Search
Advice » In the Workplace» Leaving a Job » How to Handle Job-Identity Loss
How to Handle Job-Identity Loss

How to Handle Job-Identity Loss

What to Do When You No Longer Have a Job Title

By Denene Brox

It's a question that we all face when interacting with people: "So, what do you do?" And if you're unemployed or underemployed and looking for work, it may be a question you dread answering.

If your job title was a big part of your identity, normal feelings of shock and depression after a layoff may be intensified. But approached with the right attitude, losing your job can be a time to step back and redefine who you are in your life and career.

Debbie Mandel, author of Addicted to Stress, says about 70 percent of the people she works with define themselves by their job titles. "We tend to measure ourselves by our accomplishments -- looking for external validation," says Mandel. "Much of this is rooted in our school days when we were graded for our work."

Need to put your job identity into perspective? Here are some tips to help.

Seek Support

Even with unemployment at nearly a 30-year high, many laid-off workers still feel alone and embarrassed. "They question if they fit in anymore," says Mandel. "A mild depression could set in, and a person becomes distracted and unable to focus -- and worst of all, feels ashamed."

To combat feelings of depression and isolation, strive to be around people as much as possible. Depression and isolation are difficult to emerge from on your own, says Philadelphia-based psychiatrist Joseph Garbely. Join a networking group or a support group in your area. Garbely also recommends seeking professional help in dealing with the loss. "Pre-emptive marriage counseling may be very helpful as the financial and emotional stress mounts daily," he says. "And creating a Plan B, for when you return to work, is an important guard against history repeating itself in the future."

Robin Ryan, career counselor and author of Over 40 & You're Hired: Secrets to Landing a Great Job, advises identifying the one or two people in your life who will cheer you on through this process. "Usually it is not your spouse, who is often too anxious over money issues [to help objectively]," she says.

Balance Is Key

In most cases, we define ourselves most by where we spend the majority of our time and energy. If most of your time was spent working, then losing your job can mean, in a very real sense, that you've lost your life. But now you can channel more energy into creating a more balanced life.

"My analogy is that life is a series of gardens that need to be tended to regularly," Garbely says. "Each garden is vital to one's happiness. If you tend only your 'work garden,' your family, friends, health and faith gardens will shrivel up and die."

Reinvent Yourself

Dominique Browning, the author of Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put on My Pajamas, and Found Happiness, says she experienced depression, isolation, humiliation, fear and anger after being laid off from her job as editor of House & Garden magazine -- an industry hit hard by the recession. "Then I experienced liberation," she says. "The best part of being laid off has been forcing myself into reinvention, and into a different kind of self-reliance."

Browning made a list of things she'd always wanted to do and began redefining her life and her career. "I've reinforced my identity by allowing myself to find strength in the activities I have always enjoyed, by discovering new ones and by giving myself a new work identity," says Browning, who now works as a freelance writer and blogger.

Browning has also learned to never say no to anything. "Say yes to all interviews, yes to all consulting assignments, yes to helping friends find their way," she says. "I'll try anything once, and see where new paths open."

Latest Jobs

AMG National Trust Bank
Posted: 11/24/2014
Boulder, CO, 80111
Independence Blue Cross
Posted: 11/24/2014
Philadelphia, PA, 19103
Franklin Grove Living
Posted: 11/24/2014
Franklin Grove, IL, 61031

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile

 
 
 

Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
ArtBistro
Create and connect.
Excelle
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships
Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Education.org
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military.com
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.

Interviewing

100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2014 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2014.11.0.15-323
eTrustLogo