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You Lost Your Job: How To Deliver The News To Your Family, Friends, And Prospective Employers

Losing your job is hard, no matter the circumstances. Whether you were happily employed in a role for years or were dreaming of the day you could quit a dead-end job, it’s never ideal to have the decision made for you.

Of course, a job loss presents a serious problem due to the loss of income and benefits, but there’s another tricky issue to maneuver: delivering the dismal news to others. Losing your job can come with a mess of emotions, including disappointment, despair, and dread, and telling people can be daunting. Well, we’ve got some words (don’t we always?) that can help you communicate the not-so-happy news.

Laid-off, fired, or furloughed?

When it comes to losing a job, the terminology about your termination matters, particularly when you’re looking for a new job.

In general, being fired means you’ve been let go due to a performance issue or something the employer believes you did wrong. Being laid off is a phrase that typically refers to a situation in which the employee isn’t at fault, but they had to be let go due to circumstances, such as when a struggling company can’t keep all its workers on the payroll.

Furlough, which is often used as a military term, refers to a case in which an employee is laid off temporarily. When this word is used, there is usually the possibility that they’ll be able to return to that position at some point in the future. Clearly, being furloughed is the most favorable, while being laid off is better than being fired. First evidence of the word furlough dates back to 1615–25, and it stems from the Dutch word verlof, meaning “leave, permission.”

Educate yourself on all the differences between furloughs and layoffs so you can be prepared for any situation.

Other, less-formal and more nebulous terms for losing a job include getting sacked, being let go, getting canned, and getting axed. As for the word job itself, first evidence of it dates back to 1620–1630, though its origin is unknown.

Delivering the news

While there are those who simply post the news of their job loss on social media and let the cards fall where they may, most want to let people know of the loss a bit more delicately. As with most things in life, knowing your audience and catering the message accordingly is key.

Telling your family 

Losing a job may bring on feelings of anxiety, shame, and inadequacy, and though it may be difficult, sharing the news with family members can be cathartic. Their initial reaction may be emotional as well, but delivering the news with a theme of optimism, pliancy, and resilience can help, particularly when children are involved. Reassure them that this happens, and that everything will be OK.

Don’t be afraid to ask for support and share your feelings of frustration and loss, though. You may say something like, “I’m really sad about losing my job, and I’m going to need your support.”

Telling your friends and neighbors

As humbling as it may be, sharing the news with your friends and acquaintances is likely inevitable. Being upfront about what happened can squash any speculation or rumors, and they also may also be able to tip you off to other employment opportunities.

Just be sure you don’t badmouth your former employer, no matter how angry you may be about what went down. That’s not a good look for anyone, and you never know which prospective employers may hear or see your comments. Keep it short and sweet, particularly on social media. For example, “After [X] years, I’m no longer working for [X company]. I’m on the lookout for new opportunities, so hit me up if you hear about any.”

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Telling your prospective employers 

When looking for a new job, be upfront about why you lost your job. Above all, never lie. Be honest and put a confident, positive spin on how your skills will transfer well to a new opportunity. You might say something like, “While I thrived at [X] for years and am proud of my accomplishments there, I feel like I’m ready to expand my reach and take things to the next level, which I feel I can do in this role.”

If you were laid off, be sure to explain why the company had to let people go, and, assuming you weren’t the only one, let them know that, too.

Losing a job is one of the most stressful things to face, but it happens. Telling people is not only inevitable, but it can help you get the emotional support you need and may even lead to new opportunities. Eventually, you’ll be contemplating a much brighter announcement—how to tell people you got a new job.

They say no news is good news, but for some, the best news is having a baby! Find out how best to share that announcement.

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