Laid-Off or Fired? When Work Doesn’t Work Anymore

Published by 5280 HR on


It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been laid-off or fired, there are feelings of shame and inadequacy that follow. You may be asking yourself:

  • Why me?
  • Why not someone else?
  • What if I had only worked harder?

Or you could be thinking:

  • It’s not fair.
  • My career is over.
  • No one will ever hire me again.

In this post, we’ll challenge you to examine what’s true, what’s not true and what you can do to move forward in a positive way.  However, you should know that life goes on after job loss – no matter how painful the circumstances.  Let’s meet some others who have found themselves in similar circumstances and learn how they bounced back.

Laid-Off Lisa

Lisa was laid off after a successful run as a mid-level manager at a services company.  She had grown in her time there and expanded her role to include supporting other locations across the entire state where she lived. Lisa was driven. She was dependable. Lisa was successful.

However, after almost 6 years her job had begun to get a little stale. Lisa lived to rise to the challenge, but lately the truth was that she just wasn’t all that engaged anymore. In retrospect, Lisa was ready for a change long before she was laid-off. 

Then something unexpected happened that would change Lisa’s career trajectory forever. The economy tanked! Lisa helped put together lay-off packages for her team without ever thinking she might be next. However, that is exactly what happened.

Upon getting the news, Lisa was devastated and angry. She had given the company her all and THIS is what she gets in return. How dare they! Even though she hadn’t done anything wrong, she still felt ashamed and embarrassed.

As the days turned into weeks, Lisa realized she needed help moving forward. That’s when we began working together. We focused on letting go of negative beliefs around her job loss. She also learned to quieten the thoughts from her inner critic while listening more to her inner leader. 

Once Lisa got focused an organized, it was a matter of weeks before she was in final interviews. She put the same hard work into her job search as she did in her actual job and it paid off. It came as no surprise to me that she had an offer when her severance ran out and never missed a paycheck!

Fired Francesca

Francesca was a wreck after her job loss. She had been a successful executive who was mistreated and psychologically abused by her former boss. Very successful and hardworking, she was knocked to her knees by being terminated. She hadn’t done anything wrong. It didn’t make sense. 

Francesca also felt ashamed. After all, she had always been labeled as a high performer. She was good at work and she knew it. She was the one doing the firing, not the one being fired.

Through reflection and time, Francesca came to realize that she was just as frustrated with her employer as they were likely frustrated with her. She had outgrown them. Their values no longer aligned with her own – making work more of a chore than a joy. Losing her job gave her the push she needed to make some positive changes in her life.

Francesca used her job search for self-discovery. She also recharged and reconnected in a new and meaningful way with her spouse and son. Through coaching, she came to realize that she had defined herself by her career. Because she found her value mainly through work, she felt lost and useless once it was gone. We worked to help her rediscover joy in other parts of her life AND find a new role that was a much better fit. Francesca tells me that she is now happier than she has ever been and it’s mainly because she is making a contribution at her new employer AND also has boundaries around her personal life. 

Life After a Job Loss

Depending on how much your job is a part of your identity, losing a job can be like losing a loved one. Whether you are laid-off or fired, you experience the stages of grief: 

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Keep this in mind as you experience heartache in the days, weeks and months ahead. What you are going through is very normal. Feelings of inadequacy and even questioning your worth may be part of your journey. Insomnia and fear of repeated failure are also par for the course.  You are not alone. Anyone who has lost a job has experienced many of these aftershocks, if not all of them.

If you are stuck after a job loss, it’s a good time to consider working with a career coach.  They can help normalize things that you are experiencing and bring an outside perspective. If you aren’t sure if coaching is right for you, check out our free white paper: Is Coaching Right for Me, Right Now?

Most of all, know that this too shall pass. It won’t be like this forever and one day you’ll look back and realize all you learned during this season.

Additional Resources:


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