Nobody thinks about what would happen during a layoff. Regardless of the reason, unless the entire company is shutting down, you can’t help stop asking questions about why you were chosen over someone else, and more importantly, what happens next? The following tips can help you manage the initial steps of surviving a layoff.
Getting the news you lost your job is not easy. Even if your work environment gave plenty of signs you might lose your job, or it came out of left field, you need to address the moment by getting away from it. In other words, the last thing you need to worry about is what’s next. Instead, take a moment to accept the change and shake things off, but always focusing on you. Have fun with friends, go to the movies, or just do something distracting. You will have plenty of time to strategize your next steps.
If you are given notice and can count down the days until you leave, it’s important to get your story straight. You should develop a message you want to leave with others. It could be contact information, your availability to provide consulting if need be, etc. The main goal is you have a narrative that is confident and leave people with a good memory of your professionalism all the way up until your last day.
Before you leave work, make sure you have all the information you need. This could be benefits information, severance pay if applicable, and any other things you need. Check off your list that you have provided everything the company needs so you and the company are on the same page when you walk out the door.
Once you have taken time to settle with your new availability, start the strategy process for finding your next job. Start with your contacts – look at your social media network, but also old emails, business cards, other potential contacts. Don’t be afraid to reach out to cold or distant contacts. When you are seeking employment all options are open. If someone doesn't respond, or doesn't appear to want to help you, move it. It’s a numbers game. Be prepared to go through many dead end meetings and conversations before you can have a shortlist of valuable contacts that can open the right doors of opportunity for you.
Not all social contacts are a fit for your job strategy. Some people might want to spend time supporting you with negative help like how unfair the decision was, or the company is horrible, etc. While they might be well intentioned, its not progress. You need people who will support you, remind you of your key strengths, and help keep you motivated during your search. This network can help you with critiques on your resume or interview delivery. A good support network knows when you need someone to lean on when the search process becomes slow or opportunities take longer to materialize. Check to make sure you get what you need when you need it from others.
It’s tempting when you get news like job loss as an excuse to be a rebel. The thinking is you have nothing to lose so don't hold back. A nasty email to peers or your boss might feel good but it’s a mistake. Stay professional and focused out the door no matter how angry or sad you might feel. Don’t leave a memory with others that you might regret later.
When bills, debt and other personal obligations loom over your head, losing your job can prompt you to rush out and take any opportunity you can get. All at once you feel drawn to your computer to post your resume against all related jobs no matter what, or call friends hoping to get something generic to minimize the gap in time of being unemployed. Job loss is actually a great time to review your experience, what you have learned, accomplished and improved upon that can be applied to your next role. The faster you get focused about what you want next and how you deserve to have it, the easier it will be to identify the right opportunity.
Taking a job loss personally is disastrous to your ability to move forward. It’s natural to question what you did or didn't do to end up in the situation, especially if the reason is not due to plant closure or some other major event where everyone in the company lost their job. The right attitude to adopt is that you are faced with a change and you have a new opportunity to create a new experience. How this happened and why its unfair is irrelevant. You have a career and you have succeeded in the past, so a temporary setback won't erase years of experience. If you need to vent and get emotions out of your system that’s fine. Just don’t dwell on things – channel the right energy to pursue your next opportunity.
As tough as it is to bounce back from being laid off, of the many ways you can grow from the experience, forgetting how the event happened is the worst mistake. What signs did the company give that things were in trouble? What patterns of hires and promotions did you observe that gave you an indication of what the company found valuable? Some of these areas are difficult to ascertain, but the lesson is you have to always be prepared for change no matter how unlikely it seems. Watch your next work environment for clues and keep your networking channels open.
The process of being laid off can be frustrating and challenging if you are not ready to make bold moves forward in your next role. Sometimes events like layoffs remind us of our strengths and highlight the fact that our contributions are better served elsewhere. You don’t have to take being laid off lying down. With the right focus you can make your new future even brighter.
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