1. Don’t take it personal.
Business is rough. Even in the industries that seem stable and within companies that seem to be thriving, there are so many factors that go into the decision of a layoff that make it impossible to predict if or when it will happen or who it will happen to. So don’t focus on that. Accept it for what it is: a really unfortunate situation. Your boss does not want to lose a valuable asset and you do not want to lose your job, but somewhere in the company’s management, a decision was made and both of you have to deal with the effects.
2. Take the opportunity to reinforce your bridges.
One unique aspect of layoffs is that your reaction to the news shows your boss how you handle yourself professionally when you are under personal distress. I had not considered what I would do in case it happened to me, but what I was sure of was that I loved going into work every day and had felt like I was treated with respect. When the bad news came, it surprised me that my feelings about the company did not change. Because of that, I went out to the stairwell to have my cry and then came back into the office to train the woman who would be taking over my account so she knew what to do. I said my goodbyes and thanked my boss for the experience I had there. My boss came over later, gave me his card, and told me that he appreciated how I handled things and to call him if I needed anything.
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Two weeks later, when they needed someone to manage a project that I had been setting up previously, I was the first person they called. That project turned into me helping out in various departments which turned into another year and a half at the company. If I was never laid off, I may have not had the opportunity to recruit, research prospective clients for the sales team and work in social media marketing; all of which I enjoyed very much. Those new roles also diversified my skill set and gave me a well-rounded perspective on the business of recruitment outsourcing. I do not think everything happens for a reason, but I do believe that you can learn something valuable from every experience.
3. Reach out for support.
I was laid off on a Friday and fortunately had family visiting for the weekend. I took a drive over to my parents’ house where they were visiting and braced myself for the embarrassing consolations of “Hang in there” and “This is a blessing in disguise.”
I thought that getting my mind off of it by distracting myself would be the best course of action, but I was wrong. There I was, sitting down with family after I felt like my world had collapsed and attempting not to be a Debbie Downer by talking about what had happened.
My parents had informed them of what happened before I arrived and, to my surprise, they reached out with supportive tales of the layoffs they have experienced. Each of these seasoned professionals had built successful careers in their fields, yet had felt the sting of a layoff themselves. I found this discussion comforting and encouraging because it made me realize that the pain I felt would fade. How long it took would be up to me.
4. Be proactive.
Have your cry, do something fun, and then turn your focus into your job search. Reflecting on what happened and what you think you could have done to prevent it will only drive you crazy.
5. Let it show you what you need to work on.
Although the reasons for your layoff have nothing to do with your performance, any disappointment or event that we perceive as failure tends to heighten our awareness of the areas we need to work on. Any weaknesses that we may have shrugged to the side come to the surface in the face of events that shake up our worlds. Maybe you got into the habit of coming into work late because no one said anything to you about it. Or maybe you could have managed your time more efficiently. Chances are, these habits did not contribute to your layoff, but it is good to notice our areas for improvement. And that, I think, is one of the most valuable things to come out of a layoff.