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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, January 4, 2010

Post-layoff venting clears your head before new job hunt


By Andrea Kay

I once did work where I helped people who had lost their jobs within the last 48 hours get back on their feet. Most companies who did the letting go of these 20-year managers, highly skilled tool and die makers and dedicated secretaries, wanted everyone in the room (at times up to 25) to leave with a new and hopeful frame of mind and a spiffy new resume in hand by day's end.

The problem was no one was in the mood to work on their resume, let alone mindset, when they were still in shock about losing their means to pay the mortgage.

Every time we'd come close to pinning down someone's achievements a key component of a resume it stirred up discussions of their co-workers whom they would miss terribly and the Neanderthal knucklehead boss they had put up with and all for what? Which would lead to a spitting mad back-and-forth about the lying, cheating company that only cared about getting rich and didn't give two hoots about loyal, hardworking people.

I had been in their shoes before. And I wanted them to know they would be OK; it would just take time. But it's hard to get back in the saddle the day after you lose so much. And you really shouldn't try.

It is tempting, though, to want to move on and to do it fast. More people than not in the 20-some years since I sat in those rooms to today, tell me they want to "get back out there" quickly. They want to immediately update their resume and call up or e-mail everyone and tell them they're available for hire.

But try to resist. You really need to do some other things first.

Like simply complain to someone who's close to you and won't talk back. Someone who will just let you go on and on about what you're worried about. To let out how hurt and unappreciated you feel. To grumble and gripe about what's happened until you're sick of it and ready to talk about things like a resume and a plan to go with it.

Once you're more clear-headed, you need to figure out how to respond to interview questions like "Why did you leave the company?" and "How did you get along with your boss?"

"I know all that," one man told me a few weeks back when learning his position was being eliminated. But he didn't heed the advice.

So his anger has been leaking into his conversations with potential employers. He thinks he's hiding it, but they hear his resentment. There's a tinge of sarcasm in his voice when he talks about his former boss that makes people wonder what's up. They sense an "attitude" that wouldn't be good for business.

His contacts have been drying up. And now he's back to fretting and fuming.

Taking stock of what you're feeling may seem like a small thing. And the more important issue at hand is getting back out there and fast. But if you're going to do your best out there, first you need to work through what's inside you a toxic bitterness and stream of sorrow that can accompany such a loss.

Only then can you don a more hopeful frame of mind and write that spiffy new resume you will also surely need.