You go into work one morning and it happens.
You get called into your boss’ office and you’re told that your relationship with the company has ended.
In other words, you’ve just been laid off.
A whirlwind of emotions run through you: anger, shame, regret, despair.
When I was first laid off last year, I was shocked to say the least. Until that point, I had never suffered a major professional failure.
When I was laid off again later that same year, I was beside myself. Not only was my self-confidence destroyed, but I also believed that my future career prospects were shot as well. After all, who would hire someone who had been laid off not once, but TWICE—especially in today’s ultra competitive job market?
Well, after I stopped whining like a petulant child, I realized that there were plenty of opportunities still available to me, including some that I hadn’t seriously considered before.
Before I could come to that realization, however, I had to get through the initial post-layoff blues.
If you’ve recently lost your job and you’re feeling as lost and confused as I once was, here is some advice to help you get past these difficult times:
Don’t immediately jump back into your job search
After you’ve been laid off, your first instinct might be to go home and immediately start looking for your next job. This is usually not the best thing to do. Your emotions will still be running high and you’re not likely to get very far in your job search if you can’t speak objectively about your previous employer.
Take a day or two to relax and cool your head.
You’ll undoubtedly have very strong feelings regarding your former employer, and the best thing to do is to get these emotions off your chest.
Whether it’s ranting to friends and family or writing a strongly-worded review on RateMyEmployer.ca, venting your frustrations will help you clear your head and get you ready to get back to work.
Just be careful not to blast your former employer, boss or co-workers in a public sphere like social media.
Figure out your next step
Now that you’re all mellowed out, take some time to seriously consider the circumstances that led to your loss of employment.
While some layoffs—like those due to entire companies shutting down—are unexpected and unavoidable, many layoffs are also partly the result of individual job performance.
Thinking critically about your past job performance can help you pinpoint gaps in your skills or experience that may have led you to perform less well than some of your peers. If you can identify these deficiencies, then you can figure out how to overcome them and hopefully avoid being laid off again.
How you choose to overcome your professional weaknesses depends on your personal situation; the solution can be as extreme as going back to school for additional training, or as simple as making a personal commitment to not repeat the same mistakes twice.
Don’t be afraid to tell employers that you were laid off
If and when you apply for your next job, you’ll probably be asked why you left your previous job. Be honest and don’t make a big deal out of the fact that you were laid off. Emphasize what you’ve learned from your experience and how you intend to apply this knowledge in the future.
Most employers understand that we are living in difficult economic times and that layoffs are sometimes inescapable.
It’s not the end of the world
Remember when I said that losing my job made me realize how many new opportunities I really had in front of me?
Before I was laid off, I had never seriously considered a career in writing. I’d thought about it in passing, but I’d always told myself that it was a very difficult field in which to be successful and that I just didn’t have enough experience to compete. Instead, I’d looked towards “safer” jobs that offered me more money and more stability—or so I thought. Being laid off twice made me realize that there is no such thing as real job security in this day and age, and that you’re much better off doing something you enjoy.
And so I decided to get started by applying to write for TalentEgg.
While I’m not making as much money now as I was before, I thoroughly enjoy my work and I’m confident that it will lead to more opportunities in the future.
It’s something of an obligation to end these kinds of articles with an inspirational quote about overcoming failure and adversity, and I have no intention of breaking from the trend.
I think Theodore Roosevelt said it best:
“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena… who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deeds…who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
Have you ever been laid off? How did you deal with it? Share your experience in the comments section below!
Photo credit: Tim Samoff