This post has been prompted because there have been several announcements in the last 2 weeks about job losses across traditional media of broadcasting and print journalism. The BBC and The Guardian specifically.
I will not be telling you how to find another job. No. This is about understanding what you are feeling right now, and what you might do to feel more in control of what you are going through. it will help you prepare for the future, whatever that may be.
Like grief, there are several – seven in this case – stages to experience when you are facing uncertainty such as losing a job.
- DENIAL & SHOCK – you knew it was coming and that it might affect you, but it is still a shock.
- PAIN & GUILT – why me? What did I do wrong? How could I have done things differently?
- ANGER & BARGAINING – they are wrong. It should not be me. I do not deserve this. What can I do to make it not me?
- DEPRESSION – there is no hope. I will not find another job within the organization. I will not find another job elsewhere. I am rubbish. I have no skills. I will never get anywhere.
- THE UPWARD TURN – Losing my job is hard because I love it, but I need to evaluate it and work out the pros & cons to work out what I might do next.
- RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH – I need to identify my skills and my values and work out what industry or job I might move into. It does not feel as bad as it did.
- ACCEPTANCE & HOPE – I have a lot to offer another job. I must find it, and it may even be better than the last one.
We are all individuals and you will experience these feelings at different times to your colleagues and friends, but you are still highly likely to experience some, if not all of them.
It’s quite normal to also feel panic, uncertainty, fear particularly if you’ve worked at a company for a long time, you are passionate about what you do and you have never had to give any thought to what you might do next.
On top of this crap news, we are in uncertain times. Understanding how you are feeling can help you start the process of feeling more in control about your future. Take it one step at a time. Look out for the different stages. Sit with each stage, acknowledge it and observe how you are feeling. You might then be able to move on. As I say, one step at a time.
I had several ‘first’ jobs. All character building when you are between the ages of 14 – 18.
I started cleaning for my Mum’s friend on a Saturday morning when I was about 14. It was the start of learning the discipline of turning up to work regularly and on time. The home owners were heavy smokers. Even then I couldn’t stand the smell. Regardless of how many windows I opened, the smell lingered, and penetrated my clothes. Urgh. It was my first experience of cleaning other people’s toilets too. You only have to do it once, and your respect for those who do this for a living is immeasurable.
I also worked in an old people’s care home. I was only 16 or 17 and found it way harder than expected. I was involved in changing beds, washing and dressing clients, emptying commodes. It was hard physical work, but it was worse witnessing the deterioration of the residents and it was my first experience of death (apart from my pets). I never forget the look in the eyes of the lady we had to turn because her bed sores were starting to rot, despite the regular change of dressings. She could no longer speak, but her eyes said everything you needed to know – sadness, humiliation, pain.
I also cleaned my school as a teenager. It was a role you could apply for once you had reached the 6th form (Year 12 & 13 these days). I remember it was good money at that age and I took pride in my work. We were paid by cheque every two weeks. A cheque? Teenagers now probably wouldn’t know what that is, would they?
Then there was the washing up in the kitchen of a small restaurant. Kitchen’s get very hot. I worked for the Gordon Ramsey of the 1980s. He would get SO ANGRY when food wasn’t cooked correctly (bear in mind he was doing the cooking!), staff really had to stay out of his way. I remember fresh steaks – a luxury to my family – being slammed onto the floor because he’d slightly overcooked them. Most of the time I had my hands in the sink of hot, soapy water, head down, trying to keep out of sight and out of range of his fury.
Then I spent one summer – well, one week – working at Royal Ascot. In the kitchens. That previous washing up job stood me in good stead, as there was plenty of it! Although the women and men in the Royal Enclosure were dressed to the nines, there was no glamour down below stairs. The waste of food was appalling. Being a naïve 18-year-old I had never witnessed such beautiful food being thrown away for seemingly no reason. Some people older than me, packed it in after 48 hours. I stuck it out until the end of the seven days. It was not an experience I repeated .
All these ‘first jobs’ were character building and stood me in good stead for future employment. I turned up on time, was able to follow instructions, not complain (at least not on the job), be diligent (those plates and glasses had to be sparkling clean. There was no automatic dishwasher back then!). Show empathy (with the elderly residents), good manners, kindness. You forget how important these early working experiences shape you.
Interestingly, each job in it’s own way was people orientated – and that’s where my career has remained.
What did your first jobs teach you?