Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How to Survive a Layoff (Even If You Lose Your Job)

Understand that it can happen to you.

You're not indispensable. If you don't own the company, you could be one of the ones shown the door. Plan accordingly. This means knowing what skills you have that you can apply to other jobs (or at least recognizing that you have skills that would apply to other jobs).

It also means knowing what your monthly expenses are, as well as having an emergency fund that will carry you for several months while you look. (You may not find a job in two weeks - and that's good, if it gives you time to figure out what you want to do.) Knowing what you actually spend also tells you if you can take a pay cut for a new job - and it shows you where you can cut if you need to. Cable? Not essential. Food? Essential.

If it happens to you, it's not personal.

Well, OK, maybe it is, but most likely you are a dedicated, productive employee who was in the wrong place at the right time. (And if it is personal, do you really want to work there anyway?)

If it doesn't happen to you, it's still not personal.
Keep that in mind. Wish the newly unemployed good luck, and help them if you can. Layoffs are not contagious.

If you're employed, understand that your former co-workers don't owe you anything.
Yes, they were the only one who knew how to make widgets. The company obviously decided that widgets weren't important any longer. Wish them well and let them go - their focus needs to be on what comes next.

You don't get to hold a grudge.
Grudges hurt you, not the company.

If you've been laid off, resenting the company that let you go will just hold you back. It's giving your past power over your future.

If you haven't been laid off, resenting your company for letting other people go will poison your work. It's OK to be sad. It's OK to disagree. But when it comes right down to it, it was a business decision, and the people who made it did the best they could with the information they had. There's no guarantee you would have made a better choice.

Open your eyes.
One of the fascinating things about job hunting is finding out what kinds of companies are out there. There are companies in Ottawa that make barcode readers, and interactive voice response systems, and electronic clipboards for doctors' offices, and HR software, and video production equipment. What have you missed while you were doing your job?

Connect with people.
Your neighbour, your former co-worker, a friend of a friend. Linked-In is a great resource for tracking down people you worked with years ago (as well as people you worked with days ago). Find out what they do and what the company they work for does. You're not asking for a job, you're asking for a their perspective. Maybe you'll end up employed, maybe you'll just end up knowing where you want to go.

And if you're still employed, this is one of the ways you can help people who aren't so lucky - "Sure, I know someone at company X, let me put you in touch with them".

Listen to advice (and then do what feels right to you).
Get someone you trust to look over your resume and give you feedback. Obviously, it would be good if that person were someone who has hired people before, but anyone with a good grasp of the English language can at least point out typos.

You don't have any perspective on your own resume, so consider any changes they suggest - but it's your document, so ultimately it's your decision.

Know yourself.
What will make you happy in a job? You can find a lot of information on the company's website before you even apply for the job.

All things being equal, if I have to pick between two jobs to apply to, I'll apply for the job closer to my house. I don't want to spend a couple of hours a day commuting and I would not be happy in a job that was on the other side of town.

Know yourself (part 2).
What are you good at? What have you done that was a huge success?

Now ... what skills did you use? And what jobs use those skills?

Exercise every day.
It's good for you, it helps you cope with stress, and it gives you a reason to shower and put on pants. (Sure, you should be networking and working on getting a job, but that may not be an every day thing.)

Tell people what you need (but understand if they can't provide it).
An introduction to someone who works at the widget factory? Meeting at a coffee shop instead of a restaurant? Proof-reading your resume? Most people want to be helpful, give them a chance.

Be thankful.
Sure, you don't have a job, but lots of other things are going right for you. Potable running water. Safe neighbourhoods. Lights that come on when you flick the switch. Friends. Family. Focus on what you do have instead of what you don't. No one likes to spend time with someone who's constantly telling you how hard life is.

(I'm still employed. How was your day?)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for including the last paragraph. I was wondering...