So, you got laid off huh? Maybe you loved your job and are now gripped with the fear that you’ll never be able to find something you love as much ever again. Maybe you were miserable at your job but “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” Maybe you saw it coming and felt like you’d hang in there for as long as possible because a) you care about your job, b) you care about your team, c) you simply weren’t ready to make a break for it or d) all of the above. One thing is certain though – the cruel, ugly faces of the double-headed monster known as Loss and Rejection are staring directly at you. But before you trudge up to your bedroom and resign yourself to months in sweatpants, let me offer a different perspective.
I have experienced a layoff twice within the last five years. You’re probably thinking that I must be an incompetent person, or at the very least, a very unlucky person. But neither is the case. I am good at what I do. And I have also felt very lucky to go through the process of disassembling and building back up. Both times. So, how was I able to not only survive a layoff (not one, but two), but actually enjoy them? Here are my four candid tips.
#1 – Take It Easy
The single most important thing that I recommend to people experiencing a layoff is to just stop for a moment. I think many people immediately spring into action and that’s totally admirable, however I’m not sure how well it serves them. I say do something revolutionary and take it easy on yourself. If you’re going to come out of this thing better off, it is going to take some thought, some quiet time, some soul-searching and, most importantly, some contentment. After all, it’s a lot harder to make good decisions about your future when you’re unhappy. Make a bucket list. What are some things you want to accomplish for yourself while you’re unemployed? Things like committing to a fitness routine, completing a home improvement project, and exploring a new town were on my bucket list. Make sure to focus on activities that will challenge you and give you a great sense of accomplishment when they’re completed. You can build these activities around your prospecting and job searching. The goal is to slay that two-headed monster!
#2 – Know What You Want
Whether you realize it yet or not: you’ve just been handed an opportunity. It’s time to do some serious professional exploration. What wasn’t working in your previous job? How can you structure your search to eliminate those elements from your next position? And even more important than what you don’t want is what you do want. So, what do you want? What motivates you? Is it a specific type of manager? Great! Put some questions down on paper about management style to ask a hiring manager during interviews. Is it to have additional training and learning resources? Start researching companies that regularly offer these kinds of perks to their employees. (And then “follow” them on Facebook and LinkedIn to get their hiring updates). After feeling so out of control, isn’t it wonderful to take the control back?
#3 – Use Your Network
Many people will want to keep a layoff a secret or feel that they can’t reach out to people because of the emotions that they’re struggling with. This is a mistake. Your network is more than likely going to be the ticket to your next job. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of all jobs are found through networking. LinkedIn is an excellent resource, so as a first step, I always suggest taking some time to focus on getting your LinkedIn profile updated and looking really good. If you need some tips on where to begin, check out my colleague, Lindsey Stemann’s blog post – 10 Tips to Personalize Your LinkedIn Profile. And then of course, start networking! Who have you worked with that you need to connect with? Reach out to them and let them know you’re looking. Some of the most successful people I know make networking a daily practice. Nothing but good can come of it.
#4 – Connect With a Recruiter (or two)
Searching for a job can be very confusing and frustrating. It helps to have an advocate. Or two. So, now that your LinkedIn profile is up to snuff and you’re making those important networking moves anyway, take some time to connect with a few recruiters in your industry or geographic location. As a recruiter, I will let you in on a major secret – recruiters LOVE meeting competent and talented people. As I type these words, I am recalling a long list of amazing people that I’ve connected with over the years who promptly went in to my pipeline for future positions. I’ve helped a lot of people find jobs. And I’ve made some really excellent friends along the way.
And I guess that brings us to my final thought. A job search is always a journey. You will meet new and interesting people, you will learn things about yourself, you will experience great frustration, but at the end, you will hopefully experience great joy. Being laid off is no different. Remember to take it easy on yourself, figure out what you want, use your network and make friends with a recruiter and I can (almost) promise you, you’ll be just fine. You might even have some fun along the way.