Unemployed? Don’t Be Afraid to Talk About It

I’ve never been fired or laid off from a job (thankfully), but I certainly know a few people who have. And in this tough economy, I’m sure you do as well — if not yourself.

While I can’t personally relate, I can certainly empathize with the uncomfortable feeling of trying to explain your current job situation when there is none.

Thankfully, one author offers tips on how to overcome that uneasiness.

When faced with a sudden job loss, many people are “so overcome with shame and embarrassment that they hide beneath a rock and avoid talking about their situation with others,” according to Jean Baur, the author of the recently released book Eliminated! Now What?: Finding Your Way from Job-Loss Crisis to Career Resilience.

Hiding underneath a rock or denying the job loss is not the answer, as that response often leads to more problems, she explains in a statement. What’s more, avoiding the situation certainly won’t open the doors to new opportunities.

“Sustaining a ruse that you’re still employed, so that your family, friends and neighbors don’t know the truth, takes a lot of energy — energy you need for your job search,” Baur explains.

“Secondly, you are virtually guaranteeing that you will have almost no help from your network because no one knows you’re looking for work,” she adds.

And lastly, failing to discuss your job loss “ties you to the past — to your past job, past schedule, and so on, and therefore makes it much harder to move forward,” she noted.

Moving forward is key. No matter what your situation — out of work or gainfully employed — you should always take steps toward realizing your goals or career dreams. Standing still should never be an option.

Here’s what you SHOULD do

Baur suggests a few action steps to get you on the road to job-loss recovery.

Rather than keep your transition a secret, she says, job seekers should discuss their situation with others after developing a “well-prepared message” that acknowledges why you are searching for a new opportunity and how you plan to move forward.

For example, instead of saying “I’m looking for a new job because I was fired from my most recent job” recast it so that it’s more positive in tone.

Instead, say something like: “I am an IT specialist. Unfortunately, I was let go from my previous job after a company-wide reorganization. I see this as an opportunity to find a new position that is both challenging and rewarding, and that utilizes the full breadth of my organizational and technical skills in a company that is growing.”

In this regard, you’ll sound and appear confident and eager to take on new work in a solid company.

Do’s & Dont’s

In addition, Baur offers the following do’s and don’ts for discussing career transition with others:


  • Prepare a simple, clean message about why you were let go. These statements are often built around reorganizations, acquisitions, loss of sales, a reduction in force and so on. Test it on a few people to make sure there are no red flags, she says.
  • Start creating a list of the people you know, she added. List making helps you think of others. “Many job seekers I’ve partnered with, after a week or two of working on the list, think of a really wonderful contact who can open doors for them,” explained Baur.
  • Be aware that this is a “tricky time” for most people going through it and move slowly; you want a strong foundation before you jump into networking and interviews, she advised.
  • See if there is one small action you can take today that will help you move forward, Baur shared. “This could be reading through your resume, making a list of your key strengths, or thinking about the work you’ve enjoyed most,” she noted.


  • Hide, but rather find your own pace and style, and when you’re ready, begin sharing your news with others, Baur advised.
  • Let your bitterness or anger come through in your conversations, except with your closest friends, she said.
  • Introduce yourself in the past tense, such as “I used to be an IT Manager.” It’s much better to say, “I am an IT Manager, most recently with XYZ Company and I’m excited to be looking for….” Baur added.

Eliminated! Now What? offers additional advice on how to rebound from job loss and on finding a new gig. The book, which was released this month, is available at Amazon.com, in major bookstores, and from the publisher at www.jist.com.