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You’ve Been Laid Off. Congratulations!

Often in my career, I have had clients come to me stating that they had just been laid off. Whenever this happens, my automatic response is “Congratulations!”  While this might seem strange to many of you, I would say that about 90% of the clients that I have said that to gently nod in the affirmative and say something to the effect of “Yes, I think it’s overall a good thing.”

Whenever there are layoffs, there are three attributes to it that make it more of a blessing to be out of that situation:

  1. If the organization needs to do layoffs, there is a business problem: No organization wants to layoff people. It costs a good amount of money to hire someone, and laying off means that not only is that money down the drain, but there are layoff packages, legal issues, and many other things that companies would rather do without.  While often layoffs are a way of getting rid of some dead weight, often good contributors are also caught in the mix (I’ve been laid off six times in my career, so I know that’s the case!)  Whatever the case is, layoffs are usually the last resort of an organization to cut costs.  If this is the case there are other problems.
  2. It probably hasn’t been comfortable up until this point: If there’s a business problem, employees have usually been working hard and making a lot of efforts to try to fix the problem up to this point.  I have had many clients who have had to do the work of two or three employees before they were laid off. Many have stated that it was relief to finally be free of the demands that they were under.  It’s not always the case, but there was probably at least some tension in the organization that things weren’t going well.
  3. Those who remain will have it even tougher: While getting laid off can be a really difficult time emotional, financially, and otherwise, but for the employees who remain, it can be even more stressful.  There’s not only the added workload that is now piled onto what was probably an already overburdened employee, but also the specter of “Will this happen again?  Will I be next?”  Just that worry can create stress and physical illnesses.

This doesn’t take away from the realities of all of sudden finding out that you don’t have a job.  That can be a tremendous stress factor in life affecting relationship, finances, sense of purpose and other issues.  Those are big issues, and I can’t cover them all in one blog post, but getting a sense of control of your life is one of the best things when you feel lost. Here are some steps you can do immediately after getting laid off that can help get some sense of order back in your life:

  • Take Care of Yourself: The stress of suddenly having all of your support systems removed can do a job on your physical and mental health.  It’s easy to be confused and wallow in depressing upon hearing the news, and it’s natural to have some time afterwards where you are just lying on the couch and watching YouTube videos of cats.  At some point, you will need to get up and start taking some action.  The best thing is to start with your own body, as it has to carry you around to interviews.  Do something physical (walking, cardio, weights, etc.), mental (mediation, yoga, prayer, etc.), and social (meet with friends, got to events, etc.)  Just the process of moving and making sure you’re okay will help you to do the other things you will need to do.
  • Get All Your Medical Issues Addressed: Often in the US, if you lose your job, you also lose your health insurance.  Find out how long you have it, and quickly schedule any appointments and tests (doctors, therapists, etc.) as well as getting refills for your prescriptions for the maximum amount possible.  You will probably have the ability to go on COBRA to continue your benefits, but you have up to 60 days to register, so it’s better to get everything done that you can while you are covered, and then wait until you have to pay for COBRA, as you might be lucky and land another job before you have to pay. Also, make sure you submit and health care reimbursements immediately, as you may not have access to them later, and that can help for tax purposes.
  • Let Everyone Know You’re Available: You need to have all eyes and ears out there working for you, and this can only happen if they know your situation.  Post on social media and let people know that you’re looking for work.  Not only will you get some support, but you never know who it is that knows of an opportunity.
  • Get Your Materials Updated:  This goes without saying, but update your resume, LinkedIn profile, social media, etc. so you are ready whenever an opportunity arises.
  • Make a Plan: While it would be nice if your Fairy Godmother came down and fixed your life for you, it probably isn’t going to happen.  Put together a plan of how you are going to make your job search happen.  I and many other professionals are here to walk you through this process.  Get serious about it!

So, do you have other recommendations to add?

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