When you are laid off

I have been laid off twice in my life. Both times were painful, yet both led to major leaps forward in my career.  I got some great advice during those troubling times, and I want to pass it forward to anyone who is in the same boat right now. Feel free to add more advice in the comments below and forward this post to a friend if you find it useful.  Here we go:

Move on.  Your new job is to find a new job and it starts now.  Every minute you spend wondering “why me?” is a wasted minute.  More often than not a layoff decision is based on priorities and fit, not talent or intelligence.  So start looking for a new fit with your head held high.

Refresh your resume with successes.  Listing responsibilities is not as powerful as describing recent measurable achievements.  Follow the Situation / Action / Result format and find a way to quantify what you’ve done.  These will also be the stories you tell in your interview, so practice them in advance.  Getting your resume into LinkedIn with the right keywords is NOT optional.

Your resume will not pick up the phone and get you an interview.  People in your network will.  Help your friends help you by doing the research up front on posted openings in their company, then also ask for referrals to their colleagues who may have unlisted openings. And sometimes your friend may have just the right opening for you on their team.

Get out there. Go to association meetings, join a Toastmasters club or take a class.  Meet people, ask what they do and really listen.  Prepare a short speech on what you’re all about and bring a business card.  Staying holed up in your house sending resumes all day is not enough (trust me on this one.)

Start consulting.  Immediately call your friends and ask if they know of any short-term projects that need doing.  Keep the commitment level low to get in the door, then show ‘em what you can do.  Contracting gives the company the ability to “audition” you, and gives you the ability to audition them.  The cash and self-esteem feel good too.

Confidence sells. You don’t have to know everything about a new job to be qualified for it.  Your abilities to learn, adapt, solve problems and communicate may be more important than “extensive experience.” And by far the most important quality you will be evaluated on is your attitude. So be positive and confident.

The fear, uncertainty and doubt from my layoffs are still vivid memories in my mind.  And so are the moments of triumph when I got a fresh start with a new opportunity. I share this out of love for my friends who are about to see a new door open for them.  You know who you are.  Go find that door and walk through it.

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10 Comments on “When you are laid off”

  1. MrWes Says:

    Whatever you do, stay connected. Networking is key. Network with people who you know is good, but don’t forget to put yourself in new situations to meet new people.
    Volunteer to keep your skills sharp.
    I know of people who volunteered at Chambers of Commerce only to be hired because of their professionalism and constant contact with businesses.

  2. Amanda Schmidt Says:

    If you haven’t read ‘The Last Lecture’ – do it. It will put things in perspective. This particular quote from Randy Pausch resonated with me:

    ‘The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They are there to stop the other people!’

    The job offer I just got was because I went around and around internally, did not give up, and did not wait for their process. They were so busy it would never have happened. They did not have an opening for me- but created it. I start Monday and cannot wait!

  3. Mike Tomasello Says:

    David, speaking as someone who has been laid off in the past, you gave the best possible advice succinctly and powerfully. Well done, I’ll share this others.

    I would also add, do the math in terms of how long you think you can live without a job. Not because it will be hard, because this is an amazing opportunity to find something even better that will be a great fit for you. Focus on what you want and your ideal and you’ll know the timeline you have for getting there. Believe in yourself and that you deserve it and it will come.

  4. Khoder Baydoun Says:

    Great advice. These are things we should do all the time, regardless, to prepare for the unthinkables and lurking surprises around blind corners. Let your values and beliefs guide you. Treat the moment that you are living as if it is the last moment and stay active. It is good for your body and mind to follow the advice of Mr. Goad. Why wait until one is laid off. Be in good shape, mentally and physically today so when things happen, you are in shape to catch up quick.
    David, thank you for your generosity. Our lives are better partly because of you.

    • davidgoad Says:

      Thanks Khoder! And good point… if you practice networking consistently, new opportunities will come your way whether you are looking or not!

  5. ejlindy Says:

    Love this David. Dead on. Thank you! Excellent post.


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