Tuesday, July 23, 2019
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Don’t Lose Your Mind When You Lose Your Job

Job loss is on the rise globally and employment experts estimate that at least 250,000 workers are illegally or unjustly fired (wrongful termination) each year and that does not take into account those that were justifiably terminated. Job loss is often the least-fancied topic among employees because it does not bring with it a feeling of excitement to the person to whom it is directed; it does not come with commendation either.

If you have ever been fired, then you are in a better position to tell your story. I bet you, you would not want to be fired again. It is often a devastating and traumatising experience, victims confess.

For some reasons, “YOU ARE FIRED!” takes most victims unawares, I mean, never at a time most them expect, especially when budgets have been made and so many expenditures are lined up and expectations are high. In some cases, such kind of disengagement does not go with any terminal benefit (which could solve the already made budgets), as it is punitive in nature.

It happens…yes, it does. Getting fired, unfortunately, can happen to the best of us, irrespective of your religious, ethnic, and academic background. It can happen even when it is not your fault. Some reasons for lay off sometimes could be as a result of personality conflict between an employee and his/her superior. In this case, an employee’s idea of what the job should be might differ from what his/her employer thinks. Painful though, even when some employees see it coming, they do not have powers to stop it.

No doubt, job loss puts paid to employee’s desire for an uninterrupted flow of income, and an unfortunate change of status. When lay off happens, a new adjective is used to qualify the victim, JOBLESS…, an adjective which the affected employee passionately detest. He/she is added to the statistic of unemployment in Nigeria and the world.

“How do I start over again, jumping from one newspaper vendor and office to another for vacancy adverts, writing applications, submitting CVs, attending interviews, and worst of all, not falling victim to recruitment fraudstars…?” Victor, a victim rhetorically asked.

As a result of the layoff, the victim begins to have sleepless nights, appetite vanishes, blood pressure rises, and victims’ joy is substituted with gloom. If the employee believes in God (as it often the case in Nigeria), religious houses becomes victims’ second home and he/she goes there to ask for his creator’s intervention.

It is more painful when the affected employee is a breadwinner of the family, as it will not only bring pain to the affected employee, but also the entire family whose lives are tied to the employees earnings. To the family of the victim, the employer have taken food away from their table and roof over their heads, and put their kids out of school.

Sometimes, if the victim is a man, he loses his position as head of the household especially when the wife takes over the upkeep of the house. The powers and privileges attached to the head of the household including conjugal rights and the right to be talked to with courtesy all disappears in thin air. I witnessed a case recently.

The kids are not left out as they make mockery of him with unending demand which they know too well that he cannot meet. The man is being treated as an outcast in his own house. He no longer enjoy the comfort of his home where he previously held sway, and so he keeps outdoors to staved pressures from the “cabals” at home.

He refuses to honour invitations even from his friends to events because he is afraid money might be raised, as well as refuses phone calls from “home” people who are notorious for frivolous demands.

If the man is a bachelor, his girlfriend subtly “threatens” to leave him for another man who can “take care” of her. If it is the wife who lost her job, she is being battered because she is not “contributing” to the relationship. My friend shared a similar experience recently.

“Job loss is a terrible experience, I must confess” said Tunde, a bachelor victim recently while recounting his ordeal in the hands of friends and family after he lost his job due to global economic meltdown. Again, a friend of mine who went through thick and thin to secure a bank job was among those laid off as a result of the recent bank reform in the country.

Seeing the apparent psychological effect his predicament had on him, I decide to counsel him before he lost his mind.

Handling Job loss
First of all, do not beat yourself up; avoid looking hopeless and engrossed thinking. All of these are resultant factors to depression which can lead to self-affliction that may lead to loss of life.

As I said earlier, getting fired can happen to the best of us, so do not dwell on it. Instead, focus on what you are going to do next and how you are going to find another job; keeping in mind that another hurdle–the stigma of being fired has just been added to your job search. That said, there are ways you can address this issue and put it in at least a neutral, if not a positive light.

In your quest for a new job, endeavor that all your job search correspondences are positive. There is no need to mention that you were fired in your resume or in your cover letters. In your cover letters, focus on the basics. Make sure your cover letters address the position you are applying for and why, and how, you are qualified for it. That is all you need to do. There is no point in bringing up the circumstances of your leaving until you have to.

When filling out job applications, do not be negative, but do be honest and do not lie because it will come back to hunt you. You can use language like “terminated” if you need to state why you are no longer engaged in the job. If you are specifically asked if you were fired, you need to answer yes. Lying on a job application is grounds for dismissal at any time in the future and could cost you future employment opportunities.

Your next interview
Here is where getting fired is going to matter most. You can be sure you are going to be asked the question “Why did you leave your last job?” Dick Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute recommends volunteering that you were fired even before the question is asked. I personally suggest you tell the interviewer you learned a lesson and explain how you benefited from the experience. Take the negative and turn it into a positive.

Before engaging your interviewer, take time to prepare answers to questions about being fired so you know exactly how you are going to answer. Practice again, so you can respond confidently and without hesitation. The more you say it, the less painful it will be. Again, do not lie. Most companies check references and check background information, so if you lie you are probably going to get caught. Tell the truth and have one story and stick to it regardless of how many people are interviewing you, do not contradict yourself. They will compare notes afterwards and you do not want to have told one person one thing and someone else another story.

Again, do not insult your former boss or your former employer. No employer likes to wonder if you will talk about them that way in the future. Also, do not be angry. Feeling angry after being fired is normal. However, you need to leave that anger at home and not bring it to the interview with you.

Looking ahead
As hard as it may be, and it is hard, you need to get over getting fired and move on. You need to be able to convince employers that, regardless of what happened in the past; you are a strong candidate for the position and can do the job. Focusing on the skills and experience you have, rather than the firing, will help sell you to the employer and will help you get the job.

However, before you begin a job search consider where you stand from a legal perspective. Was your firing legitimate or could it be considered wrongful termination? Are you still legible for a fresh employment ? If you were fired for misconduct or incompetency you may not be legible.

Considering what employees go through when they lose their jobs and what they go through in search of another, I would advise that If an employee like his or her job, secure it by carrying out your tasks with diligence because good positions are not relly easy to come by.

Note to employers
On the other hand, employers need to be reminded that YOU ARE FIRED should be the last option after query and reprimands have been explored. This, would no doubt, cushions the travails employees face when such situation presents itself, as well as reduce high labour turnover in your organisation which more often does not make for the consistency and integrity of the workplace.

You are fired!

Community Stories Nigeria
Community Stories Nigeria (CSN) is Nigeria's leading virtual local news stories provider. Through revolving #CommunityCamera, citizens know what's happening around them, get involved and help make a difference. What www.communitystories.ng does, is to give voice to community issues, often unreported, neglected, under-reported or misreported by mainstream media. CSN exists for the good of our communities and community interest drives what we publish. Our stories are for social good and for the good of our communities. CSN is published by Journalists Initiative for Youth Empowerment (Ji4Ye) to promote public accountability, transparency and good governance at the grassroots

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