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Stop Saying You “Lost” Your Job


Robby

I meet a lot of jobseekers in Indianapolis. I speak at various events in Central Indiana, some of which consist entirely of people who are between jobs. But I’m getting pretty tired of some of the language that’s being used. The worst offender? Saying you “lost” your job.

Sad Man
© Flickr User hang_in_there

That word “lost” is irksome to me. When you lose something, you misplace it. But your job is not something that you normally carry around in your pocket and you figure it must be under the couch or behind the dresser. A job is not like a football that a running back is carrying down the field. A job is not something you hold on to. Rather, it’s just an agreement to exchange the incredible value of your time and expertise for the incredible utility of someone else’s money and stature.

When Indianapolis jobseekers tell me they “lost their job” I imagine them stumbling around in a cornfield after midnight frantically searching for something in the dark. “Losing” something implies that you are a “loser”—a person who can’t be trusted to hold on to important objects. But a job is not an important object. No, a job a mutual acknowledgement that might exist for a period of time. It’s an understanding. And what happened was that you left that agreement.

By saying you “left” a job instead of “lost” a job, you take ownership in the process. Because however the conversation went, that job was clearly not a good fit. So you’ve moved on. Maybe you had to get encouragement to move on in the form of a couple of scary guys from security—or maybe the company was short on money and decided in favor of layoffs instead of asking you to work for free.

Whatever the case, you didn’t lose the job. You left it.

And while I’m at it, you’re not “in transition.” Everyone is always in transition. The word “transition” implies movement between two states. If your last job was a static place where nothing happened and you had no growth or development, and you’re hoping to find a new job which is also static place with no growth or development, well then I guess you are in transition. But why would anyone want to hire you if you were hoping to get to a place where you didn’t have to do anything?

Instead: you’re doing what you’re always doing—seeking opportunity. That’s the same thing you’d be doing if you had a job. Everyone is always looking for opportunity. So why not say that?

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About the Blogger: Robby Slaughter is a productivity speaker and expert. He is a principal with a AccelaWork, an Indianapolis consulting firm.

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Tue, March 18 2014 » Career Planning and Goal Setting, Self Development

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