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Job Search and the Job Loss Cycle

Written by Ann Mossop, Employment Specialist with Next-Steps Employment Centre – Downsview

The various stages of Job Loss were originally researched and identified in 1984 by Dr. Bill Borgen and Dr. Norm Amundson from the Counselling Psychology Department at the University of British Columbia.  In many ways, Borgen and Amundson’s Unemployment Roller Coaster parallels the research of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ ground breaking research into the Five Stages of Grief, as outlined in her book On Death and Dying (1969).

Here are the Stages of Job Loss and some Coping Strategies to help you through the emotions of this difficult period of time. Remember, that everyone’s reaction and timing may be different; however, we all go through the same range of emotions to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the individual.

Job Loss Cycle

Stage A: Shock, Anger and Denial
This stage can last only a few minutes or for several weeks. Find healthy ways to cope with your emotions.


A. Acknowledge your emotions, do not hide them. Start a new routine and include daily exercise to create the structure that comes with working. Plan and schedule your time at least three weeks ahead.

Stage B: Worry and Anxiety
Life feels chaotic and scary during this phase. What will we do next? Breaking this negative cycle is important. Reach out for support and make use of the resources and training programs.
B. Tap into the programs and services offered by Employment Ontario programs, including Next-Steps Employment Centres. Don’t revert back to the way you job searched the last time you were looking. It won’t produce the results you want.
Stage C: Anticipate Job Search
We begin to “accept” the situation and gear-up to look for another job.

C. Speak to an Employment Advisor and tell them your story. Tap into their expertise and ask for feedback to get on track.

Stage D: Emotions “yo-yo” from the Stress of Job Search
Depending on the reaction we get from employers, our emotions will fluctuate. We may feel depression, elation, fear, eagerness, anger, thankfulness, desperation, hope and frustration.

D. Attend workshops to learn the latest and best techniques that meet market and employer expectations. Revise resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn Profile and be your best self in all marketing materials to achieve success. Prepare extensively for interviews. The more prepared you are, the more confident you will feel.

Stage E: The Coping Bridge
A choice between optimism and reaching out or pessimism and withdrawal.

E. Rewarding ourselves for things well-done (ie. getting an interview) instead of blaming ourselves for things out of our control is critical to our positive outlook. Be your own cheerleader and maintain positive relationships and people in your life.

Stage F: Support
Family, friends, government agencies, retraining, self-assessment, goal setting, and exploring other options.

F. Realizing sooner that you need support through this process will shorten your journey to training, education or employment.

Stage G: Re-employment
G. Listening, adjusting and demonstrating resilience will guide you back into the labour market.

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