Coffee heat rising

Beating the layoff stress

For the first six or eight days after I learned about the rumored layoffs, I felt so stressed that my chest hurt. One day at the office I had to lie down on the floor for a few minutes when an anxiety attack started to come on. Determined not to end up in the ER again, I managed to get the feeling that I was about to pass out under control with some breathing and relaxation exercises. But that didn’t stop the scary ache in the chest.

Today, though, I’m feeling a lot better: no pounding heart, no chest pain, no sense of oxygen starvation, no distractibility, and no sleeplessness. For sure, yesterday’s call from one of the employers I applied to helped. Even if I don’t get the job, at least now I have some hope that my age won’t disqualify me from every job I ask for. That was a big worry.

Also, with amazing speed I’m getting more and more comfortable with the idea of not working for GDU—even if it means taking a lower-paying job. Matter of fact, that prospect not only looks less scary, it’s starting to look downright welcome. Although I personally have had relatively little to complain about (other than the months-long PeopleSoft fiasco, the [probably illegal] reneging on an approved job offer I made to a prospective employee, and the overall toxic atmosphere on the campus where I taught), I certainly have seen the administration treat many of my coworkers abominably.

The prospect of being somewhere else begins to look more attractive. So does the idea of a new job with new things to learn and do.

I’m glad I started the job search before any university-wide announcement came down and before I knew whether this next round of lay-offs will apply to me. Just doing something to help yourself, rather than hunkering paralyzed in the headlight while the train bears down on you, goes a long way to make you feel better. It gives you a little sense of accomplishment, and it jump-starts the process you’re going to have to put into gear soon, anyway.

The first cover letter and résumé took a good five or six hours to put together! I thought I was gunna die. If every job application took that much time, how was I going to manage the work for the day job? To say nothing of all the freelance work The Copyeditor’s Desk has taken on?

However, the next application only took 30 or 40 minutes, and neither of the other two took any longer. Because the jobs I’m seeking (with exception of driving the zoo train…) are in the same general family of work and they’re all at nonprofits or colleges, tweaking the cover letter and resuméis pretty easy. It’s just a matter of writing new first and last paragraphs for the cover letter, adjusting the “what I can bring to your job” paragraphs—deleting some of them, moving others closer to the top—and shifting the resumé’s “list of accomplishments” to highlight the items most relevant to a given job. After I realized this, I began to feel a lot more confident that applying for a series of jobs isn’t going to kill me.

And really: if I get an offer from next week’s interview and then learn I’m not included in the next set of layoffs, I may take the job anyway—even if it pays less than I’m earning. The recurring workplace flaps, which seem to come more and more often, are ridiculous. I don’t need to put up with this kind of grief. And besides, the prospect of starting something new is beginning to sound pretty good. Darned good!

The Continuing Saga…

1. Unemployment for Christmas?
2. Does any of this have meaning for individuals?
3. Rumors start to fly
4. On the trail of the elusive job
5. Beating the layoff stress
6. How low can I go?
7. Interview No. 1