Saturday, July 23, 2016

How to deal with a work injury

     You are most likely a hard worker who wants nothing but to get back to work.  You may have been in the same job for a long time.  You may fear or have already been told that you will not be able to return to work in the same position. Ever.  What can you do?  What should you do?

     Fear is often at the core of most unexpected change and an unexpected work injury is no different.  During the initial phases of an injury medical treatment and your job security may be unclear.  The more you can do to clarify your situation, the better you can plan your next steps.

     So, what should you do if you have been laid off?

·                     Stay in constant communication with your employer - it is important that they understand that you want to come back to work as quickly as possible.
·                     Arrange all documents you receive in a folder in order of oldest to most recent.
·                     Keep a journal of all conversations and events - include dates, times, location, expenses, mileage, a summary of what was said or done.
·                     Ask questions and take notes of the answers - write the questions or concerns down as they come to you; you won't remember them at your next meeting.
·                     Take stock of the resources you do have - including your support system; make a list of resources you may still need.
·                     If you have been injured, understand your state's Workers' Compensation Laws.
Do you need an attorney?  A good attorney can help in almost any circumstance and most do not charge for an initial consultation - in most jurisdictions attorneys are paid on contingency (meaning only if you win your case), or from the funds that they are able to get for you.

Another emotion that often enters into the picture when someone is unemployed is grief.  Grief over the loss of:

·                     Function/Physical ability – It can be frustrating, scary isolating, difficult… there are no words that can really cover everyone’s experience if you have suffered a debilitating injury.
·                     Job - in our culture we frequently identify who we are by what we do; when faced with a job loss, it is common to mourn the loss of identity.
·                     Routine – As adults we structure our entire lives around our work schedule and can experience a deep sense of loss of security.

Men often express fear in the form of anger, as they are often not used to discussing emotions.  Women may withdraw and become depressed. The resulting relationship issues are, needless to say, are not necessarily beneficial to healing or the return to work process!

       Acknowledging and labeling these feelings goes a long way toward being able to discuss and work through them.  It can be a great relief just to have someone say “I hear you.” or “I know exactly what you are saying.” or “You have been through a lot.”  Just the validation of what you are feeling from another person can help so much.   What else can you do?  Grief often progresses through stages - not always in the same way, order, or time frames.  However, you may find the following helpful.  Revisit the next section periodically to assess how you are doing and to remind yourself of coping strategies!

Like any loss, a job loss often results in a feeling of grief. Eventually you must mourn the loss of the job and all that it provided: Security, money, self-esteem, status, identity, etc. If you are a new grad or are returning to the work force, you might be grieving the loss or change of a dream or expectation – “shouldn’t I have a job by now” is a common sentiment.

I like this model for dealing with loss. It is similar to the traditional model for understanding grief - the Kubler-Ross Model. But this model provides two additional, more positive stages.  Here is a link to the full model:  7 stages for moving BEYOND the grief. ( 

1.     SHOCK & DENIAL-
In this stage you will feel generally numb – this serves as a coping mechanism to protect you from what may be very overwhelming. If you have recently lost your job you may be unable to think about how you feel about that loss.  It may be difficult to imagine what you will do, and so forth. This stage keeps you moving forward physically and ensures you will meet all your basic needs. 

What you can do: You should take this opportunity to breathe. Literally.  Keep a notebook with you during this, and the following stages. Write EVERYTHING down.  Write down the smallest thoughts and feelings as they come to mind.  Let yourself be emotional and feel.  The worst thing you can do is to block yourself off from your emotions. To refocus:  Keep a separate section for any positive thoughts or ideas that come to mind. You will find comfort in these as you move through the various stages.

2.     PAIN & GUILT-
Pain and heart-break are laced with guilt in this stage. You may relate this period to a lost love from which you suffered in the past.  Self-blame is common: You may feel that you are not worthy or must have deserved your current circumstance.

What you can do: Accept comfort and seek out others who care about you and/or who have had similar experiences. If you know of someone who is currently working through this process themselves - reach out to them.  To refocus:  Think about when you have experienced similar feelings – what helped?  What didn’t?  Repeat those things or techniques that are tried and true.

Anger is normal. You may reach this stage pretty quickly after a job loss, whether through lay-off, illness, injury or takeover. Accept this, express it, but be aware of how you do so – you may need the help of those closest to you during the next days, weeks, and/or months.

What you can do: If it helps, scream into a pillow or an empty field (if you have one available).  You may pound your fists on the bed or jump up and down in a tantrum if you are able.  Sometimes you just need to physically express your anger to get through it.  If you are a religious person, you might find yourself pleading with your higher power at this point.    To refocus:  Continue to write in your notebook (call it a journal if you want).  Ask yourself what you are angry about.  Return to the section of your notebook in which you wrote any positive ideas or thoughts for your return to work or just in general.

It is important for you to “feel” how you feel. You are likely to feel depressed and lonely. You are cut off from your normal social network. The bottom line is just the act of getting up, dressed, out to work every day, and  interacting with others gives you some social and emotional support that is felt missing at this point. You should allow these feelings, recognize them, and think about what support you need going forward.

What you can do: If you are feeling depressed or lonely, take this time to be alone and think about your current situation.  If you feel too lonely, seek out others who you respect and/or have a positive, supportive nature. To refocus: Take stock of your assets (literally and figuratively).  These may include your skills and abilities as well as your financial assets. 

Eventually you will find a rhythm in your recuperation and/or job search and networking and will feel some sort of calm and organization. You may flash back occasionally to feelings of guilt when you realize this. Understand that this is the first step in moving beyond your grief from the loss of your job and that it is entirely NORMAL.

What you can do: Have a goal, complete with time frame and steps that you can take toward that goal.  Make your goal more specific and meaningful than “Get a job.”   For example, will you settle for any job right now and then move on to find a better one?  Or, do you have the resources to spend several months to search for a job at a given level?  To refocus:  Write down your goal and when you want to achieve it (it can be modified if necessary). Develop a schedule (also in writing) that will allow you to reach your goal.  Review your schedule and goal daily.   

As you begin the upward turn, you will eventually be able to think about where you want to be and what type of job you might like to have. For many, this is the first time they have had the opportunity to consider what type of job they might like to do and/or what they ENJOY. Many note that the lay-off, downsizing, or job change was the best thing that could have happened because it forced them to look at what is out there relative to what they have to offer. 

What you can do: Keep writing in your notebook and re-evaluate your progress and which goals you want to keep on a weekly basis. What is working?  What is not getting you the interviews you need to get hired? Try to use a critical eye; if this is difficult, seek the help of a vocational or career expert or a mentor.

Eventually, you will be able to accept that you may not be the same exact person you were before your “loss”, but somehow you are the best you can be. You have made the most of what life has to offer. You are able to move forward, seeking and finding other employment opportunities. It isn’t easy, but it is possible, even if it doesn’t seem so right now. 

What you can do:  You will gain confidence and hope from your activity.  Stay organized and act on every lead as soon as possible without being overly hasty.  Note anything positive that happens during the day, whether or not it is job search related.  Make your plan for the next day so that you have something to look forward to.

You may not progress neatly through these stages, but most people will experience some level of each stage.  Treat this part of your life as a leg of a journey, secure in the knowledge that you will end up where you need to be.  Come back to this section periodically to assess where you are and remind yourself of coping tips.

Suggested job search schedule

Sunday:  Review and apply to jobs online and/or in classifieds (If your local paper comes out on a different day, start this schedule from that day and change the below days accordingly…)
Monday:  Call those ads that request a call and obtain directions/additional information for ads asking to apply in person.  Start with the jobs that you are most interested in and spend extra time to tailor your résumé and/or cover letter. 
Tuesday: Apply in person, return calls of employers who called, attend any job development / training meetings, review job seeking skills material online/participate in groups
Wednesday:  Cold calls and practice interviewing, other job search skills training.  Think about the openings you have identified so far and plan to follow up with them at an appropriate interval.
Thursday:  follow up calls with any outstanding employers, job service, job search from previous week
Friday:  Networking – call friends and identify employers who are hiring.  Call and follow up with Staffing agencies registered with. 
Don’t forget to check major employer/government job boards and checking jobs through the job service and staffing agencies AT LEAST weekly.

Mary Sherwood Sevinsky, MS, CDMS, CCM

Cell: 410.444.1989             Fax:  302.644.1827 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Colors for cancer

I went into Coastal Salon yesterday to get the works before driving to upstate New York to see my family.                                                                                     Michelle, my stylists had a pile of these sections she had knitted and will piece together to make a blanket for one of her customers who has cancer.                                                                                                                          When I asked about the color (since it isn't pink), she informed me that pink is for Breast cancer.  There are different colors for different cancers.  Huh!  Who knew?                                                                                        I'm not surprised that Michelle took the time to find this out (you can look the colors up here )or that she spends her few available minutes knitting a gift for a customer.  That is just the way she is.                                                                                       Her shop isn't large and she doesn't have a bevy of beauticians working for her, but it is full of caring.  You couldn't even call it customer service, that would be demeaning. Caring.  Yup that's the right word.                                                                                                             If you are looking for a new stylist, stop by!  Even if you aren't, stop by and say "Hello!"  You may not end up with her (I and a few other customers are in her books for the next three years...literally). But,  you will be treated like family by daughter, Joyce, or Jaison.
They are colloquial, friendly, occasionally loud, but they always care.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Use a Job Search Schedule to keep yourself from losing it

Sticking to a job search schedule can really help you get results from your job search.  One of the biggest complaints I hear from job seekers is that they get little or no positive feedback for all of the time they spend job searching.  They typically are spending their valuable time applying online to positions...only!

This can be very disheartening, to say the least!  Not only do employers not often provide positive feedback - often they don't even have an auto-responder.  A job seeker may think their resume is being reviewed when it might never have been received. 

Follow-up is a great way to get both positive feedback and ensure your resume has been received. You may even get to schedule an interview. Varying your job search activities will keep you from feeling as if you are hitting your head against the wall on a daily basis.  Click the link above to download your free Job Search Schedule. 

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