Getting laid off is hard. I would know I am in my second lay-off within 9 months. It’s something you take personally even though it had nothing to do with your performance and is completely out of your hands. As someone who has been through this twice (and at an early part of my career), I decided to write up some “tips” on how to handle this difficult and emotional time:
- Keep it together (somewhat). Now I believe that people react differently in certain situations. I have experienced two different lay off situations (a) I was asked to leave immediately, and (b) I had to work for three months knowing the end was near. They are both horrible. I suggest keeping your self together as much as you can while you are in front of peers/managers/HR and getting it alll out of your system after you have left for the day. When you are at home/in your car/at your parents/wherever, let it out. Cry, scream, stomp, this is going to make you feel better trust me. Give yourself about 2-3 days of whiny, spontaneous crying fits and then suck it up.
- Be thankful. Never burn bridges. This isn’t your managers fault so make sure to thank them for their guidance, and the opportunity to work in that particular organization. They will remember you for the fantastic employee that you are/were (this is awesome for future references).
- Start a to-do list. After the dust has settled and you got most of your emotions out there, move forward. How I like to do this is with a to-do list (I literally have them for everything). This is going to help you analyze your situation, and visually see what progress you need to make. Things I included on mine:
- Update my resume and cover letter. This can be positive; you have gained some new experiences at your recent job, so update your resume! I also updated the look and feel of mine, I wanted my resume and cover letter to not only reflect my professional history but where I wanted to take my career in my next position.
- Create a professional website/online portfolio. I used WordPress to do this because it’s free and easy. I included my resume, information about me, a photo, and my portfolio with examples of my work. I then linked this to every piece of “marketing material” about me (my email signature, LinkedIn, and included on job applications). How cool is it to say, “have you seen my website?” You can see mine here. *Maybe I will do a walk through of how I did this in the future, stay tuned!
- Created/updated my print portfolio. Now this is not easy but in my career path (marketing/communications) I felt it was necessary. I included press releases, writing samples/blog posts, graphic design samples, and anything else that would showcase my professional work. Plus, bringing a print portfolio to an interview shows an organization how serious you are about this job and your career, AKA you’re proud of your work! You can check mine out here.
- Figure out your health insurance. Some companies will offer your health insurance for an extended period of time, check with your HR department on this, or it should be detailed in your severance agreement and/or lay off notice. Take note of the final days so you can get all your checkups, prescriptions, contacts, teeth cleanings out of the way.
- Update your social media status. This is a great way of letting people know you are on the market. Networking people!
- Have a daily routine. Getting back on a daily routine is important for maintaining some sort of sanity. Depending on your location, level of experience, and many other factors, there is no saying how long you could be without a job. Dedicate time everyday to networking, applying for jobs, and doing something to make you happy (DIY projects you have been meaning to do, having lunch with friends, spending some time outdoors).
You need to understand that this happens more than one would think. We live in an ever changing world that seems to slow down and speed up sporadically. Always stay positive, and know what your worth. Never take a lay off or being fired as a time to become desperate. I have had several potential employers tell me that they admired my optimism and ability to look forward. Take this as a chance to move up in your career and pursue new interests or follow a dream you have always had, like working in a non-profit.
Breathe, make a strong drink (if that’s your thing), and good luck!