[04.05.09]
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10 Ways To Re-Build After Being Laid Off

I’m lucky in a number of ways.

One way is that I get to meet a lot of smart people through authoring this blog. Many meetings are by phone. Not ideal in many cases but the emotions come across regardless. And, because we are new in our relationship, people are more open in sharing the details of their situation.
The most compelling discussions are with people who need help after a layoff – especially if you have the opportunity to speak with them within days or weeks of the lay off.
So I was thinking today that the experience of being laid off is like experiencing a tornado.
Not one that leaves physical destruction of course, but there are many similarities both in terms of the immediate impact and the clean up and re-building that begins once the dust settles.
1. With most lay-offs you get very little notice. The sudden, unanticipated news can shake you. There is frustration due to the often random nature of the decision. Why me? Why now? What will I do?
2. Like tornados, job layoffs tend to come as local events. Hitting a community or a small division of a big company. A plant shutdown is a good example. So you know a lot of other people affected by the event and have a group of folks now in a need to re-group.
3. As the winds die down, the community comes out to see what happened. Is everyone OK? In the case of layoffs, however, the true nature of most company relationships are laid bare. Those affected are often left to fend for themselves with little help from fellow employees and a package of benefits from the company that never feels quite enough.
4. Then comes the sorting through process. Trying to figure out what you lost and what can be salvaged. A feeling of loss. After a layoff, there are many questions regarding your benefits, how long they last and what needs to be done to get them activated. Many good companies provide help with activation of these benefits and even provide some ongoing support. Either directly or through out placement. Unlike the Red Cross, there are some out placement firms out there offering only surface value.
5. The important re-building process then begins. Mentally and physically you need to prepare for your next role in the work world. Depending on your lay-off situation, it can either be psychologically damaging or a welcome relief (the latter tends to be something that is only realized months later). For the former, there is real healing that needs to happen. One needs to shift from focusing on the old job to planning for the new one.
So how do you re-build after a lay-off?
1. KNOW YOUR BENEFITS
Sit with your spouse ASAP and make sure you are both clear on what benefits you have and don’t have along with roughing out an early budget. Do not assume (especially if the lost income was the only one in the family) that a new job will be found quickly. Optimism is great in job search as it is important to believe in yourself. That the next job is just around the corner. But please don’t build a financial plan that assumes a quick end to the job search.
2. BUILD YOUR STRATEGY
Start with your job objectives. What are you looking for in your next job? Set your targets: title, industry, companies, function, geography, benefits. Who will you tap to communicate these objectives? What role will recruiters play? How will you use the job search sites? Where will you pay for services (paid search, career coach, etc) vs. going it alone? What guiding principles will steer your time and energy each day?
3. PREPARE YOUR PERSONAL MARKETING MATERIALS
Your personal marketing materials speak for you in your absence. They must be well written and precise. They must tell your story in a meaningful way. In addition to your resume (max 2 pages), you need a way to introduce yourself. Sometimes that is a cover letter. At networking events that can be a one-sheet like the SoloSheet I introduced last week. You also need ways to leave people with a professional impression. Do you have a business card that reminds people of your job objectives and positions you well for that ideal job? Are your references in order? Are they ready and willing to share meaningful accomplishments that will be relevant to the hiring company?
4. TELL THE WORLD
Do not be shy with this one. Done correctly, sharing your job search objectives with friends, family, former co-workers, the check-out lady at the grocery store, etc is vital. I say correctly because there are good and bad ways to spread the word. Make sure your job objectives are clear and memorable. People can only help you if you leave them with a tangible memory. If not, you’ll get back very little.
5. NETWORK LIKE CRAZY
Effective job search includes not only communicating with your current circle, but, more important is to reach out to a larger crowd. Preferably made up of people in your industry. Join an industry association. Go to seminars or events where people who hire will attend.
6. TAKE TIME FOR YOU
Lay-offs can be painful. You can feel wronged or cheated. Angry. Those are common emotions. Taking time for you is therapeutic to help heal those feelings and, more important, can get you back in the right frame of mind to interview. Once you begin interviewing, no one wants to hear your frustrations. They want to hear about your ability to have a positive impact on their company. And you can’t communicate that with a chip on your shoulder.
7. GET IN SHAPE AND EAT RIGHT
What to do with your extra time? Get fit. You’ll feel better, look better and, as an extra benefit, your interview suit won’t be quite as snug!
8. SHOW PATIENCE
The job search process takes time. Impatience doesn’t make it go any faster. Build your strategy and give it time to play out. Patience comes across as cool and confident – especially across a desk during an interview. It also prevents any nagging of recruiters or hiring managers during the process. If you act like you have a lot going on, you are more interesting than someone who clearly only has eyes for one opportunity. Don’t seem desperate – even if you feel that way some days.
9. INTERVIEW AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
Interviewing is good for you. Practice interviewing is great preparation for the important ones down the road. The more you put yourself into a face-to-face discussion, the more comfortable and polished you will be when it counts. So, find jobs to interview for even if they are not ideal. Give it your best. Get an offer and you can take that confidence with you.
10. A TEACHABLE MOMENT
If this was your first lay-off or your first time out of work in your career, go look yourself in the mirror and say this: “Never again”. Never again will I avoid networking because I didn’t NEED to at the time. It is so easy to network while working. It takes time and focus, yes. But, boy does it pay off when you really need it. Instead of starting from scratch, you have a whole crew of people ready to help you clean up and re-build. Many of whom you helped find a job over the past few years.
So, tell me.
What was your lay-off experience like?
Is this a reasonable analogy? If not, what did it feel like to you?
Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your story.
And, as always, if you liked this post…
Share it with a friend.


Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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Categories: Positive Attitude

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