Career Transition: Assessment (Grieving a Job Loss)

Career Transition: Assessment (Grieving a Job Loss) 


A few months ago, I reviewed the steps you take during a career transition 

Step 1: Assessment  

Step 2: Preparation 

Step 3: Action 

Today, I’ll be going into more detail about Step 1: Assessment 

As a refresher, there are several parts of Assessment, namely: 

  • Understanding the emotions you have related to your career transition. 
  • Assessing your finances. 
  • Writing down your skills and abilities. 
  • Evaluating your career options. 
  • Deciding your values, motivators, and interests. 
  • Reviewing your accomplishments. 

Let’s talk about the emotions that arise during a career transition. Whether that transition was voluntary or forced, a shift in your career is a significant life change, and this change can lead to grief.  

We usually associate grief with the loss of a loved one, but you can experience grief after losing anything important to you, including your job. 

Most of us are familiar with Elizabeth Kuhbler-Ross’ stages of grief: 


Stage of Grief 

Career-Related Examples 


You refuse to talk about what happened 

You won’t accept the finality of your job loss 


You feel angry and bitter towards your former company, boss, colleagues, and even friends and family 


You try to find a way to stay in the company, possibly in a new position (Note: companies have usually planned for all contingencies before layoffs, and this tactic rarely works) 


You feel a loss of identity, self-worth, self-esteem 

You change your sleeping, eating, or exercise habits 

You withdraw from family and friends 


You acknowledge and accept not only the job loss but also your emotions, beginning the path to reconstructing your career 


In the 1960s, Dr. Louis Ferman, a researcher, identified seven more potential stages of grief for job loss specifically: 


Stage of Grief 

Career-Related Examples 


You feel a sense of relief or freedom, either because you saw the layoff coming and you’re happy it’s over or because you’ve wanted a change for some time 


You feel numb or paralyzed, especially if the layoff was unexpected news 

Guilt and Remorse 

You think of what you could have done differently and if it would have caused a different outcome 


You feel frantic and anxious, leading to emotional paralysis 


You resign yourself to your situation (this can be a positive, as it can move you toward Acceptance, Building, and Growth) 


You start to make steps towards a productive job search, such as revamping your resume or attending a networking event 


You assess your career and create goals for your next position 

You’ve grown from the experience of job loss, and you’re off to bigger and better things! 


These stages are important to know because putting words to the emotions you’re feeling during a job loss or career transition is an integral part of healing and moving forward.  

You may flip flop between stages or return to one or another now and then. That’s okay. Moving forward after a job loss is a process, and one that can be made easier with a few dos and don’ts: 

DO let your emotions out. 

DO talk openly and often with your family. 

DO know that you’re not alone. 

DO spend time with a career coach. 

DO NOT call people and tell them about the injustice you’ve suffered. 

DO NOT start sending out your old resume (you’ll need a revamp first). 

DO NOT start applying to every ad or internet job you can find. 

DO NOT isolate yourself. 

Above all, remember that everyone has experienced a career transition. Turn to someone for advice or a shoulder to cry on. Once you’ve worked through these emotions, you’ll be ready to go with your next steps. 


Happy grieving!