A Roadmap for the Recently Laid Off

Scott Gordon

You’ve been with your company for two or three years—gone to the picnics, schmoozed your manager, won employee of the month, been on the holiday party planning committee and see yourself retiring with your company.

It’s a regular Thursday afternoon—and you get laid off. You never saw it coming.

Even though you’ve been a loyal kool-aid drinking employee for the last two or three years, when you're laid off they don’t offer you severance, your benefits end in two weeks and you’ve already taken your two weeks of vacation for the year. It’s you vs. the world in a battle royale/cage/lumber jack strap match, and your biggest weapons are what personal items you took from your desk when you left. A photo of your wife/husband, a coffee mug and a half eaten tin of Altoids aren’t going to get you very far. Sitting in your car, you curse yourself for not being prepared for the possibilty of being laid off—something you thought would never happen. Get ready for an onslaught of feelings.

As with any other grieving process, when you are laid off prepare for:

  • denial and isolation
  • anger
  • bargaining
  • depression
  • acceptance

What Should You Do Now that You Have Been Laid Off?

  • The first thing anyone is going to ask for when you are laid off for is your resume, and it should be the easiest/quickest thing to produce. Keep your resume updated and kept in your Google Mail/Hotmail, etc. for days just like this. Every time you get a pat on the back, learn a new skill or receive a new title, update your resume. It’s hard to remember what you did two months ago, much less two years ago. Keep your resume updated!
  • If you’ve worked with a recruiter firm before, call them and let them know that a resume is on the way. Include salary information and any other pertinent information they may need to start the job search process. Keep an open line of communication with the recruiter, and don’t spread yourself too thin among different recruiters. Find one or two firms that you really trust and stick with them. It’s OK to "fire" a firm if you feel like they aren’t working for you or are jerking you around.
  • Call all of your friends and let them know you were laid off and are looking for a job. Personal networks provide a bevy of job leads. It’s humbling to tell your buddies that you just lost your job, but you have to make this call.
  • Utilize online resources like Monster, Dice, Careerbuilder, HotJobs, etc.
  • Hit your local User Groups/Chamber Meetings, etc. and hit ‘em hard. Network, network, network.
  • If you don’t have a blog, start one. Ditto w/Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.
  • Call the unemployment office or get online and register. If you think you don’t qualify, register anyway. The worst thing they can say is, "You don’t qualify." Ask your HR representative if you have doubts. I’ve seen people wait two or three months to sign up because they were too proud to call.
  • Get your insurance info together. Make sure you are covered and do all you can to avoid gaps in coverage.
  • If you’ve been laid off in the middle of the month and your insurance will cover you until the end of the month, go to the doctor and dentist and get your prescriptions written for the next three months. Most doctors will oblige.
  • Don’t take your layoff personally. It’s business.
  • Enjoy your time off. Spend it with your family. Make breakfast for the kids, finish a home project you’ve been putting off, catch up on Oprah and relax. It’s a short-term problem, and if you are good at what you do, you’ll be back to work quickly.

Insert my personal philosophy here: Don’t let your job define who you are. It’s OK…really! You’ll recover.