5 Ways to Deal with being Laid-off

It happens every single day of the week; it may have happened to you in your career already. Getting laid off. Today, more than ever, this is a reality in the world of work. It happens at all levels and in all sectors. This week’s podcast is from our recent Canadian Career Development Webinar with two experts on this subject.

Andrea Zanetti has spent the last number of years as a director of HR and has also been on the other side of the desk delivering the news. Eleanor Clitheroe is the former CEO of Hydro One and shares her advice on how she recovered from her lay-off.

This past week, I was speaking at a conference in Victoria on personal branding (First time I have gotten excited about dandelions in a long time, and discovered a great fish & chip shop: Red Fish Blue Fish). One of the participants discussed the looming lay-offs coming in the B.C. Government. In today’s world dealing with a lay-off is a skill-set we all need to develop. Some people can anticipate this type of event while others walk into a meeting only to discover they are no longer employed.

In today’s workplace, you can expect to have this happen at some point due to an acquisition, a change of leadership or a downturn in the sector that you are a part of. Even if you are expecting this, or if this comes out of the blue, you can never be quite prepared for this event. The emotions are parallel to the stages of dealing with any major loss. Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, the world’s foremost expert on grief, lays out the “five stages of receiving catastrophic news”:

Denial: The initial stage – “This is not real – I am having a bad dream.”

Anger: “How dare you lay me off, I have given so much!!”

Bargaining: “Is it possible to finish this major project?”

Depression: “I don’t have anything to offer” – What will be the financial implications?”

Acceptance: “That was a good experience, now I can move forward.”

Like Eleanor, you will journey through all of these emotions, sometimes experiencing these back and forth over a day.

Here are five keys to dealing with a layoff:

  1. It isn’t personal, it’s just business. At first, you will experience all kinds of emotions that won’t be dissimilar to dealing with the death of a loved one. Acknowledge these feelings, but keep your dealings with your employer on a professional level.
  2. Reach out to your friends and family. First, they are a great source of support and second, they may know of new opportunities.
  3. Seek legal counsel. Meet with a lawyer and get good advice on what is a fair settlement. You probably won’t end up in court, but this advice will help you protect your interests.
  4. Seek a career coach or outplacement firm. A majority of companies will invest in this service on your behalf as part of your settlement package.
  5. Take a vacation. It may sound unusual, but taking a break may be both good for your soul and your soles!

The key word of advice from both Eleanor and Andrea is “Be prepared. If there is a layoff coming get a plan of action in place. This gives you a sense of control over your future and you know what your immediate next steps are.” Some of the ways you can be prepared include keeping a list of all your major contacts off-site as well as any emails and employer reviews you may have. Also, it’s important to keep a backup off-site of your presentations, etc. that you may find useful in your next role. Make some calls to your network, you will be pleasantly surprised what opportunities are in the market.

The good news, Eleanor has moved forward in her career and is now an Anglican Minister dealing with a “higher power” and is President of Prison Fellowship which helps prisoners and their families deal with the impact of prison on their lives and provide practical support and healing. Eleanor’s case is much like others. You will move forward, you will find a new role and, in most cases, you will end up in a much better situation. Struggling with this issue? We provide resume services, outplacement and job support – book an initial consultation today.

Prepared, along the road with you,

Alan