Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Recovery from job loss takes two years?

Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal, an interesting set of thoughts about job loss:
Whether you've lost a job or a girlfriend, it won't take long before someone tells you, Dust yourself off. Time heals all wounds.
Yes, but how much time? 
Experts say most people should give themselves a good two years to recover from an emotional trauma such as a breakup or the loss of a job. And if you were blindsided by the event—your spouse left abruptly, you were fired unexpectedly—it could take longer. 
That is more time than most people expect, says Prudence Gourguechon, a psychiatrist in Chicago and former president of the American Psychoanalytic Association. It's important to know roughly how long the emotional disruption will last. Once you get over the shock that it is going to be a long process, you can relax, Dr. Gourguechon says. "You don't have to feel pressure to be OK, because you're not OK." 
Some experts call this recovery period an "identity crisis process." It is perfectly normal, they say, to feel depressed, anxious and distracted during this time—in other words, to be an emotional mess. (Getting over the death of a loved one is more complicated and typically will take even longer than two years, experts say.)
Two years. That sounds about right, even though I have no real experience with something as painful as job loss or a divorce. (I wonder if there is a similar emotional toll from a particularly long job hunt -- probably not.)

I wonder if the HR counselors who show up during site closures and layoffs and the like tell people that: "I know today sucks, and yes, it's going to be hard for you to find a position. But keep your chin up, and 2 years from now, you'll feel better." 

12 comments:

  1. Easy problem to solve: just do a job you're kind of indifferent to and it won't make a whole lot of emotional difference if you lose it. This is one advantage working as a poorly-paid bench type in an academic lab. If I lose my job? Meh.

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    1. That would be true, except for the fact that we need a salary for shelter and food. In other words, wage slavery.

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  2. So how do I stack up?

    I was laid off very unexpectedly (and it was very difficult to handle as you noted). After 6 months, I found another job, but that only lasted 8 months as I was laid off from there too. So that was 2 lay offs in 14 months. (After 7 months, found another job and have been continually employed since.)

    But the other way to see this is that during a 21-month timespan, I only worked 8 of those months. That was unnerving.

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  3. "I wonder if the HR counselors who show up during site closures and layoffs and the like tell people that: "I know today sucks, and yes, it's going to be hard for you to find a position. But keep your chin up, and 2 years from now, you'll feel better."

    No, they show up and say "Sign this document containing a non-compete clause, a secrecy clause with respect to the terms of your layoff, a ban on applying for future openings at the company, and reminding you that folks who survived the layoff will not be able to give you letters of recommendation and that the company never ever wants to hear from you again, and you can have your severance. Now give me your badge and get the heck out of here".

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    1. Yeah, I was afraid of that.

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    2. The fact that the company (a big one that you certainly have heard of) bans employees from recommending laid-off workers for new jobs was the biggest kick in the nuts. Of course, they do this because they don't want to get sued when your ex-boss says the wrong thing to the interviewer, but it sure makes finding three good references hard to do if you have been with the company for a while. Well, unless your ex-boss was laid off, too.



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    3. Unstable IsotopeJuly 31, 2013 at 9:42 AM

      Wow, I didn't know you couldn't get recommendation letters from your co-workers.

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    4. The Aqueous LayerJuly 31, 2013 at 10:54 AM

      My company forbids anything written, but a phone call recommendation is fine. There's a huge gray area with regards to 'endorsements' on LinkedIn, however. I've heard both 'yes' and 'no' on that one.

      No, they show up and say "Sign this document containing a non-compete clause, a secrecy clause with respect to the terms of your layoff, a ban on applying for future openings at the company, and reminding you that folks who survived the layoff will not be able to give you letters of recommendation and that the company never ever wants to hear from you again, and you can have your severance. Now give me your badge and get the heck out of here".

      I was laid off from a sizable pharma company years ago and the process didn't quite go like this. You do sign an agreement, but it is basically that you are accepting the terms of your severance, will not divulge your package to anyone, and not speak poorly about the company in the media. You are also given a copy of your employee agreement, outlining the 2 year cone of silence about what you were working on. My company did not have a no-compete clause. I would imagine for a bench level scientist, these don't have much weight, or use with the job market the way it is.

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    5. Most places with large legal departments limit recommendations from co-workers to name, rank and serial number: yes, John/Jane Doe worked here, there were here from date X to date Y and their job title was Z. (Just the facts, ma'am)

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  4. The two year rule of thumb strikes me as about right.

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  5. The Aqueous LayerJuly 31, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    There were several folks from my layoff that were very bitter about it several years later, to the point that I had to talk to them about letting it go and moving on. Their bitterness was starting to consume them, to the point that prospective employers would pick up on it. No-one wants to hire the angry person.

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  6. "No, they show up and say "Sign this document containing a non-compete clause, a secrecy clause with respect to the terms of your layoff, a ban on applying for future openings at the company, and reminding you that folks who survived the layoff will not be able to give you letters of recommendation and that the company never ever wants to hear from you again, and you can have your severance. Now give me your badge and get the heck out of here".

    There also is a meeting for everyone who got laid off to ask questions to a newbie HR rep who will answer the questions about your pension, severance, retirement, etc. Just hope the folks in the crowd correct all the newbie makes.

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