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Lost Your Job? Take the Time to Reflect Before Seeking a New One!

Debbie Bunch

January 29, 2024

You just got an email from your manager asking you to stop by her office after your shift. It’s not time for your annual review, so you are necessarily wary. What could she want?

It doesn’t take long after you sit down in front of her desk to get the answer. The big merger between your hospital and the one across town has led to the need for fewer RTs and you unfortunately are one of the ones who’s being cut. In the blink of an eye your life has been turned upside down.

Losing a job is never a good thing. Even if it’s a job you didn’t really like anymore and were thinking about quitting, there’s just something about being told to pack up your things and exit the premises that leaves people shaken and feeling considerably less confident in themselves and their abilities than they would have been had they been the one to initiate the separation.

What can you do to get yourself back on track? According to researchers from Switzerland publishing in a recent edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, taking just a few minutes to reflect on values that are important in your life can make a world of difference.

Two groups

The study was conducted among 532 unemployed people in Zurich and another 334 people recruited from the U.S. and Europe who participated online. Nearly 46% of the people in Zurich had completed a university degree and about 37% of those in the U.S. and Europe had as well.

The participants were divided into two groups, each of which received a list of 13 general values such as health, sports and fitness, nature, belonging to social groups, and the joy of learning, to consider. Then one group, deemed the reflection group, was asked to spend 15 minutes writing a text on why two or three of the values on the list were important to them and how those values have been reflected in their own lives.

The other group, deemed the control group, was asked to write on two or three of the values for about 15 minutes too but were instructed to focus on those they found least valuable.

Results showed people who focused on important values were twice as likely to find a new job within four weeks as those who focused on values they deemed unimportant, 13.7% vs. 6.2%. Among people from Zurich who took part in the study, the job success rate over four weeks in the reflection group was triple that in the control group, 11% vs. 3.4%.

All the participants in the reflection group received more job offers over four weeks than those in the control group as well, and the reflection exercise was just as successful in people over 50 and in those who were chronically unemployed as others.

Recognizing strengths

The effect of the exercise wanned after eight weeks, but the investigators believe these findings suggest reflecting on important values after a job loss can help people better recognize their strengths and communicate those strengths to potential employers.

And that, in turn, can lead to more and faster job offers.

Read more about this study here.


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