There’s a lot to be gained from a movie about job loss.
The Company Men, now out on DVD and available at Redbox, follows the stories of three different men (played by Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones and Chris Cooper) as they deal with something that so many of us have: layoffs. The movie shows how different people cope in different ways, from the ones who lose their jobs to the ones who do the letting go.
The film does a great job at showing the reality people go through when losing a job. The character played by Affleck is the one I’m guessing most people will best relate with. Without revealing too much, the news shocks him, angers him, and puts him somewhat in denial. He keeps telling his wife that they don’t need to put the house up for sale because the next great job is right around the corner. But as the movie shows, that’s not realistic in today’s market. This is something I unfortunately see in Career Coaching a lot. Many job seekers are not seeking out facts about the average time it takes to find work, neither are they taking a serious, honest look at their finances and mapping out a contingency plan. As we see in the movie, a 6-month plan, 9-month plan, and even a year out plan is essential.
I also appreciated the theme of how important it is to reflect upon what has happened as well as upon oneself. Affleck’s character is unable to see how to take effective action steps. Again, without spoiling too much, it’s not until he goes outside his comfort zone and starts working in a job he’s not a perfect fit for that he stops beating himself up for what he thought was his failure in finding work. It’s after this lesson that he’s able to take stock of not only what he’s best at and loves in a career – but what really matters in his life. This is a key learning that seeing first-hand in a movie might help others recognize earlier than the character in the movie does, saving them time and heartache.
One last thing about the film that I want you to keep in mind if and when you do see it: support. Look at how some of the characters have a strong, loving support network of family and friends, while others don’t. It always saddens me when I have a client who doesn’t have the support of loved ones, and as this movie illustrates, that can be a tragic thing.
If you’ve ever been laid off, The Company Men may be hard to watch as it will likely hit very close to home. If you’ve been fortunate enough to hold on to a career you love, the movie might make you nervous or uncomfortable about “what could happen.”
Either way, I think it’s an important movie to see to help put your career – and your life – in perspective.
If you’ve already seen it, what was your take?