Turn a Lay-Off into an Opportunity
With a flurry of companies laying off significant portions of their workforce as we finish out the calendar year, the holiday season may be career stressful for many. Whether you are part of the highly publicized Amazon, Twitter, or Meta lay-offs, or you are from a smaller company trying to make financial ends meet – the news of a lay-off feels debilitating. But it need not prevent you from a bright career future.
The volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) global marketplace could bring more layoffs in the new year. You have the power to refocus your mindset and consider what’s next with a clean slate that could lead to a better opportunity than where you came from.
Grieve the Loss
Honor the emotions and grieve the loss. A layoff sucks and can make you feel less than, which is a normal reaction. In most cases, the layoff is purely a business decision and has nothing to do with your performance. The reduction in force is a survival strategy deployed to keep the company financially solvent. Decisions about who is let go are not always fair and those with the least tenure are often the most vulnerable, as well as those at the top with the highest salaries.
Take the time to process your emotions. Rant and rave in the privacy of your home. Like any other loss, be aware of your grief triggers and manage your emotions, especially in front of colleagues in the organization from which you are departing.
Never burn a bridge! I have seen people rehired from the same organization that let them go within 6 months when it was financially feasible to bring valued employees back.
Ask for Outplacement Resources
Some organizations have outplacement resources to help you with a new job search. It’s smart to ask, even if this is a new concept to the organization. Ask for funds to support a career coach to help you freshen your resume and LinkedIn profile and get you interview ready for what’s next. Some companies have connections with recruiters that can help you target opportunities within your industry. Ask about what is available to you.
Inquire about other benefits like healthcare (COBRA) and a salary severance to get you through the transition until you are employed again.
Capitalize on the positive relationships you made at the company and ask for recommendations via LinkedIn, or job references that will speak highly of your work. Nurturing these relationships is essential, even after you leave the organization. Pay-it-forward to support others in transition and serve as a reference when you can endorse them authentically for great work.
A Lay-Off Doesn’t Define You
Layoffs have become ubiquitous in this career landscape. It’s not a red flag or a concern for future employers when you showcase your resilience and recovery skills. Employees looking to hire you want to hear how you recovered from the set back because it shows them how you deal with adversity. Stay positive and never diss your former employer. The career world is small, and you must remain professional. Your reputation is at stake and difficult to regain once it’s lost. Take the high road.
Don’t hide the layoff on your resume, or in your next interview. Address it head on to prevent others from speculating about why you were let go. Focus on what you do well, how you are proactive, and why you are a value-add for the new opportunity. Showcasing resiliency is essential and a highly sought-after competency.
According to the Talogy – Building Resilient Organizations for the Future of Work white paper,
“Resilience is your capacity to adapt positively to pressure, setbacks, challenge and change in order to optimize performance and maintain wellbeing.”
Showcasing this highly desired skillset with how you handled the layoff is an ideal opportunity to illustrate to an employer that you are resilient and can bounce back.
Consider Something Different
Give yourself time to process and consider what you really want to do next. Working with a career coach can help you map out the possibilities and clarify what strengths energize you. Maybe you have been dreaming about a career move or an entrepreneurial venture, and the layoff provided you with the space to consider a new path.
Be open to short-term and contract work until you land the next role that honors what you really want. Rally your network and help them understand what you do well and what interests you most. Personal introductions will help with roles where hundreds of applicants are trying to impress with an online resume. Gain clarity about what makes you stand out and empower your network to be ambassadors and allies for you.
Be a good egg and offer to help others – even while you are searching for your next role.
Get Back on the Horse
Honor your mental health and wellbeing – stress is debilitating. Looking for a new career opportunity is a full-time job. Prioritize quiet time to focus on what you really want. The layoff may have been a gift in disguise to give you the push to consider what’s next with a fresh perspective.