10 Career Steps To Take After A Layoff

February 11 2012

In just the last few weeks, three big companies announced three big layoffs. Pepsi is cutting 8,700 jobs. American Airlines is looking to cut 13,000 jobs. Kraft is cutting 1,600. While the overall unemployment figures are trending down, layoffs are still a very real possibility. Here are 10 steps to take if you’ve been laid off:


  1. Remain professional to others. A layoff is not an excuse to finally give everyone a piece of your mind. Don’t film a dramatic exit to post on YouTube. This is a tough time for everybody, even people who didn’t lose their jobs. Don’t contribute any additional negativity.


  1. Stay positive to yourself. This also isn’t time for negative self-talk. Maybe you regret not starting a job search sooner or not saving more money. Dwelling on what might have been is not going to help you and will in fact fuel additional anxiety and frustration. Instead, think of obstacles you have overcome in the past to focus on things that will give you confidence.


  1. Negotiate your package and end date. Severance packages are often negotiable. Pay attention to your end date because this determines how long you have insurance, how much of your retirement account vests, or how much paid time off you accrue. Don’t feel like you have to sign anything right away. Make sure you understand your package and don’t be afraid to ask questions.


  1. Consider lateral transfers, both permanent and temporary. Your department might be laying off staff, but other areas might be growing. Don’t forget to consider subsidiaries or joint ventures of your employer. Ask about consulting opportunities; sometimes a department doesn’t have permanent headcount but they have a consulting budget and they could benefit from having someone who already knows the internal ropes.


  1. Prepare your story to explain what happened. When there is a large layoff that makes the headlines, it’s easy to summarize your story. But for lesser-known restructurings, you will have to explain to your network and prospective employers what happened. A concise story will do – my department was restructured, or my role was split between two more junior hires, or my area moved to headquarters. Make sure your story matches what your manager or any references will say about your departure.


This post originally appears in my Work In Progress blog for Forbes.com and you can see the rest of the post at http://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2012/02/11/10-career-steps-to-take-after-a-layoff/


Caroline Ceniza-Levine helps people find fulfilling and financially-rewarding career paths, as the co-founder of SixFigureStart®, career coaching by former Fortune 500 recruiters.  She is the co-author of “Six Steps To Job-Search Success” 2011, Flat World Knowledge and “How the Fierce Handle Fear: Secrets to Succeeding in Challenging Times” 2010, Two Harbors Press.  She is also a stand-up comic with Comic Diversity.

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