You’re fired?! Recovering self-esteem following a job loss

I have lost my job a couple of times, and of course contracts terminate, so what is to be done?

David Rigby
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A few months ago, a friend told me he was being abused by his employer. I broke the cardinal rule of coaching and told him to leave. His response was: “How can I leave? I need another job first.” He was so overworked and stressed that he had no time to find another one.

Last week, he finally had enough and resigned, with no other job to go to. I have spent hours with him since - he is not in good condition, and potentially clinically depressed.


I have lost my job a couple of times, and of course contracts terminate, so I am used to looking for the next opportunity. He is not. So what is to be done?

The past

- Analyse the past

- Remembering the saying: “There’s no such thing as failure, only feedback.”

- Look at what you have learnt from the last job, and its termination

- What did you do well in your last job? What skills did you learn?

- What could you have done better in the last job? How will you ensure that next time you will be better?

- If you were terminated, what were the reasons?

- Often it can be that the organization needs to reduce its staff or has relocated. Maybe no matter how well you did, there was no requirement for your skills anymore.

- Maybe the skills you offer are not the ones required for the job as it became.

- Perhaps you were promoted out of your skill set. Many organizations promote people because of technical excellence, and expect them to succeed in a managerial role.

- You may have made some indiscretion.

- You may have had targets that were not achievable.

- If you resigned, what were the reasons?

- Did you not get on with the boss? Most people leave a job because of their boss.

- Were you constantly criticised and unrecognized for good work?

- Were you expected to work ridiculous hours for no extra money?

- Was there lots of responsibility and no authority?

To quote Captain Jack Sparrow: “It’s not the problem that’s the problem, it’s your attitude to the problem that’s the problem.” If you dwell in despair, you will not get very far. However, the “this has happened, let’s get on with it” approach can see you to a better life. That is the analysis of the past - the future is a great opportunity.

- Learn to love yourself. One of the great shocks of losing a job is loss of self-esteem.

- Write a list of your achievements. Include personal ones - finding the right partner, looking after your parents and kids, and charitable acts.

- Remember good friends and great moments.

- What did you achieve in your last job despite the dreadful management?

- There is a tremendous inclination to hide. When I lost one job, I did not approach work colleagues. They approached me so see if I was alright - we are still in touch 30 years later.

- Find those who believe in you. If they believe in you, why should you not believe in yourself? I panicked when I got a coaching client with a PhD in psychology. I got over it by reminding myself that she believed in me, so I should. It all went very well.

The future

You have analyzed the past and got back some self-esteem. Now is the time to plan your future. You will always do better in a job you love, so work out what kind of job that is. Over several hours I discussed the above with my friend, then moved onto “what next?” I discovered that all his life he had been discouraged by family to study what he wanted to do. This is an opportunity to turn yourself into the person you always should have been.

- Decide who you are going to be.

- Decide what you are going to do.

- Identify what you need to learn.

- Learn and become.

- Construct your job-hunting material to reflect that.

One of the best ways to get a new job is to make yourself findable on social media, especially professional networking sites. Get yourself a cracking short CV. Focus on the areas of your past that contribute to your future vision, and minimize those experiences that do not. If you have not got the experience, you need to volunteer to get it.

Many jobs in the Middle East come to those who know people. They are never advertised. Go out and network - learn your 40-second elevator speech. Everyone I have known who has come to the Middle East to find work eventually found it. If you are starting a new career, Maya Angelou says: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Until then, “fake it until you make it.”

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