Top Reads for Career Transition and Job Loss

Two of the strongest motivators at work are certainty and autonomy. Autonomy is something we can strive for ourselves and empower in our colleagues, but with today’s economic woes, certainty is much thinner on the ground. In an era of downsizing and out-sourcing, we are increasingly thinking of ourselves as ‘self-employed’ with limited loyalty to companies. Below are three of my favourite books on job loss and redefining yourself through a job transition.

Cliff Walk by Don Snyder.  This is a poignant memoir that both my husband and I loved. Snyder was an English professor with 3 children and a newly expectant wife when he was fired from his ‘safe’ academic post. What followed were months of disillusionment and desperation and ultimately a personal redefinition for himself. He had to readjust psychologically to take on a role as an unskilled construction worker and to find dignity in the kind of work he’d run from all his life. An inspiring read for anyone undertaking a period of reinvention after a surprise job loss.

Rebuilding your Life after Redundancy by Janet Davies. In a tough economy, I’m surprised there aren’t more books aimed at those recently made redundant or those fearing that eventuality. Janet Davies penned this guide after her own reinvention as she struggled to find resources for this highly capable yet stigmatized demographic. She covers everything from coping emotionally and managing your finances to finding new opportunities through interim roles, freelancing, web entrepreneurship to retraining.  The subsequent websites she set up and go even further. I’d recommend it to anyone who has been blind-sided by redundancy or just wants to get back into the job market. Visit for even more resources.

Bait and Switch: The Futile Pursuit of the Corporate Dream by Barbara Eherenreich. I found this book fascinating as a portrayal of the increasing poverty and despair within America’s white collar corporate workforce. The book details the demoralisation amongst modern white collar workers who, she posits, largely fall into two groups: job seekers and those who live in fear of unemployment – recognising they are just one round of lay-offs away from being expendable themselves. Posing as a unemployed white collar worker she enters the almost surreal world of internet job searches and lonely networking events. She rightly criticises professional mentors and coaches who offer empty self-help mantras to increasingly desperate would-be employees. The book is poignant, dispiriting at times and even blackly funny, but certainly a must read to understand the modern economy and how it can make casualties of us all.

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