How to deal with a sudden job loss

Covid-19 raised the number of job losses globally
Photo credit: Covid-19 raised the number of job losses globally

What you need to know:

  • Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows that up to 1.7 million Kenyans lost jobs in the three months leading up to June 2020.

Two months after Kenya confirmed the first case of Covid-19, Josphat Karanu lost his job as the executive chef at a Naivasha restaurant. “I was told the business was struggling and could no longer sustain me,” says the 38-year-old married father of three, “My wife was nursing our three-month-old baby. I had rent to pay, and school fees to save. I needed to start earning again.” He pulled out Sh. 200,000 he had saved and rented a space in downtown Naivasha. “I decided to open a fish, chips, and coffee business. I paid six months’ rent upfront, bought electric cookers, chairs, and tables,” he says. But his new business never picked up because of constant lockdowns.

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In February 2020, Josphat was forced to shut down permanently. “Kenya Railways started demolishing property built on its land. The building that hosted my business was one of them,” he says. Amidst the demolitions, Josphat was only able to save his electric cooker and a few chairs. “I had spent all my savings and had nothing to show for it,” he says.

Like Josphat, thousands of Kenyans have found themselves jobless since March 2020. Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows that up to 1.7 million Kenyans lost jobs in the three months leading up to June 2020. In the three months to September 2020, about 15,547 workers aged between 55 and 59 lost jobs. The hardest-hit sectors of the economy were export processing zones (EPZs), aviation, horticulture, tourism, and hotels. Firms operating in export processing zones shed 8,135 jobs by June. 230,000 jobs in the tourism and hospitality sector were lost as businesses operated under minimum capacity or complete shutdown. 

Are you going through a job loss? These tips can help make your burden easier to bear.


According to Perminus Wainaina, the managing partner at recruitment firm Corporate Staffing, you will need to grief the loss of your job to get your negative, raging emotions out of the way. “Like when experiencing any other loss, grief is a process of healing. You need to accept that you’ve lost your job, heal and move on so that it doesn’t become an impediment to your future career prospects,” he says.

Don’t invest

Investing in a new business idea immediately after losing your job is a mistake. It will make you feel good and back in control but soon it will turn into a bottomless money pit that won’t break even. Newton Nyabwa, a business development consultant says even if you have a great idea that can work, don’t rush to implement it. “Cool off, after all, the idea you think is brilliant has also been thought of by someone,” he says. After a job loss, you’ll not be in the right emotional state to execute the idea. “Only consider investing or starting a business once your emotions and ego are under your control,” he says.

Your daily routine

A job loss will distort your daily routine. If you were used to a 9 am to 5 pm routine, you will find yourself with lots of spare time. Restructure your day so that you don’t bored which can lead to depression. “You’ll lose orderliness in your life. Bring activities such as exercises and hobbies into your daily routine to create a sense of productivity,” says Dr. Robert Chope, the author of The Influence of Family in Career Decision Making.

Have a budget

Start tracking your income and your expenses. “Use an Excel spreadsheet, a notebook, or apps such as Mint, Money Lover, or Unsplurge,” says Rina Hicks, the director at Faida Investment Bank and Certified Professional Coach. Tracking expenses, income, and savings will help you evaluate your money position and keep an eye on unnecessary expenses.

Get professional advice

You will need at least two professionals; a psychologist or life coach and a financial advisor. Robert Ochieng’ the founder of Abojani says that a financial advisor will be better placed to help you manage your investments, especially if you received a lump sum after your job ended. You may also need to go for counseling sessions to manage your emotions and the depressive feelings that accompany the loss of livelihood.

Five job skills you may need post-coronavirus

Certain extra job skills may come in handy as the world emerges from the pandemic. They include:

  • Data literacy
  • Coding and digital skills
  • Creativity, evolution, and innovation
  • Communication and emotional intelligence
  • Flexibility, multitasking, and adaptability

Ten jobs for the future

Certain jobs will have increased demand over the coming years. You can target these as you fight your way back to earning:

  • Software Development and Engineering
  • Healthcare / Medicine
  • Agribusiness
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Labour Law Specialist
  • Tax Accountant
  • Data and Business Analyst
  • Social Media Managers
  • Digital Marketing
  • Digital Trainers / Tele-Trainers/Counselors


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