You got a Pink Slip – How to Deal with a Job Loss

As we are coming to the end of the year we will see the annual trimming of workforces to meet the economic realities companies face. I have long-time colleagues who got their walking papers in this annual corporate purge. The latest employment numbers show that 71,200 jobs were lost in the month of November and this is the biggest monthly job loss in 10 years in Canada. The economy is giving mix signals as earlier in the year there were labour shortages in certain sectors. Here is a some great advice if your were part of this purge from Trudi Griffin who co authored this piece and was originally published on on  how to deal with a job loss.

Coping with Stress from Losing Your Job

Losing your job can take a toll on your well-being, finances, and self-worth. When dealing with a job loss, work through the stress by finding healthy and productive outlets. Address your finances and make necessary changes to budgeting and spending. Developing healthy habits can help you feel better and get you closer to re-entering the job market. While dealing with a job loss can be difficult, you can have a positive experience during your transition and even enjoy some of the changes you make.

1 Allow yourself to Experience Grief. 

Losing a job is much more than losing your source of income. Your job may be a source of your identity and bring you personal and professional fulfillment. It’s normal to experience grief, so allow yourself to feel it. Accept whatever feelings come and know that they will not last forever.[1]

Pushing your emotions down or pretending they don’t exist will likely result in them coming up at another time, whether you like it or not. So, when you feel anger, sadness, hopelessness, or grief, let it be and don’t push it away.

2. Use effective coping strategies. 

Dealing with a job loss will undeniably lead to stress. Cope with your stress by engaging in activities that make you feel good and relieve your stress in a healthy way. Find an activity that relaxes you and helps you feel calm. Engage in relaxing activities such as yoga, meditation, or journaling. Avoid using alcohol, drugs, or other harmful substances as a way to cope.

3. Ask for emotional support from loved ones. 

While your loved ones can’t solve your problems, they can support you and lend a listening ear. Find someone you trust and talk about your struggles and ask for support. You don’t need to go through your problems alone.Keeping your job loss a secret can make things worse. Know that there are people you can talk to and who will support you.

4. Focus on what you can control. 

You can’t control your job loss or when you will get a new job. You won’t know when an employer will call you back or how many interviews you will get. Instead of focusing on things outside of your control, focus on what you can control, such as getting training, taking care of yourself, and surrounding yourself with positive influences. Think of what is within your control when you feel overwhelmed or stressed out.

5. Find joy through a hobby or activity. 

If you don’t know what to do with yourself and the time you have, find activities that feel fulfilling. Try volunteering at an animal shelter or after-school program for children. Pick up a hobby that’s fun and fulfilling such as painting, dancing, woodworking, or traveling. Losing your job can make you feel like your sense of meaning is gone. Finding an enjoyable activity can help you experience some joy and fulfillment outside of work.

Handling Financial Matters

1. Apply for financial assistance. 

Depending on where you live, you may be able to access government assistance when you become unemployed. Go to your local employment services department in your state or territory to see if you qualify for workers’ compensation, unemployment benefits, medical assistance and insurance, financial assistance for food, and other benefits that can help in this difficult time. You can usually walk in and talk to someone the same day. Bring documents from your previous employer that outline your pay, insurance, benefits, etc. Assistance services can take time to get started, so apply for them as soon as you lose your job.

2. Maintain a budget. 

If you’re not already using a budget, now is the perfect time to create one. Your goal for a budget while unemployed is to save money and reduce your overall expenses. Create categories for your spending such as food, car, rent/mortgage, pet care, or anything else that’s pertinent. Allocate money to each category and stay within the limit you set! Creating a budget will help you prioritize where your money goes and how much you will spend on different items. For example, set up a $200 budget each month for food and start buying foods that are healthy and will fill you up. Skip the restaurants and fancy foods and focus on getting your basic needs met.

3. Save money. 

Your goal right now is to have enough money to get by and not worry about finances while you look for your next job. Cut back on extra expenses by making small changes, such as choosing a cheaper mobile phone plan or cancelling your gym membership if you’ve stopped going. Look for small things you can cut out that won’t affect you too much. For example, use generic products instead of branded items. Avoid buying books or movies. Instead, visit your local library to borrow them. Your library may even have other items available for loan, depending on how well-supported the library system is in your area.

4. Stop unnecessary purchases. 

Losing a job often means a drastic cut in income or no source of income at all. Cut back on any unnecessary spending. For example, if you subscribe to a monthly magazine or promotional box, cancel it. If you eat out for most meals, consider cooking at home. These are simple ways to cut spending that can help you with financial stability. Find ways that you can cut spending without having to make drastic changes. For example, limit your online shopping.

Make a list of your monthly expenses and determine if there are some you can eliminate or decrease. For example, some cable companies will allow you to decrease your monthly plan to a very basic plan for a lot less money for up to 6 months at a time.

5. Make some extra money. 

If you’re struggling to make ends meet, there are some easy ways to make money quickly. Look around and find items in your home that you’re willing to part with in order to make some money. This might include clothes, electronics, books, or jewelry. If you have a spare bedroom in your home, consider renting it out to someone. Sign up with a rideshare company and offer rides locally when you have time.

Look at freelancing job sites online. Some, such as Upwork, Guru, and Remote have a lot of different types of work that people are willing to pay you to do. While making some extra money takes some effort, it can pay off and make you feel more comfortable while you’re unemployed.

Keeping a Healthy Lifestyle

1 Keep a daily routine. 

Not having a job can mean that days feel like they stretch on forever or that you waste time only to realize that the day is over. Create a daily schedule or routine that helps you accomplish your goals and stay productive. Have a set time that you start and end your day so that you keep a general routine.

For example, wake up at the same time each morning and keep a regular morning routine. Go to the gym, then start your job search. It might help to get out of the house when you do work.

2. Get good sleep. 

Sleep often suffers when under stress, so keep good sleeping habits while dealing with your job loss. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on the weekends. Keep electronics out of your bedroom so the light does not disrupt your sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep, try a relaxation routine before bedtime. For example, take a bath, drink a soothing herbal tea, or journal as a way to relax and ready yourself for sleep.

3. Eat healthy foods. 

The food you put in your body may be easily overlooked, but it’s especially important to healthfully fuel yourself when dealing with the stress of job loss. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains such as brown rice and oats. Eat high-quality protein sources such as tempeh. Avoid foods that influence your mood, which might include sugar, caffeine, and high levels of preservatives or hormones. If you struggle with anxiety, stay away from nicotine and caffeine, which can increase anxiety.

4 Talk with a counsellor. 

A counselor can provide guidance and support while you are dealing with your job loss. For example, if you’re struggling with how to move forward or handle your stress, see a therapist to help. If you need help in gaining some direction with your career, consider seeing a career counselor. Find a counselor by calling your insurance provider or the employment center near you. You could also try talking to a career counselor. Career counselors can help you determine if the career you have is the right fit for you. Perhaps this is an opportunity to try something else.

Taking Steps Forward for Your Career

1. Decide how you want to move forward. 

Losing your job might be a new beginning. Decide whether you want to continue in your career path or make some changes. You might want to take your career in a different direction or go back to school. Now is your chance for a new beginning should you want it. Knowing what you want can help you apply for jobs or get training that you need for a different position.

2. Treat finding a job as a job. 

Make finding employment your full-time job. This can help you stay motivated and on task while between jobs. Break up your day as you would at your last job so that you have tasks to complete, deadlines to meet, and different activities to do. For example, spend time looking through job listings, making phone calls, and writing emails. Then, spend your afternoon revising your resume, doing some reading or completing training. Devote your time to finding your next job and get serious about it. Start by researching the jobs and companies you are interested in working for. Then create separate resumes for each type of job you would like.

Use recruiting companies. There are many recruiters looking for people to fill jobs of all kinds all over the world, and they have access to job databases that the general public cannot access. Some companies even hire exclusively through recruiters. By sending your resume to recruiters and following up with them regularly, you can increase your chances of being considered for jobs you may not be aware of.

3. Build your marketable skills. 

Take classes that can help you improve your business skills. Look for classes at your local employment center, park district, or on the internet. Gaining knowledge and skills that employers want can help you get a leg up once you submit your resume. Getting training can also show that you are current in your skills.

Look for training that offers certificates, certifications, or other credentials that you can add to your resume for proof that you completed them. EdX is a great source for free online classes, and they offer certificates and credits. Visit

4. Network with others in your field. 

Attend events, conferences, and lunches where you can meet other professionals and employers. Attend meetups geared toward professionals in your field. Look up job fairs and attend ones that interest you. The more connections you have, the better your odds of finding the job you want.

Trudi Griffin is a Licensed Professional Counsellor putting her clinical knowledge, experience, and passion for research to write about mental health. She earned a Master of Science degree in Clinical Mental Health Counselling: Addictions and Mental Health from Marquette University (Milwaukee, WI), and is a double graduate of the University of Wisconsin Green Bay with Bachelor’s degrees in Communications and Psychology.