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5 Tips for Navigating a Layoff

I have not been laid off in 2023 (at least not yet), so I admit that any commentary I make about the current layoff situation could be met with a “you have no idea what this is like so you have no right to chime in,” sort of response.

Fair enough. There is a difference between observing what is happening around you and feeling that thing happening to you. I am not in the emotional bubble.

There is, however, some benefit to being emotionally unattached. Being aware of things happening around you without experiencing them allows you to see the facts objectively. This can be quite helpful to others. Anyone who has ever helped a friend through a difficult relationship knows this.

For example, I know from observing a few layoff cycles that just about everyone who has been let go will land on their feet, even though it doesn’t feel like it right now. In fact, many will wind up in even better situations and will think, “wow, being laid off was the best thing that ever happened to me!” Of course, no one wants to hear this right after being laid off. It’s like telling someone who recently lost a loved one, “you’ll feel better in time.” It’s not very comforting in the moment, but it’s true.

I also know that certain people have a better chance of improving their situations than others. It all depends on what actions they take as a result of being laid off. I’ve observed those actions over and over again in my career. They work. I list them below.

And finally, I know that many of us will experience a layoff at some point in our careers, and that the best time to prepare for it is now.

I think we should all act like we’ll be laid off tomorrow, not just by doing great work every day, but also by building a job-landing skills.

Here are a few things I think we all should be doing, whether we have a job or not.

Talk to people about your situation

The worst thing people can do after being laid off is retreating into themselves. Talking to people is a great way to process your feelings and articulate what you want to do next. Friends, family, work associates. If they are interested, lay it on them!

Nurture Your Network

Whether you are looking for a job or not, you can keep nurturing relationships in your network. You can do favors for people. You can send notes to themnotes them on LinkedIn to check in. You can ask for 15-minute informational interviews. You can take people to lunch. I met my current boss more than a decade ago in business school. After we graduated, he made a point to call me every couple of years to catch up. When I wanted to make a career change about a year ago, it was an easy conversation with him because we had kept in touch all those years.

Dust Off Your Resume

Opportunities pop up quickly. Someone might say to you tomorrow, “hey, send me your resume.” It’s better to send it over right away while things are hot than it is to wait a week while you try to remember how to write bullet points. Just have it ready. See my notes on how to write a great resume here.

Be Job Interview Ready

This is not an overnight thing. It takes time to craft your stories, and even more time to practice them. Of course, you’ll have to do some unique prep for each job that comes up, but you can work to get a strong baseline before that. If you are interested, I have a free module to my Job Interview Pro course on my website. Access it here.

Be Patient

Sometimes there are external factors out of your control. Just because things aren’t happening for you right now doesn’t mean that you aren’t doing the right things. Just keep at it so that you are better prepared when things open up. And they will open up.


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