Expert tips on coping with job loss

December 7, 1995

EDITORS: Richard Price directs the Michigan Prevention Research Center at ISR, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. The associate director is Amiram Vinokur. Both can be reached at (313) 763-0446.

ANN ARBOR—You’re all set to do some holiday shopping when the boss calls you into her office. Happy holidays? No. You’re one of a growing cadre of American workers who find themselves out of work, or down-sized into jobs with smaller paychecks. What should you do besides saying Bah, humbug and swapping that holiday shopping spree for an extended bout of job shopping?

For more than a decade, Richard H. Price, an organizational psychologist at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR), has conducted research on how to cope with job loss. Price offers the following advice:

–Recognize that you already have a new job: finding a job.

–Assess your transferable skills and personal assets as well as your professional experience. Your hobbies and volunteer work may qualify you for types of jobs you may not have otherwise considered.

–Mobilize support and help from others, including spouse, relatives and friends, for practical assistance with resumewriting and transportation as well as job leads. Give back to them, too, by helping out with child care, yard work, wrapping presents, doing errands.

–Plan for setbacks. You’re bound to be rejected, not just once but again and again. Inoculate yourself against rejections by anticipating them and preparing a game plan on what you’ll do next. Then, when the inevitable rejection occurs, you won’t be flattened but will know how to proceed.

–Even after you land a new job, recognize that it isn’t likely to last forever. “The labor market is more uncertain than it has been for a long time,” says Price, “and it’s not going to settle down any time soon. Jobs as we know them—full-time permanent positions with fringe benefits—are disappearing, and they’re not just going overseas, they’re evaporating.

“In the new world of work, everyone is always on the market.”