Avoid mistakes that have a detrimental effect on your wellbeing
KIM COVERT, POSTMEDIA NEWS
Losing a job is a punch in the gut at any age, but when you’re over 40 it tends to hit especially hard. At that age, you likely already have a family, a mortgage and car payments, not to mention a personal investment in the sense that part of your identity is wrapped up in being a person who works at a certain company.
Even when employees are overworked, over-stressed and on the edge of burnout in an unhappy workplace, it can be hard to lose the paycheque, purpose and connections that come with any job.
“The way people react to unemployment varies from angry and frustrated to sad and depressed. A few … are actually relieved,” said Stephen Laser, author of Out-of-Work and Over-40.
“For the vast majority of people who suffer the untimely loss of a job, however, there is the immediate response to take action and go on the offensive.”
Laser lists mistakes the over-40 unemployed make that have a detrimental effect on their financial and psychological health.
• Suing their former employer. There are times when a lawsuit is the appropriate action. But they’re expensive, take time and can be a drain on your mental wellbeing.
“Instead of focusing forward on your job search, you will be spending your time looking in the rear-view mirror,” he said, adding that prospective employers may take a dim view of someone who has sued a former boss.
• Hiring an expensive career coach. Many of the services offered by career coaches are available elsewhere for less money; many churches, for example, run support groups and may employ congregants who offer up their counsel as volunteers.
Along with government employment centres, many communities have career resource centres that also offer low-cost support groups and individualized coaching and counselling.
There are also a host of resources online to help you polish your resumé and interviewing skills.
• Paying too much for a degree or special credential. People want to keep busy and feel like they’re doing something; seeking extra credentialing is a natural response to losing a job, says Laser. But before you go back to the classroom, ask yourself: is there a market for the job skills you’re adding to your CV? If you’re able to get a job in the field, will it pay for itself over the remainder of your career or will you have racked up student loans for very little return?
If you want to keep busy and learn something new, Laser suggests continuing education: much less expensive than university courses but could add enough to your skill set to make your experience more attractive.
• Going into business by yourself or buying a business. “After years of working for intolerable bosses or companies [that] change direction at the drop of a hat, the temptation to run your own business can be very alluring,” said Laser. But running your own show takes skills, knowledge and a lot more time than salaried work.
“Are you willing to put in 80 hours a week, netting out less than the minimum wage when all is said and done? Do you want the responsibility of supervising other people?” Talk to entrepreneurs before you pledge your severance to a pipe dream; find out what running a business means and consider whether you have what it takes. •
© Postmedia News. Article appears on www.working.com.