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4 steps to follow right after a layoff

4 steps to follow right after a layoff

You have just learned that you have been laid off: what should you do now? It's important to get your act together and plan the next step in your career now. Follow our advice to help you get through this stage.

It doesn't matter how your layoff happened, whether you worked for a company for ten months or ten years, whether you were notified by an impersonal email or a sympathetic conversation, it still hurts. For many of us, work is intimately connected to our identities and our contribution to society. So when a company lays us off, the questions that come to mind are not simply, "What am I going to do next?" but also "Who am I?"

There is a flood of complicated and heavy emotions to process in the weeks that follow, and it is important to take the time to process them. But it's also essential to take some steps early on, ideally within the first 24 hours: because as time goes on, you'll be moving away from the people, projects, and data that are invaluable to landing your next job. So you'll want to prepare yourself to move on to a new professional opportunity more quickly.

That's where my job comes in. I'm an outplacement coach, which means I help recently separated professionals revamp their resumes, LinkedIn profiles and cover letters, develop a job search strategy, and interview preparation.

Nearly every client I have worked with lands a new position within three months. Clients who accelerate their career transition tend to take one or more of these four steps immediately, and you may want to do the same.

1. Gather your documents and data.

Your computer contains a lot of information that can help you create a strong professional brand, and present yourself as a promising candidate in the job search. It's best to keep an ongoing file with your key accomplishments, in a place you can always access (i.e. not on a computer or work account). Collect what you can now. Here are some things to capture as soon as possible while you still have access to your work accounts:

  • Certificates
  • Reports/data
  • Client, boss, executive, peer and any other distinction
  • Performance reviews
  • Promotional recognition
  • Impactful project results
  • Network contact information

Think of eye-catching numbers that provide clear evidence of your success. Do you have a report showing a recent marketing strategy you developed that increased the company's website readership? By what percentage? Did your relationship building skills increase revenue through sales or partnerships? How much? These numbers can inflate your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile to help a reader see your impact.

Note that many companies will block you from accessing your email and other accounts as soon as you are terminated. If this is the case, don't worry. Past clients have been smart to ask former colleagues or managers for information, estimate the number of impacts, and use public company documents to link their contributions to positive outcomes.

2. Create or join a group with your laid-off colleagues.

Mass layoffs can trigger anxiety, but they also offer some comfort: you're not leaving alone. A growing number of my clients are jumping on Slack, Google Chat and WhatsApp to form groups of recently laid-off people, where they share job opportunities, connections and motivational messages.

These networking groups lead to a significant increase in connections, referrals and especially those obtained on LinkedIn, referrals that speed up the search process. This will also allow you to nurture one-on-one conversations about company culture, work-life balance and more at potential companies.

3. Share with your LinkedIn community.

When the only thing you do on LinkedIn after a layoff is put your profile on "Open for Work," you're not giving your network the opportunity to help you. A post about your recent layoff and hopes for your next career move sets the stage for your LinkedIn network to like, share and send you opportunities.

Daniel Roth, editor and vice president of LinkedIn, shared the story of an attorney named Catherine Cambridge, for example, who was recently laid off and posted about it on LinkedIn. "At least 30 people contacted me with potential opportunities and asked me directly to apply for open positions," she told Daniel Roth.

This story is consistent with what I've seen with my clients. Those who publish quickly on their layoffs have smoother transitions than those who don't. One client showed me a list of opportunities in our first session, all accumulated from a LinkedIn post that probably only took her 20 minutes to write.

Here are some tips for writing a strong post that will drive engagement:

  • Showcase your accomplishments.
  • Be clear about what you want in your next position and the unique impact you will make.
  • Tag connections at companies you want to work for.
  • Use the Hashtag #OpenToWork, job titles of the position(s) you're looking for, and the industry so recruiters can easily find you.

4. Contact a career coach.

Meeting with a career coach can help you feel supported and guided in a productive, forward-looking direction. So, go through your termination documents or ask your human resources manager as soon as possible if career coaching or outplacement is part of your severance package. If it is, contact your coach to get started as soon as possible.

Article inspired by the article '4 Steps to Take Right After a Layoff ' to Land Your Next Job ASAP by Emily Clark for The Muse.


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