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Post-Layoff Action Plan: Pick Up & Move On

Categories: Professional Development

I’ve been fielding many inquiries of late from members of the media – all related to stories they are doing about our business climate of increased job loss and a horrific economy – and how those who weren’t laid off can cope with the guilt of “survival.”

This week, a magazine asked me how I’d respond to this scenario: Someone calls. Mid-level executive. He's been laid off. What are the first three things you say?

Here’s my reply:

The number one thing I’d ask him is why would anyone hire him? In other words, what does he bring to the table?

Next, I’d find out whether he has identified his skill set, his passion, and his overall objectives for any future jobs.

Lastly, I would discuss his network – can he go back to his internal, professional and/or community network, to make contact with people in these areas and tap into his connections?

Unfortunately, too often, people wait until something happens before they realize the power of building networks.

Another question the writer posed concerned the psychological effects of being laid off in a poor economy. She wanted to know whether it makes it better or worse, psychologically, if there seems to be a sense that “everyone” is getting fired.

I believe that the old adage that misery loves company doesn’t hold water. It’s one thing when everyone else is being laid off. It’s quite another when it happens to you.

Many people take it personally and go through a period of mourning and anger. Most people are scared. Depending on their financial situation, they might go into crisis mode.

This is not a time to feel sorry for yourself, although a weekend of self-pity and reflection doesn’t hurt. Then, get moving!

It is time to assess your skill set, your network, your possibilities, and then have a focused -- yet flexible --approach to landing another position.

Being laid off can affect one’s self-esteem, family relationships, financial security, and lead to “victimitis” -- feelings of having no control.

You may need to reassess your options, possibly moving, return to school, consider new certifications, starting your own business, and looking at interim or part-time positions.

The worse thing that you can do is nothing.

You can combat a layoff’s effects by doing something – taking action.

I’m referring to attending networking events, job fairs, registering on career web sites, reading and responding to want ads, volunteering, contacting your own network, exercising, eating well, and renting some funny movies.

Sometimes, a setback is an opportunity to switch direction. Life must go on!

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