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Jobs that once seemed to have long-term security can fall away. People who never expected to suddenly be unemployed, can be suddenly hit with the reality that they have to survive a layoff or furlough.
Job search is difficult enough at any time. But to have your livelihood pulled out from underneath you with perhaps little to no warning can be downright frightening.
What To Do If You Suspect a Layoff is Coming
If you still have your job but others around you at work are getting laid off, you’re probably concerned that you could be next.
Business Insider has tips if you’re worried about your future after a round of layoffs:
- Always keep your resume and LinkedIn profile updated and watch the job market.
- Find out whether your boss has a plan for how the company will bounce back after layoffs.
- Keep an eye out for how the company culture changes following layoffs.
- Be wary if you see your boss having more closed-door meetings or calls than usual.
- Have an honest conversation with your manager about whether more layoffs are on the horizon.
- Write down your observations and get some outside advice.
- Find out if you can take over new responsibilities from departed employees.
- If layoffs happened but the most talented, accomplished people survived, your company might bounce back.
- Know how to recognize whether it’s just your company that’s in hot water, or if your entire industry might be on the decline.
- If you want to leave a company after layoffs, but don’t know whether to stick around until you land a dream job, give it four to six months.
- Make sure you have contact information for your HR representative as well as your company’s retirement savings coordinator.
Things To Work on After a Layoff
If you’ve actually been laid off, you’ll find plenty of good advice below from various experts to re-jig your job search (if you were already job-hunting) or dive into a new search.
Take care of financial matters
Naturally, if you’re suddenly not receiving a paycheck, money will be forefront in your concerns. You’ll want to take care of these matters sooner than later.
On Bankrate.com, Sarah Foster offers 13 steps to take if you’ve lost your job, including these financial steps:
- Apply for unemployment benefits.
- If you have emergency savings, now’s the time to tap into it.
- Look over your monthly expenses and find ways to cut back.
- If you have a mortgage, inform your lender and servicer.
- If you have student loans, suspend your payments.
- Get in touch with your bank.
- Stay away from payday loans.
- Communicate with your utility and service providers.
- You can use your retirement accounts — but avoid it if possible.
- Be flexible about new opportunities.
Get good at working remotely
Multimedia journalist and editor Molly McCluskey advised in a US News article:
“If you haven’t already, get familiar with new remote tools like Slack and Zoom and learn how to put your best foot forward. Being ready for everything from a video interview to working with or even managing a remote team will be critical.”
Get busy with personal branding and LinkedIn
Career coach Ariella Coombs advises getting really good at virtual interviewing in an article on WorkItDaily.com, along with these 2 other smart tips:
Focus on your personal brand
“Take this time to revamp your LinkedIn profile, resume, and cover letter strategy so it’s easy for an employer to see your value quickly. Also, get SUPER clear on your professional specialty (or the “service” you provide as an employee).”
Start ACTUALLY Using LinkedIn
“So many people are told they need to have a LinkedIn profile, but they don’t actually use it once they sign up. LinkedIn is a great place to brand yourself for strategic opportunities. It can also act as a virtual Rolodex.
Reconnect with people who are already in your network, share content in your LinkedIn feed that support your professional specialty (this will help people remember what you do), and invite people who work at your target companies to connect.”
For more LinkedIn advice, see my Essential LinkedIn Guide.
Learn to network better
Job search coach Adrienne Tom offers this advice in her job search action plan after a layoff:
“Ask quality questions: Instead of simply asking people to help you find a job, spend efforts inquiring about opportunities, leads, or information that will support your job plan. For example, if there is a company that interests you, try to connect with people who work there to learn about the company culture. Or, seek an introduction to a person working in a field or role of interest and ask them how they got their placement. The more information you are armed with, the better career decisions you can make.”
Do volunteer work to avoid potential resume employment gaps
Think about regularly volunteering the fill those potential gaps. Don’t be worried that this kind of work won’t be considered in the same way as paid work. Work is work, whether or not you’re paid.
Ideally, find an organization where you can offer the kind of work you got paid to do, so potential employers will see the way your expertise impacts that organization. But any kind of volunteer work will be viewed as an asset.
Along with filling a gap in your employment history, there are many things you may gain from volunteering:
- Satisfaction of doing something to help others
- Broaden your networks
- Take advantage of one of the most powerful principles of networking – “give to get”
- Build credibility and reinforce your subject matter expertise
- Learn new skill sets
- Employers will be impressed by your dedication to helping others
- Test out a new kind of career
- Land a paid job through your volunteer work
Boost your resilience
Chief Talent Scientist at Manpowergroup, Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, noted in a FastCompany article:
“As countless studies show, resilience is a critical skill for reducing and managing stress and responding to emotional challenges, including traumatic life events. It’s what allows us to recover from difficulties and setbacks. If, as Nietzsche famously noted, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, then you can thank resilience.”
He outlined 9 science-backed ways to boost resilience during the pandemic:
- Find meaning
- Get a coach, and if you can’t, get a mentor
- Practice mindfulness
- Get more sleep
- Stay physically active
- Embrace optimism
- Nurture rewarding relationships
- Remember the power of humor
- Even if you are feeling weak, make an effort to project strength
Accept the Emotional Turmoil You’re Thrown Into To Survive a Layoff
The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development offers a lot of good advice in their layoff survival guide, including this first step:
“Don’t blame yourself Some people believe that somehow it’s their fault when they get laid off. Often the decision to down size or close a workplace has nothing to do with the performance of workers or whether it is making money. These decisions are often the result of mergers and a desire to get the highest profits possible. These are things that workers have no control over. Through no fault of their own, the rules of the game have changed, and you aren’t to blame for what is happening.”
Losses extend beyond the loss of your job
Along with losing your paycheck and perhaps the other compensation benefits you had, you may experience these losses:
- Role as worker and provider
- Dignity and self esteem
- The “American Dream”
- Control over your life
- Pattern of daily life
- Your work family
- Collective strength
They describe the 6 stages of the layoff cycle:
Before the layoff
Before the layoff there may be rumors about when, and if, the layoff will hit. It is a very stressful time. There may be a sharp increase in sickness and accidents both on and off the job. You can take steps now to protect yourself.
When the layoff happens there is a period of relief, because you are no longer “waiting for the axe to fall”. After a while, the reality of what has happened begins to sink in.
Intensive job search
When the jobs are scarce and there are lots of people competing for every job, it puts people looking for work in a frustrating and difficult situation. In this stage, some people withdraw and use more drugs and alcohol.
If retraining is needed to get a new job or to find work in a new field, it can be a difficult time. This may also be a time of less income and can be stressful for the whole family.
Running out of benefits
People having troubles finding work may run out of unemployment insurance benefits. When this happens they may become discouraged and stop looking for a job.
Adjusting to a new job
When you find a job, the worst part is over, but there may still be some problems. You now need to get used to the new job, new coworkers, and new rules.
Things You Don’t Want People To Say To You
It’s hard enough dealing with your layoff without people saying insensitive things that sting, despite their good intentions.
Here are some things crisis communications expert Meredith Parfet knows you don’t want to hear:
- You’ll land on your feet.
- Everything happens for a reason.
- What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
- Let me know how I can help.
- Statements that begin with with “at least,” “luckily,” or “it could have been worse.”
Wouldn’t you rather they said things like this instead?
- Hey, I saw your post about getting laid off and just wanted to see how you are holding up?
- I’m here to listen.
- I imagine this is really hard.
- That sucks and I care about you.
- I’m sorry for what you are experiencing. Your post was meaningful to me and I’m grateful that you shared it.
- I’m not sure where you are in your process, but when you’re ready I have some ideas that might be useful.
- I’d be happy to make some introductions for you.
- I’d love to brainstorm with you if you need a sounding board.”
More Help To Survive a Layoff or Furlough
See my roundup of articles and resources to help you manage your job search in these uncertain times:
- Think of your job search like it’s a small business.
- Take the time to define your authentic personal brand and unique value.
- Don’t spend too much time on the job boards.
- Network your way into the jobs that are never advertised.
- Get ready to ace your job interviews.
- Find and network with the right executive recruiters.
- Write an executive resume that gets you more interviews.
- Why you need a biography, along with your resume.
- Get busy with LinkedIn.
- Video is especially important in uncertain times for job search.
- Be mindful of your online reputation.
- Ways you can deal with and overcome age discrimination.
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