Former hospital chaplain focused on helping unemployed

Former hospital chaplain focused on helping unemployed


by BOBBY SISK / NewsChannel 36
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Posted on August 20, 2010 at 6:34 PM

Updated Friday, Aug 20 at 6:35 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Two years ago, Rev. Elizabeth Hyland lost her job with absolutely no warning.

Now, the Charlotte area native is on a mission to help other jobseekers and her efforts go way beyond a polished resume. 

"I made a big life transition and went back to seminary and became a hospital chaplain, which I loved doing. I did it for 14 years," said Hyland.

All of that came to an end in the spring of 2008.

"One morning the CEO called all the managers and said he was leaving the organization and at 3 o'clock he paged me to his office and said, 'I've eliminated your job.' It was totally out of the blue and totally unexpected," she recalled.

Hyland remembers feeling numb and then angry.

"It was very tough, because people were not losing their jobs then, and when people would say, 'What do you do?' And I would say, 'I'm unemployed,' they would sort of go, 'Oh,' and give you a look of what did you do to lose your job?"

For 15 months, she applied for position after position without success.

"I started to think, 'How do I reinvent myself? What skills do I have that I can use and market?'" she said.

She turned her experience as a hospital chaplain into life coach, inspirational speaker and now author.

"I started to write my stories down, mostly as a way for healing myself. I would write, 'I'm angry today. I'm frustrated I can't find a job. I'm waking up in the middle of the night and I can't go back to sleep' -- and it turned into a book."

The book, " Surviving the Unemployment Roller Coaster: From Stress to Success," is a self-published collection of 31 short morale boosting stories. Hyland feels uniquely qualified, considering her own role as jobseeker.

"I think one of the 21st century skills is learning to reinvent you because a lot of the jobs that people have had no longer exist.  The job you may have done, you can't find work in that field," she said.

Hyland offers some simple tips, which start with taking a deep breath.

"There is an old Yogi saying that if you're in control of your breath, then you're in control of your life," she said.

Next, find things that help you relieve stress. For many people, it's a walk or a daily run. She also advises finding a support group outside your family.

"Somebody who can hear your struggles, hear your story and reflect back to you and also be an accountability partner," she said.

With a master's degree in divinity, she feels adopting a spiritual practice that you like can also prove helpful. And finally, catalog what you do have instead of only thinking about what you're missing.

"This book really is to remind you that even as an unemployed person you are very successful for whom you are as a human being. It gives you some really good tips and strategies to deal with the stress so that you walk in (to a job interview) and you feel good about yourself," she said.

Fifty cents from the sale of each copy of Hyland's book will go to the Community Culinary School of Charlotte, which trains the chronically unemployed in food service.

To read more from Hyland, check out her website at  

She also helps the Presbytery of Charlotte with its Lunch and Learn series. The next one is Thursday, August 26 at First Presbyterian Church in Pageland, S.C.