10 Feb When the Worst Happens: Things to Do When You Are Laid Off
It’s the conversation that everyone dreads. You’ve been called into your boss’ office, or human resources. Your position is being eliminated. There is restructuring going on and the department is being merged. The company is being sold. Whatever the circumstances, you’re being laid off. There’s always a rush of emotions, from anger to panic to sadness, but it’s important not to react in the moment.
Things to do when you are laid off:
Don’t panic. The natural thing is to do something extreme, whether it’s immediately starting reaching out to contacts for job opportunities, or book a big vacation to get away from it all. But you shouldn’t do either. On the one hand, you’re emotionally not in a position to put your best foot forward for a new role. On the other hand, you need to understand your economic situation before laying out for big expenses.
Confide in someone you trust. You need the emotional support and objective brain of someone who can help you talk through your options. You will need to think about how you want to communicate your departure. And you’ll just need a cooler head to remind you that, as devastating as it is, getting laid off is one of the more common experiences of being in the workforce.
Don’t burn bridges. Whether your company handled the situation aplomb or bungled the communication, don’t react in anger. It’s the unfortunate reality that circles run smaller than you think. Blasting someone today could hurt you later. And definitely stay off of social media for the first few days.
Get help. Be sure to get the help you need professionally. You might need a lawyer to review any severance agreement (some companies will provide someone to represent your interests). Consider discussing with an accountant any financial changes you need to make, even if just for the short term. And, if your company offers you outplacement services – take it.
Take stock of your situation. One of the things to do when you are laid off is to try to assess your professional network, your experience, and whether or not you have enjoyed this job.
[bctt tweet=”If you’ve been laid off, think about other next steps. Is this the opportunity to go in a completely different direction?”]
Sometimes people discover that the unexpected disconnect from a job is what they need to have time and space to consider other options. For others, it’s a good time to see on paper the experience they have gained and update their resume. But in either event, look for the positive aspect of being able to pull back and see your own big picture.
One of the most important things to do when you are laid off is keep perspective.
It will feel like the end of the world. It may feel personal, intentional, or like a betrayal. But often it really is just business. Organizations change, circumstances evolve, business needs move in new directions.
Although it sounds like obvious advice, there really is something to be said for stopping and being grateful for your health, loved ones, friends, and all the other things that are harder to replace than a job. There was life before this one, and there will be life after it.