|Author of Corporate Refugees, Ruth is a counselor and consultant in
private practice.She has spent the last twenty-five years developing workshops,
treatment programs, and training for a wide variety of individual and corporate
clients. You can reach Ruth at her website
you a committed, hardworking professional who was in the midst of
projects you cared about when your company announced a change of
direction that eliminated your job?
Have you been cast out of your
"home" company due to downsizing or reorganizing --
through no fault of your own?
Prior to a job shift — or job loss
— were you part of a team to which you felt a strong sense of
belonging, and whose mission appeared to be fundamental to the
health of the organization?
When you took the position from which
you were laid off, did you assume (or were you promised) a lengthy
tenure that would provide a reliable career track for professional
growth and benefits for your financial well-being — only to have
those assurances suddenly pulled out from under you?
Have you "jumped ship" in
the wake of corporate mergers or acquisitions that signaled your job
would soon be history?
Is your work history spotted with
layoffs that had nothing to do with your job performance and
everything to do with current economic realities in your industry or
the speed of change in your field?
Has constant change inured you to a
wandering professional life, one in which you believe there is no
loyalty between employer and employee, and it’s each person for
If any or all of these questions
describe your situation, you qualify as a Corporate Refugee. Take
heart. There is life after layoff.
The first step is to become educated
as to how best to navigate this sea change in your life. Begin by
understanding the stages you can expect, and making the most of each
one through proactive strategies.
Santa Monica-based eToys.com lays off
700 workers as the biggest blood-letting yet in the dot.com
massacre. There's blood in the streets, mingled with pink slips, as
news of business closures continue to pour in. During the mid-1990s,
1 in 16 workers were displaced by downsizing, reorganization, or
corporate mergers and acquisitions-and there is every sign that the
bursting of the dot.com bubble means more of the same.
Today's job seekers fear a recession,
so they're jumping right into the job search, but can they give
their best if they are hurting emotionally and philosophically? Not
according to Santa Monica psychotherapist Ruth Luban.
Feelings of betrayal and loss of a
sense of place are crippling, and legitimately so, says Luban,
author of the just-released Are You a Corporate Refugee? A
Survival Guide for Downsized, Disillusioned and Displaced Workers
(Penguin Putnam, $15).
Says a displaced eToys worker who
asked not to be named: "I feel ashamed, disappointed,
frustrated, sad. I didn't just lose my income; I've lost a place I
loved to go each day, people I liked, a way to introduce myself,
Luban, whose own parents were
Holocaust survivors, sees precipitous job loss as analogous to the
experiences of refugees having been uprooted from their home
"Even talented IT professionals
who rebound immediately into new jobs--without going through the
loss process--experience the emotional underpinnings of the refugee
experience, resulting in distrust, disloyalty, reduced productivity,
and fatigue," says Luban, who is also the author of Keeping
the Fire: From Burnout to Balance (1996).
Rather, Luban maintains, such
"refugees" should use the opportunity of unemployment as a
productive exodus to a "new land" of opportunity, where
they can emerge better off-and stronger-for what they have been
The workbook-style Are You a
Corporate Refugee is intended to help on that journey of
discovery. It provides specific strategies and targeted resources
for every stage of the refugee process. Publishers Weekly called it
"a practical and compassionate guide to recovery and renewal
that knowingly addresses the larger issues accompanying the
experience of losing a job."
Luban recognizes that leaving the
workforce causes not only a loss of income, but also losses of
identity, structure, and community. Her step-by-step program
addresses these problems and explains how to work through them.
Using case studies, first-person accounts, exercises, and
informative sidebars, she identifies the five emotional stages of
* On the Brink
* Letting Go
* In the Wilderness
* Seeing the Beacon
* In the New Land
By working through each of these
stages, Luban shows how to move through the emotional upheaval of
job loss and return to the workforce with a sense of control and
"The economic shakeout of 2000
has left many corporate refugees to fend for themselves," says
Nick Hall, founder of Startupfailures.com and president of the
Silicon Valley Association of Software Entrepreneurs. Hall
recommends the corporate refugee approach for those "feeling
dazed and confused and not sure what to do next. ... It has
practical tools and insight to get you going in the right
Given the likelihood of continuing
upheaval in the marketplace, Luban--who has spent the last 25 years
developing workshops and treatment programs for people facing life
transitions--hopes displaced workers, or those in potentially
precarious positions or industries, will embrace the "corporate
refugee paradigm" as a means of managing job loss as well as
building resilience for future change.
"I feel brutalized by a company
I loved," laments the former eToys employee, "and I am
afraid to go back into the workforce. This is like a bad breakup
with a guy you really like, and then you never want to date again. I
guess this is how you build the calluses."