Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Guide to Layoff Survival

“How do you survive an unexpected job cut and get back on your feet to find employment?” guide to layoff survival. From the practical to the philosophical, expert tips on how to survive the fall, and get back in the game

The Axe is Falling ... Amanda did not see it coming. Her most recent performance review was strong, plus she had a great rapport with her manager, so when the year-end layoff rumors began circulating around the office, she thought she had immunity. She should have known better. She, along with the thousands who were axed, never received an invite to the Christmas party and got the worst gift of all, a severance package.

Sadly, Amanda isn't alone. In the US as of November 2007, at least 1,408,852 people have lost their jobs due to mass layoffs, a 6% increase from 2006, according to the Department of Labour’s Bureau of Labour Statistics. And that figure only reflects those who claimed unemployment insurance from employers who cut 50 or more employees at a time.

The unemployment rate went from 4.7 to 5% in the space of a month (from November to December 2007), the largest increase since April 1995.’s own employment index, which tracks online recruitment across career sites and job boards in real-time, also posted its first-ever decline in online job ads in November 2007.

While companies downsize for a plethora of business reasons -- to reduce redundancy after a merger or acquisition, to revamp corporate strategy, or to improve the bottom-line -- much of the current job shortage has direct links to the subprime mortgage collapse still reverberating across the country in 2008. Just a few days ago, Citigroup reported record losses ($9.83 billion in the fourth quarter) due to bad mortgage-related investments and loans and will reportedly be slashing 4,700 jobs. With housing prices nosediving and credit becoming ever more difficult to obtain, jobs in manufacturing and construction have been hardest hit, totaling 47% of mass layoffs last year. White-collar jobs are hardly any more secure. Companies that service the housing industry (insurance, mortgage, real estate brokers and banks) were quick to downsize; jobs from media and technology to the usually strong biotechnology/pharmaceuticals also followed suit as a reaction to weak performance in a slowing economy.

You may not be at risk of being laid off but there is definitely anxiety over job security in the workplace. If you follow the news at all, it certainly feels as if everyone and everywhere is downsizing. So how can you avoid being the sacrificial lamb for your company?

According to University of Colorado Denver management professor, Dr. Wayne F. Cascio’s research on the culture of downsizing ... there isn’t much individuals can do. Downsizing has simply become the de-facto quick fix to address business woes in the US, so being laid off is an unavoidable aspect of corporate life. "A young adult should expect to be laid off three to four times before he turns 50," he advises.

While there may be optimism in the job market, being laid off can wreak havoc on your psyche, which could play a bigger role in your ability to rebound than you think. No matter how you got the news -- you were denied access to your office via a deactivated security pass or gently let down by your manager -- you’ve lost your livelihood and in many cases, your sense of self. Like a relationship gone bad, losing your job can be incredibly painful and life-changing. But it doesn’t have be tragic.

Pulling Yourself Together

Allow yourself to mourn: When you lose your job due to layoffs, you’ll feel as if you’ve been dumped by your employer. You’ll feel betrayed, hurt, dejected and angry, which are common emotions associated with grief. "Mourn the loss of your job and get some emotional distance so you can regain the strength to find a better one"

Be resilient: "You’re bound to encounter rejection in your job search, so you need to be resilient," offers Dr. Andrew Shatté, co-author of The Resilience Factor. He believes you can train yourself to be mentally stronger by knowing your own thinking patterns and counteracting against your natural inclinations. You can uncover your innate resilience factor online (click on"How resilient are you?").

Talk it out: Women tend to refocus and start their job search faster than men, because they’re more comfortable talking about their needs and anxieties to family and friends, and doing so helps them move beyond the shock and anger to start thinking about 'What’s next?'" It’s not that men have nothing to say -- they just need to find the appropriate support group to open up to. When Test-Drive Your Dream Job author Kurth lost his dotcom job in 2001, he and a few other job seekers would meet every week to share job search experiences over coffee and bagels (a.k.a. "Unemployed Bagels"). He recalls how all the members in the group eventually managed to bounce back and find jobs they love.

Set a budget: You’ll need to put together a budget to reflect your newly unemployed status.

Getting Back in The Game

Set goals: Brainstorm on what to do next with your family and friends, get your ideas down on paper -- stay organized and focused. Make a list of all the things you loved, hated, and would like to change about your life and ex-job. From here, you can begin brainstorming about your short and long-term goals. What other careers have always intrigued you? Are you an entrepreneur at heart? Would switching fields require additional training? If so, where, and how much would it cost? Above all, share your plans, however preliminary, with your support group so your friends can keep you on your toes.

Network, network, network: Be upbeat and positive even if you're not feeling that great about yourself. Make a point of getting out of the house and interacting with people. The more people you meet, the better. Create your own network in addition to attending professional networking events. A good way to ensure you get out there and do meaningful work is to volunteer your time for a charitable cause, according to Challenger. You never know who you will meet and what connections they may bring.

Try to identify people whose work appeal to you in some way and make a point of meeting them. Offer to take them out to coffee or even lunch. You'd be surprised how helpful people can be.

And by all means, get up to speed with all the major social networking sites like LinkedIn, Plaxo, MySpace and Facebook. Get reacquainted with your acquaintances.

Through all your networking efforts, stay organized in order to make best use of your contacts.

Limit your computer use: You’re wasting your time if you devote all your time responding to online job ads. Spend your day meeting and interviewing with people, not in front of your computer.

Take breaks: Whether it's going out for dinner once a week (within your means, of course), going for a run every other day, or both, taking breaks from your job search is essential to your mind-body wellness, which will help you stay energetic and motivated.

There is no denying being downsized is difficult, and bouncing back, harder still. But it is not impossible. "[Being laid off] can be a tragedy or an opportunity," ... "Turn it into an opportunity of a lifetime. "

Source: Fast Company

1 comment:

Cory said...

Been layed off 3 times now soon to be 4. You have to accept the things you cannot change. In the past I went through a period of denial "why me" I was annoyed at my boss for keeping on less productive peers as I was being escorted out of the building with my box, but now when I look back on it all I see it as an unexpected wake up call to something better its certainly less stressful to be out of the heat than on the sidelines waiting for it to happen.