10 Things You Should Do As Soon As You Get Laid Off

In the moments after a layoff, you may feel like you’re in a haze.

Often, we ignore the warning signs that a layoff is coming, or we think, “It probably won’t happen me.”

As adults, we want to feel in control of the changes that take place in our lives. When someone else steps in and makes decisions that profoundly affect our lives, as in the case with layoffs and job eliminations, we often feel vulnerable and lose that sense of control we need.
Losing a job is an event for which most people have had little preparation. Most people have had no coaching on how to handle job elimination. When it happens, the experience is often also painful, frightening and bewildering.

If you get hit with the disappointing news, here are a few things you can do in those first few moments to help shake it off and prepare yourself to reenter the world of job hunting:

1. Take a deep breath. It’s easy to go into panic mode after news like this, but if you do, you might later regret any knee-jerk reaction. You should stay on good terms with your former co-workers and bosses, so you can later call on them for networking help or references. It’s important to keep your cool and not do or say anything regrettable in the heat of the moment.
2. Don’t sign anything right away. If HR asks you to sign a separation letter, take it home with you and read it thoroughly before you sign it. You signature could simply be an acknowledgment that you received the letter, or it could be an agreement that you won’t sue or compete with the company for a period of time.
3. Talk details with HR. Ask for detail of what the severance package contains. What is the length of severance, continuation of benefits, is there outplacement help, who to talk to about later questions.
4. Get important stuff off your computer. If you’re not already locked out of your computer when you return to your desk, take a few minutes to gather any important contact information, personal files, and performance reports and anything that could help with a job search. Better yet, don’t store that information on the company computer in the first place.
5. Ask for a recommendation. If you have good rapport with any of your remaining bosses or colleagues, you could ask to use them as references for future jobs. If you don’t already have their personal contact information, now’s the time to ask. If they are willing, ask them to write a recommendation for you LinkedIn profile this carries a lot of weight with recruiters.
6. Don’t make any drastic decisions. Don’t make any important life decisions in the heat of the moment. Don’t cancel any family trips or use social media to call out your former employer. Wait until your more emotionally stable to make these decisions.
7. Have a response ready for when you don’t want to talk about it. People may hear about your situation and call to express their support before you really know how they can help. Be prepared with a response like: “My company closed its office. I am actively looking and networking. I am not ready to talk about my search at length, but I will keep you updated. I appreciate your concern.”
8. Don’t send out that alert just yet. A sense of urgency often sets in once you’re past the shock stage. It can be tempting to go on a social media binge and reach out to virtually everyone you know to immediately find a replacement job. By doing so you won’t give yourself the time you need to think through your next move and may send mixed signals about your future plans.
9. Jot down a list of your major accomplishments. It is natural to lose confidence after being laid off, and to feel like this setback will have long-lasting repercussions. But while you were employed, you contributed a great deal. Make a list of your biggest accomplishments to remind yourself that you have a valuable skill set that makes you marketable, this will also form the basis of the results-based resume you will be creating.
10. Look at the big picture. The prospect of changing jobs is certainly daunting. But as challenging as it seems, try to look at your career as a continuum and the experience you gained at each job. Your tenure could be a stepping-stone to greater opportunity, and your layoff could be a catalyst for more closely examining your priorities, career passions, and long-term goals. Have faith that this experience will ultimately be the change that you needed to take your career to the next level. That will be the first step in making it a reality.

Travis Jones - CEO of Career Development Partners

Written By Rick Christensen

Rick has been a career consultant for over 20 years, serving a very broad-based and diverse clientele. His specialties include effective group facilitation, one-on-one coaching and consultation at all levels including senior executives.

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