Your project is put on hold and you notice your team in meetings without you.
You've seen this happen to other people who were laid off but you don't believe it will happen to you.
You ignore that sinking feeling because you've always done what you were suppose to do and have even gone above and beyond the call of duty.
And then it happens.
You get the call.
You go into the office (still in denial).
And you get the news ... along with the infamous cardboard box.
Feelings of betrayal and anger boil up just to be overcome by an overwhelming dread ...
It's never easy to lose your job and sometimes it is hard to decide what to do.
Recently I've had a few friends who have lost their jobs and all around me I've been hearing about layoffs.
The purpose of this article is to get people moving again.
Here is what you should do if you lose your job:
The last thing you want to do in this situation is feel like a victim. Take responsibility that you were let go because the company no longer needed what you had to offer. It is important to realize that you are not entitled to job security and no one owes you anything. If you felt undervalued, under-appreciated or under-utilized, it is of your own doing.
Who didn't speak up when they should have?
Who didn't volunteer for the new initiative? or
Who didn't meet with their manager to clarify performance criteria?
It was you.
Even if you were laid off because of economic or business conditions, consider why you or your department was let go and not other people. If your whole company went bankrupt, did all your competitors? If not, why not?
Only when you take responsibility can you learn from the situation and focus your energy in a resourceful and productive way. People who feel victimized waste their energy complaining and garnering pity. They feel that someone should come to their rescue or fix the situation. I'm sorry to tell you this but reinforcements are not on the way. You'll need to handle this on your own.
Let Go and Move On
You are not your result. The faster you understand this, the faster you will make a full recovery. Being laid off is something that happens to you not something you become. Learn from this "negative" experience, determine the actions you will take and move on. Don't make the one mistake people make when learning from their mistakes.
Accept that you were laid off and view this setback as opening doors for other opportunities (at least that's what Albert Einstein would do). Just because your current employer lets you go, doesn't mean other employers don't want to pick you up. Also, this may be the perfect chance for you to start that business you've always wanted. Start experimenting.
Job Search: Quality Over Quantity
You may be tempted to just update your résumé, connect with everyone on LinkedIn and begin sending out resumes for every job out there but that would be a big mistake. It would probably result in being thrown into another job that you're not too excited about, which results in mediocre performance and over time in getting laid off. It doesn't make sense to send out another résumé until you have a good idea about what you want to do (unless you need the money - then get any job to make ends meet and learn how to manage your finances better).
This is your chance to figure out what you want. In my Know What You Want Workshop, we emphasize the need to look within (your values, personality, transferable skills, interests, etc.) to figure out who you are, what you enjoy doing and identifying the jobs that fit you. If you want to figure it out on your own, I recommend that you pick up The Pathfinder by Nicholas Lore or What Color is Your Parachute by Richard Bolles or both and work through the exercises in these books before you start sending out resumes. My own experience has shown that looking within works and when you have a clear sense of what you want to do, it's easier for people to help you.
If you do know what you want to do, then begin to network (informational interviews work very well), build the skills that you want to use and market yourself. If you have a hard time selling yourself to prospective employees, read the How to Sell Series. You may also be interested in my book to help you create a viable plan to turn your dream job into reality.
Losing your job is never a fun experience but it can easily become a blessing in disguise if you take responsibility, let go and move on and conduct a QUALITY job search.
If you are feeling stuck or have any questions or advice for people who've lost their jobs, feel free to share it in the comments section.
Photo credit: J. Ronald Lee
Robert Chen is the founder of Embrace Possibility and author of The Dreams to Reality Fieldbook. He helps people who feel stuck move forward by guiding them to see other possibilities for their lives. He specializes in working with high performers get to the next level. If you're going through a tough time right now, check out Robert's article on How to Feel Better Right Away and if you're having trouble getting what you want out of life, check out How to Always Achieve Your Goals.