Appropriate Behavior after Separation

Don’t pick up that phone yet!

When you first learn of your separation, your first instinct may be to hit your network, send out resume and race into your job search with a full head of steam.  After all, you didn’t get to this point of your career by just waiting for things to happen.  However, you don’t want to burn out a good contact before you have taken the time to adjust to the new situation and conscientiously develop your career plan.  Start by taking some time to insulate yourself from the outside world. Be kind to yourself and those close to you.  Don’t seek immediate solutions to problems.  Don’t worry about contacting executive recruiters just yet. Save your network until you are in a better emotional state. While it is tempting to dust off your resume and email it right away, take some time to do this right.  Don’t call friends and colleagues back at work.  Above everything else, don’t say negative things about your former employer – either in person, on the phone or online.  Now is the time to manage your stress and to begin thinking of your future.  Some things you should begin doing include:


Start with the Right Mindset

You need to remain positive and motivated throughout your entire job search.  Nothing worth achieving was ever accomplished without hard work and some degree of challenge – this is no different.  You have to believe in yourself, believe that you can add value and contribute to your next employer, and believe that you will succeed.


Keys to a Successful Mindset:

  • Accept that this process – your career, your job search success – is your responsibility, no one else’s.
  • If you hold any grudge against your last employer, let it go – those negative feelings are poisoning you.
  • Associate only with positive people…negative people, those that complain and blame others for their problems, will only suck the energy out of you, whereas positive people will keep you motivated.
  • Accept the fact that you may face some challenges or disappointments along the way, and prepare for them…if they don’t happen, terrific; but if they do, you’ll be prepared and they won’t derail you.
  • Use whatever positive support is available to you – spouse, friends, clergy, whomever.

Social interactions. Talking with others at work provided a needed emotional outlet.  It was safe to share a complaint or disappointment, express anger or celebrate a business milestone with colleagues.  With this outlet gone, you must identify new ones.  Find a support group that allows you to verbalize your emotional reactions to events.  Consider talking with a mentor, friend, family member or therapist.

An identity.   Many people gain their personal identities from their jobs.  For them, losing a title is disorienting and depressing.  But your identity hasn’t changed because of your job loss.  You still have the same talent, wisdom and experience.  You just don’t own the title on your old business card.

Refocus yourself and reframe your identity by evaluating who you are.  You may have been called a healthcare executive, but that’s not who you are.  You’re you, and that hasn’t changed.  You have the same laugh, values and beliefs, family and relationships.  You aren’t your work, but you do work as who you are.  Your work now is job hunting and it requires discipline and focus.