Lost your job? Don’t make a hasty decision you’ll regret

By Scott Sargis
Published In The Chicago Tribune
May 29, 2002

I have noticed an alarming trend over my 15 years of recruiting. Candidates who are laid off or fired after a long tenure with a company often fall into a series of short, unfulfilling job stints.

There are countless reasons why this happens, but three prominent ones are:

Many candidates, shocked by an inconceivable layoff or firing, carry “baggage” into the next job. This often poisons the new relationship. Sociological research equates work with worth. Without the stability and prestige of a job, many feel valueless.

Psychological research shows that many make poor decisions under stress. Instead of first dealing with the physiological or psychological trauma, unemployed candidates rush into poor job decisions.

Any of these three reasons can lead candidates to take the first job that comes along. As a result, they fall into a repetitious pattern of short-duration, ungratifying positions.

Before I went into recruiting, I was affected personally by this when, after receiving my MBA, I was fired from my job as a marketing manager after my boss discovered that I was investigating other opportunities.

I was devastated. I immediately joined an import/export venture that proved disastrous.

In my moment of weakness, I neither addressed my trauma from the firing nor thoroughly investigated available job possibilities.

This can happen to you unless you realize several things:

  • First, after a stressful firing or layoff, you should consider a complete physical examination including a stress test. Remember that you are simultaneously fighting two major conflicts: You are battling the trauma of your layoff or firing and you are battling the stress normally associated with starting a new job.
  • Second, if you can afford it, you should consider counseling. This can take many forms, including career or psychological counseling or support groups. It is important to deal with the baggage you bring from your firing or layoff so not to sabotage your next opportunity.
  • Finally, take your time. It is easy to say this, but it is very important. You are an asset to some employer. Wait until the right opportunity arises. Consider taking a contract (temporary work) assignment until an optimum situation materializes. Do not rush to take the first job offered after you are laid off or fired. Take time to improve your physical and mental health after such a traumatic experience. Otherwise, you may fall into a destructive pattern.