Whether it’s “your fault” or not, being let go can be a traumatic experience.
It invariably produces emotions ranging from disbelief and rage to guilt, shame, and depression. It can create financial stress, which often leads to serious anxiety and conflicts within families.
And the sense of uncertainty and loss of control that goes with being laid off can make it more difficult for you to manage a job search in an intelligent and energetic fashion.
But only if you let it.
Whatever you may be feeling when it happens, you are not only capable of surviving a layoff, but of thriving from it. Instead of falling on your face, you can use your roadblock as a launching pad to learn and grow.
So You’ve Been Laid Off, What Now?
There are entire books that focus on the trauma of job loss. There are career counselors and psychologists who specialize in helping layoff victims cope and regroup. All of these are resources you should use for yourself as needed.
Considering all the information out there, I certainly can’t address all the issues associated with surviving a layoff in just a few paragraphs. Nevertheless, I’d like to share the following five suggestions.
- Remind Yourself That Being Laid Off Is Not The End Of Your Career
- Negotiate A Fair Severance Package For The Layoff
- Review Your Job Performance And Look For Ways To Improve
- Don’t Wait To Start Finding a Job After Being Laid Off
- Have A Plan To Explain Your Layoff
While it certainly wasn’t your choice to be laid off, what you do with it absolutely IS your choice. Focus on what you can control and you’ll find your unwanted position easier to manage.
1. Remind Yourself That Being Laid Off Is Not The End Of Your Career
In today’s job market, the stigma of being let go is much, much less significant than ever before. The continual waves of mergers, spin-offs, downsizings, expansions, and re-engineerings that have marked world industry over the past three decades mean layoffs are considered commonplace (and that’s not even considering a global pandemic).
A lot of people have been laid off at one time or another, over 1.5 million a month during 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those who haven’t been fired are well aware that they’ve escaped the ax only by good fortune. As a result, no one really looks down on people with one or two layoffs in their past.
Instead, layoffs are viewed as par for the course. Try mentioning being fired or laid off the next time you’re at lunch with half a dozen other working friends. Rather than glances of disapproval, you’re more likely to see nods of understanding and hear comments like, “I’ve been there.”
Of course, this doesn’t apply if you’ve been fired repeatedly, or for a cause like lying, stealing, or punching your boss. But most people who are one or two-time losers in the job wars have little difficulty moving on to their next opportunity if they don’t take it personally and understand it’s just business.
Once you accept the situation, you can minimize the psychological and career damage of being laid off by handling the practical part of surviving a layoff intelligently.Most people who are one or two-time losers in the job wars have little difficulty moving on to their next opportunity if they don’t take it personally and understand it’s just business. Click To Tweet
2. Negotiate A Fair Severance Package For The Layoff
Rather than simply accepting the company offer, request a couple of days to consider it. Then talk to peers and former bosses and colleagues. You may find you can get the company to increase your final pay package, extend your health and life insurance benefits, or provide you with services such as career counseling.
Do your homework first, but don’t be afraid to ask for more. The worst they can do is say no (and even then, you can still ask again!).
3. Review Your Job Performance And Look For Ways To Improve
No one is 100% perfect at any job so there is always room for growth. A layoff is a natural point in your career to figure out what you need to learn and where you might need to grow in your self-awareness.
Try to analyze objectively what you did right and wrong during your time there. Examine your history with the company. Could you have handled your job better so as to extend your tenure? Were there warning signs you ignored?
Make a list of work and people skills you intend to improve in your future jobs. Consider hiring a coach (if financially feasible) to not only help you navigate the job hunt, but develop the skills you need for the job you want.
4. Don’t Wait To Start Finding a Job After Being Laid Off
Start your next job search promptly. Don’t spend weeks binge watching NetFlix or feeling sorry for yourself. And don’t spend your savings on a vacation or some other consolation prize (even if you can afford it). You will find the loss of psychological momentum you suffer can be harmful.
The biggest hindrance to your success isn’t the layoff, but what you choose to do with it.
Practically speaking, a job search can often take longer than anticipated. The sooner you start looking for a job and networking, the sooner you will find a new job.
5. Make A Plan For Explaining Your Layoff
Don’t be embarrassed about losing your job. Develop a simple, neutral, accurate, one-sentence explanation for why you lost your job.
For example, you can say, “The company reorganized, and mine was one of several positions that were eliminated.” Using this or a similar sentence to spread the word among your friends and acquaintances will maximize your chances of hearing about a worthwhile opportunity.
It will also help you be more comfortable explaining the situation so you’re prepared to answer the “Why were you laid off?” question you’ll be asked in your job interviews. You can’t avoid questions like that, but you can prepare yourself to answer them well.Don’t waste time and energy bemoaning what you’ve lost; focus instead on the new horizons in your future. You will find them. Click To Tweet
Don’t Just Focus On Surviving A Layoff, But On What Comes Next
The great automobile entrepreneur Henry Ford (and many others over time with their own version) said, “Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.” His words apply to being laid off. Don’t waste time and energy bemoaning what you’ve lost; focus instead on the new horizons in your future. You will find them.
With time and thoughtful hard work, your layoff will be just another bend in the road of a long, successful career.