscle and rely on their innate self confidence and high energy levels to do what they need to do to survive, and better yet — come out on top. From an emotional standpoint, this kind of career change requires patience, persistence and, above all, flexibility. John will likely be walking into a whole new industry or role, with its own set of expectations and unwritten rules. One strategy for John to rely on is to be aware of his self-talk; to make it as rational as possible and to stay away from irrational self talk such as automatic assumptions that he is a failure or the overgeneralization that loss of this job means only bad things for his career future.

For more on Rob & Laura see below:

Robert is Associate Director of the Five O’Clock Club Guild of Career Coaches. He’s also a Guild member himself with a substantial private practice, and teaches Career Development at NYU. Rob has over 20 years of experience in Marketing and Organizational Development through organizations such as JP Morgan Chase, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and American Express. In addition, Rob founded his own successful marketing/multimedia production company where he has worked with clients such as the Audubon Society and 1-800-flowers. His educational background includes a BS in Economics from Binghamton University and an MBA in Finance/Marketing from Fordham University .

You can contact Rob through the Five O’Clock Club at 212-286-4500, or by sending an e-mail to guild@fiveoclockclub.com

Laura Grashow Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who has been working with children, adolescents and families for over 15 years. She specializes in relationship issues, parenting, divorce, and child development. For more information, see Dr. Laura's website.

Plus, check out Laura's new book "Dating the Older Man." It is the ultimate comprehensive guide to coping with large age differences in love relationships. In today's world, factors such as high divorce rates, plastic surgery, increased life span, internet dating, and even Viagra are making older men more available and more attractive choices for younger women. Get great practical answers to real problems and dilemmas — including issues relating to blended families and how to be a step-parent. The book is a veritable "how to" for relationships packed with great strategies and is an invaluable resource for women in the modern dating world.

*Individuals names have been changed*

• Visit us on our Facebook page! >>