This week, I received a letter from an Elephants at Work reader. I wanted to share their story because being out of work affects the family not just the person who is out of work. At the end of this post, I suggest some helpful tips.

eBook Cover - What To Do After Being FiredMy husband has been out of work for 2 years.  He was involuntarily terminated from his job. His salary was our family’s primary source of income. This entire situation has been a nightmare for all of us.

I have watched my husband become frustrated and mad at the world for different reasons.  Our home is filled with anxiety and tension. My children are teenagers and they have been directly impacted by our financial instability. My husband has filled out many job applications and each time the answer is the same…. no job offer.

My husband was a police officer for 15 years. Now, I don’t think my husband even knows who he is anymore. Clearly, we need help to find out how to help him get back on track. We can’t afford a consultation, but I will order your book.

I hope it provides us with answers, suggestions and tips about how to effectively fill out job applications. I prayed this morning and asked God for more guidance regarding my husband’s job loss. Then, a few moments later I came across Elephants at Work.  Hope your book helps us! THANK YOU.

Name withheld

The situation this ex-police officer and his family are facing may be what you are facing too. I would like to address two things about this letter – first the loss of ego and self from the husband and second, the effects of being out of work on the family.

I am not surprised your husband is questioning who he is after being out of work for two years. I have seen loss of ego and self in the unemployed in as little as a day. It is like a switch flipped.

Many people define who they are by the work that they do. When you lose your job, it takes a big blow to the ego. You deal with employer rejection and you try to figure out how to move forward. It is a chaotic time internally. You feel like you have lost your purpose in life.

For family providers and breadwinners – their role suddenly changes within the family dynamics. It requires families to rethink their lifestyle until they are able to secure employment. Sometimes the levels of pay they enjoyed are unobtainable and those lifestyle changes become permanent.

Let’s not ignore what is going on in the family. The changes of lifestyle affect them too. There may be arguments about money and sacrifices that family members endure that they don’t understand. For teenagers it is difficult because their peers may be able to do things they knew they could do if only… their father or mother were working. It is those unspoken thoughts that create more stress and conflict.

The culmination of these two things – the loss of work that defines someone and the changes in the role within the family create the perfect storm.

Here are some recommendations for you, your husband and family:

  • Your husband has a right to be mad and angry after being fired or laid off. It is important to figure out how to let go of that anger too. The anger will show up in an interview. Employers will sense anger and it may be a reason why he is not getting hired.
  • The loss of self and ego is real. It is a scary proposition to have to figure out who you really are when you thought you had it all together. Being out of work is catalyst to rethink priorities and to figure out what is really important to you. When you figure this out, you gain confidence and the path on how to get there becomes easier.
  • Engage the family in open dialogue and discussion about the elephant in the room – the financial situation and effect on each person. Have the discussion when everyone is calm – not during an incident. Ask everyone to do some homework ahead of time. Write down what is working well and what is not working well for them and share it with one another during your discussion. Have the kids share their information first. If they are hesitant, ask them to put their thoughts into a jar and one by one pull out a comment and discuss it. It will challenge you and your husband to be receptive to their thoughts and not to pass judgment. It is what they are feeling and is just as real as what both of you are feeling. The ability to air our concerns in a safe environment builds trust and unity. Together, all of you can decide what can be done and what cannot be done given your specific limitations.
  • Find a way to celebrate every small step or win. If you focus only on getting the job, it becomes overwhelming. Take every “no” as an opportunity to learn and develop your skills sets.

Finally, thank you for placing your trust and faith in my eBook, What to Do After Being Fired – I know that you will find many solutions to help you along this journey.