What to Do if You are Laid Off….7 Tips to Help You Cope
Tuesday, March 15, 2011 • 8:34pm
Your boss calls you into his office and he says, “I'm sorry the company has decided to reorganize. As a result we have done away with your position.” Does that sound familiar? Whether the boss said layoff, re-engineered, right sized, let go or just plain fired, there are several things you should do:
- Don’t say anything in the heat of the moment that you will regret. Remember, the person letting you go may be the one providing a reference for a potential new job. As much as you want to argue or explain, be quiet and listen. Get as much information from them as possible and find out if there is a timeframe and severance package as part of the downsizing. If you are reading this after receiving your notice and you reacted strongly, go back and apologize. Most people empathize and understand that you were scared and upset.
- Acknowledge your feelings, especially if you were at the company a long time. There is a grieving process and if you bury those feelings, it might keep you stuck in one emotion. I see this all the time in my consulting business; people don’t get help and they are locked into anger or denial and they become depressed. As a result, they are not able to move forward with their life. Get help if you need it, whether it’s joining a support group, your church or seeing a counselor. Losing a job can be one of the most devastating experiences in your life and you should not minimize the toll it can take. After I lost my job on 9/11, I was numb and in shock. I joined my local church group and it really helped the healing process.
- See an employment attorney if you are asked to sign an agreement as part of your severance package. I know most people just sign the paperwork, but you really should have it reviewed. You may be signing away your rights without realizing it. Those packages are rigorously reviewed by your former company’s counsel and you should understand the legal implications of it. If you are in a protected category (Age - 40 and over, Race, Religion, Gender etc.), most attorneys will review the demographics of the individuals included in the downsizing to insure that the company’s practices were compliant.
- Get moving. I see this all the time, people who have 60 or more days before they are leaving the company may go into denial mode (see tip #2) and work as if nothing has happened. They focus on their work tasks and ignore the opportunity. Instead of using the time to update their resume, join networking groups, assess external and internal positions, they continue to deny that their role is coming to an end. Everyone should complete the work tasks that are expected of them so they can get a good reference but you should not waste this precious time. Now is the time to begin your search while you are still employed. Unfortunately, it is often easier to get a job when you have a job.
- Don’t be embarrassed about the situation. Yes, it can be very upsetting but if you don’t tell people, they won’t know and can’t help. It is very important that you let your friends, family and colleagues know, so they can help you with your search. And in today’s economy, you will find that many people were faced with a similar plight in their career. Getting the word out is a key strategy for your job hunt.
- Don’t spend all your time looking for jobs on your computer. The internet is only one tool in your job search arsenal. How many people tell you that they are on their computer all day applying for jobs? This is a mistake. Everyone should use the internet as a way to find out which companies are hiring, but you need to do other things to move your resume to the top of the pile. Most times you need to get noticed by someone inside the hiring company to call attention to your resume. That is why networking and building relationships is so important. Use the internet, LinkedIn and other social media to connect, but do not rely on it exclusively. Make sure you are out there meeting people. Join a few groups if you are nervous about calling people one on one. This will help you get started and ease the pressure.
- Assess your finances.Understand what you can do to cut expenses so that you can stay afloat during this time. You should know how long you can go before you might have to take a different type of position just to earn some money. Information and knowledge are key so that you don’t get blindsided if the search takes longer than you thought.
Remember you are not alone, and there are a lot of resources aimed at helping you. Keep moving and meeting people, this will help you with your search. Don’t forget, you can email me at Peggy@Consultants2Go.com with any questions you might have and I’ll be glad to answer them. You can also follow me and my business on Twitter @peggymchale and @consultants2go.
About Peggy McHale
Peggy is the co-founder of Consultants 2 Go®(C2G), a consulting firm that provides marketing solutions to Fortune 500 companies in the Financial Services, Telecom and other industries. In 2006, Consultants 2 Go, was one of twenty winners of the 2006 Make Mine a $Million Business program and was one of seven to be named to the Million Dollar Club. Prior to starting C2G, Peggy was a Vice President at American Express. She holds an MBA from St. John’s University and a BA from the College of Mount Saint Vincent. She was a member of the Advisory Board for The Academy of Our Lady of Peace, New Providence, NJ.
Peggy is the co-founder of Consultants 2 Go® (C2G), a consulting firm that provides marketing solutions to Fortune 500 companies in the Financial Services, Telecom, Life Sciences and other industries. Consultants 2 Go was just named to the Inc. 500/5000 List as one of the fastest growing companies in the United States. Prior to starting C2G, Peggy was a Vice President at American Express. She holds an MBA from St. John’s University and a BA from the College of Mount Saint Vincent. She recently served as a member of the Advisory Board for The Academy of Our Lady of Peace, New Providence, NJ.
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