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Career Connexion 

  Managing the impacts of a job loss

In the beginning of 2008, companies in the United States announced job cuts of over 74,000, representing a 69% increase from December 2007. Employees in the financial sector saw the largest reduction, with jobs cut by 177% equivalent to 15,789 jobs lost up from 5,710 jobs lost in December 2007.

It is now 2009 and we are in no better shape than the previous year. As the country continues to bear the brunt of the recent hit of the recession, another 129,000 joined the ranks of the unemployed in January according to a Statistics Canada report. The majority of laid off workers came from the manufacturing industry. Marking the largest monthly job loss on record, the numbers surpassed any monthly reduction during the 1980 and 1990 recessions. As a result, it boosted the unemployment rate up 0.6 percentage points to 7.2 per cent.

Losing a job is one of the most stressful events a person could ever experience in life. There are practical and emotional impacts to losing a job. On the practical side, a person worries about how he or she will pay for the bills; support a family and how he or she will find a new job. On the emotional side, he or she may feel ashamed, depressed, stressed or angry. It is very easy to feel overwhelmed with such a tremendous change in one’s life. Many questions arise like: How do I find the energy to find work? How can I overcome anger? How do I manage my finances?

Practical side:

Check your benefits – Find out from your HR or Pay and Benefits department what kind of severance pay you may receive. This is especially important for those who have contributed to their company retirement plan. It is also a good idea to find out whether or not you are entitled to any vacation pay or unpaid overtime that you may have earned. For temporary financial relief, find out your eligibility for employment insurance (E.I.). A key requirement for submitting an E.I. application is an R.O.E. or record of Employment from the last employer. As you are aware, E.I. provides unemployed Canadians temporary financial assistance while they upgrade their skills or search for work. This benefit will also temporarily assist in resolving some of the “practical” impacts of unemployment.

Ask for help – There are many people who spent all their lives working hard and are ashamed to ask for help. This is probably one of the best and first approaches to consider. Look for resources that are available in the community. One resource is the government --- Service Canada offers a wide variety of job search tools and strategies for the unemployed.

Look for a job – Finding work after a lay-off is probably one of the challenging things to do. It is not easy to find a job immediately after a job loss; however if there is an urgent need for you to get back into the workforce, one option is to take advantage of temporary work. There are recruiting firms that look for people to do temporary work for their corporate clients. Temporary work may not be your first choice but it can certainly help pay the bills.

Emotional side:

Take it easy on yourself – Losing a job ranks near the top of the list of stressful life events. It can be very exhausting and more stressful that when you were working. However, it doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the world. While it is tough to accept the unfortunate event, it is important to understand that it’s normal to feel mixed emotions.

Communicate to spouse (or partner) and family – Losing a job is an event that could affect the whole family. Communication with family especially the spouse is the probably the most difficult part of dealing with job loss. The most important thing to remember is that family members are the most important people in our lives and breaking the news to them is best done as soon as possible. Always remember that they are there to for emotional and moral support.

Losing a job involves a lot of changes and one of the hardest changes is starting over. Being anxious about starting over is normal, but what may not be realized is the fact that it could open an opportunity for the individual and his or her family to pull together. It could be the best time to focus on activities that give life meaning such as participating in religious and community projects. Count your blessings especially those that are priceless – family, faith and friends.

Sources: Economy sheds 129,000 jobs in January (Canadian HR Reporter, Feb. 6, 2009); More Economists Signal Recession (The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 8, 2008); Employment Insurance, Service Canada (

Michele Majul is an HR Professional with Canada Post Corporation in Prairie Region. She graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology and a Certificate in Human Resource Management.


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