A layoff can be a shock. It’s normal to have a range of emotions, including anger, sadness and even relief — both directed at your employer and former colleagues.
An abrupt change like this might make you wonder how to proceed and remain productive without the routine of work, especially if you aren’t receiving unemployment benefits like severance. But as a career coach, I've identified a few helpful and protective measures over the years that help people bounce back from unexpected losses of employment — and they're all things you can try sooner versus later. Here are four things you can do right away to assess your situation and determine your next steps.
You’re between jobs, and it may be an urgent priority that you hold, for financial reasons or others, to find something new now. But, depending on your specific situation, this might also be the perfect moment to devote time to an area you've been too busy to prioritize. Maybe that's spending a little extra time with your children, becoming proficient in a new skill or funneling more resources into your side hustle. The silver lining of unemployment is that it can be a great excuse to stretch your legs a little. Pause for a moment to evaluate what this time off could mean and identify your top priorities. You have the power to decide your next move. If you rush to land anything to avoid being without a job for too long, you may end up looking for your next move again sooner rather than later, or you may regret focusing solely on your search instead of enjoying the down time.
What problem do you solve? When talking about your next move, it can feel more comfortable and is often easier for people to understand what you do when you talk in terms of the problem you solve or solutions you offer. For example: "I work with small businesses to streamline processes and introduce procedures where there were none before." This approach allows you to offer a solution, rather than just asking for a job. It’s also important to note that you will be competing with a pool of equally qualified candidates, all of whom want to join the company you're interviewing with, too. Make sure you stand out from other potential workers.
Also, consider how you’ll talk about your layoff while keeping the tone positive. You’ll want to start on a positive note by sharing what you did well or enjoyed at the company, then mention the position elimination. Promptly follow up with what you’re looking for in your next role so the conversation continues effortlessly with a focus on next moves rather than the layoff.
Whether you’ve let your relationships and networking efforts lapse or kept them up to date, it’s time to make sure you’re on people’s minds and that they can keep an eye out for opportunities for you. Ensure that friends, family members and contacts know that you’re on the market and how you provide value to companies. Oftentimes layoffs come in waves. Look at the people who were in any previous waves and where they are now working. Those contacts might have openings on their teams. It’s also a good practice to partner with former colleagues who are looking for complementary, not competitive, roles. You might come across opportunities for which they are qualified and vice versa.
A good place to start is on LinkedIn. Hopefully, you’ve been keeping up with professional contacts via this social media platform. From here, you can easily interact with people you’ve crossed path with over the course of your professional career. This is a great place to start activating your network.
I tend to think about networks in three major camps — and it's important to understand the unique benefits behind each one. Read more on that below.
Once you start your job search and activate your job seeker network, it’s very likely that employers will start to ask for your resume pretty quickly. Ensure that you have something ready to share. Make sure your most recent employment experience is included and update any industry jargon that may have changed since you last refreshed this document (because for many, it could be years.) As a job seeker, you have to constantly stay up to date on the latest industry trends, and your resume is the first place you can reflect that knowledge and experience.
Layoffs are more common than most of us realize and oftentimes propel people into better and more exciting roles. Try your best to focus on what’s next and stay positive. These four steps will set you up for success right away.
Alyson Garrido is passionate about helping people advance their careers and find jobs they will enjoy. As a career coach, she partners with her clients to identify their strengths and create a path toward a more fulfilling career. Alyson also provides support for interview preparation, salary negotiations and performance reviews, ensuring that her clients present themselves and their goals in the best possible light. Learn more at www.alysongarrido.com.
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