Book Review: 'Tech Grief: Survive and Thrive Through Career Losses'

People who work in tech are often very grounded types, who find beauty in the clarity and solid foundations of science, logic, and mathematics. But the tech field is notorious for the fluidity of its job market. 

Mergers, acquisitions, layoffs, reorganizations, and staffing changes create an environment in which every tech worker will almost certainly have to go through unwanted career changes. In their book, Tech Grief: Survive and Thrive Through Career Losses, authors Denise Palm and Linda Donovan help guide these grounded techie souls through the deep emotional waters they’ll need to face.

Emotional self-knowledge for the left-brained

“Healing,” they write, “is internal and requires introspection and emotional work to achieve the desired outcome.” This may be new territory for the tech-minded, who are often focused on left-brained logic rather than right-brained emotional self-knowledge. Using a framework based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs  and Kubler-Ross’s well-defined grief process, Palm and Donovan guide the reader gently into the realm of their own internal emotional world where they can begin a self-healing process.

Losing one’s job might seem, to a practical individual, to be an economic problem, with a financial solution. But job loss also impacts a person’s self-esteem, their sense of security, their social world, and the structure and flow of their daily lives. The resulting feelings of inadequacy, anger, frustration, and pain can lead to depression or anxiety if they’re not acknowledged and dealt with. The logical processes laid out in Tech Grief create a comforting road map to emotional recovery. 

Acknowledging loss, grief & finding meaning

The first section of the book helps the reader acknowledge all the losses he may be facing, roughly following the rungs of Maslow’s Hierarchy, and includes chapters especially for those who are forced to return to their parents’ home and those who are facing job loss at age 50+. 

The book’s middle section takes the reader through the stages of grief, using Kubler-Ross’s model to move through denial, anger, bargaining and depression into acceptance. 

The final third of the book is devoted to the search for meaning. Because ideally, finding another job isn’t just a financial solution but an intersection of meaningful work with an individual’s life purpose. 

If you, or someone you know, has lost a job in the tech field (or is tech-minded and has lost a job in any field), Tech Grief is a very good resource for dealing with the emotional aftermath and preparing to set back out into the job market.