5 Practical Tips for Surviving a Layoff

Updated: Jul 22

We’ve all seen the news recently. Company after company announcing staff reductions, furloughs and layoffs due to COVID-19. Consumer businesses like Coca-Cola, Nordstrom and American Airlines have all announced deep cuts. Meanwhile, B2B companies are following suit with much less news coverage. Chances are, if it’s never happened to you before, you may not skirt this next round of reductions.


However, it may not be as bleak as it sounds. This could be a great time to re-evaluate what you want in life. Maybe this is the perfect catalyst for a career change or to start your own business? Regardless of your path ahead, here are five things you can do to survive the days ahead.


Set daily goals: Reach out to five connections a day, apply to two jobs, have lunch with one person.


1) Take time to process the news and grieve. Yes, you will need time to grieve, even if you’re actually happy about being let go. Turns out rejection can actually hurt the same way we feel physical pain, because our brains process physical pain and rejection exactly the same. If you’ve been in the workforce for a long time, this can be a significant blow. Your colleagues that were like family may suddenly go MIA. People you expected to have your back, might not. All of this rejection can add up and result in emotional pain, which needs to be dealt with.


The key here is not to take too much time to deal with it though. The longer we allow ourselves to wallow in misery, the more that behavior will become a habit. Deal with the news by journaling, talking to supportive friends and family members, or enjoying some much-needed downtime alone to sort your thoughts. Cut ties with your former job as quickly as you can. When I was impacted by a layoff, my employment was terminated immediately, which meant the sooner I could return my company devices and clean out my desk, the sooner I could move on. I was laid off on a Wednesday and by Friday morning I had rid myself of all company reminders. I was now free and clear of the old me, which meant I could focus on the new me.

2) Leave on good terms. The world is far too small to go out any other way. Trust me – we’ve all wanted to leave in true mic drop fashion, but it won’t do you any favors in the long run. Do your best to remain calm and collected. Smile and know that everything you learned will help you in your future endeavors. Even if you hated your job, there is something you gained along the way. (How not to manage a team, perhaps?) If your emotions get the best of you, ask if you can have a moment to collect your thoughts. Remember that this is not the end of the world – even if it feels like it. It’s just setting you up for a comeback!

3) Ask for recommendations. When I left my job, one of the first things I did was to get recommendations from people that I had managed. It was a strong testimony to my leadership skills, something I had worked hard to hone and would likely need in future roles. Additionally, I asked senior leaders that I had a good relationship with to write me a recommendation. This way I had feedback from all levels of the organization. If you’ve left on good terms, there should be someone that will oblige and write a glowing LinkedIn recommendation for your profile. Recruiters and hiring companies will check this section of your profile, so make sure it isn’t blank.

4) Network, network, network. Hopefully, you’ve done a good job cultivating your network over the past few years. Now is not the time to be starting from scratch. Set a daily goal for yourself. Perhaps you want to reach out to five people a day. I recommend personal outreach versus a canned email that is Bcc’d to loads of people. When you take the time to reach out individually, you’re more likely to get a response and you can more clearly explain where you’re looking for help.


After my recent layoff, I had a conversation with the CEO of GaggleAMP, an employee advocacy platform. I’d been a loyal customer of the company for over 4 years. We’d cultivated a strong relationship overtime and had mutual respect for each other. As I was explaining my desire to do more motivational speaking, he shared a connection that runs a women’s speaker bureau and promptly made the introduction. By taking the time to have a one-on-one conversation I could better articulate my goals and their CEO could better point me in the right direction. If we hadn’t had that conversation, he probably would have sent me job descriptions for Marketing Directors, assuming I wanted to stay in the same field.


5) Stay positive and visualize success. Stay positive might seem hard at first. I would encourage you to do whatever it takes to keep a positive attitude and outlook on life. Try putting a sticky note on your mirror with a positive affirmation or beginning your day with gratitude (name something you’re grateful for). If you do find yourself sulking, recognize that you’re probably still grieving. Grab your phone or a kitchen timer and set it for fifteen minutes. Allow yourself to vent, scream, cry, say horrible things, whatever you need to do to work through the emotion. As soon as the timer goes off, stop the pity party and move on with your day. Overtime, you’ll reduce the amount of time on the timer in increments of five minutes. Try it!


One of my favorite techniques as a life coach, is to have my clients practice visualization. Visualization is where you imagine and visualize what it is you want in your head. If you’re looking for a high-paying CFO job at a Financial Services company, then you would simply visualize interviewing, being offered the job, and starting your first day. By repeating this in your head over and over, you’re more likely to achieve your goal.


I know from experience that being laid off can be challenging; it can even hurt. Everyone processes the situation differently. The people that quickly adapt and learn to live with their new circumstances, build a game plan and take action, will be the ones that thrive. For more financial tips, check out this page I found from Fidelity. If you’re lucky enough to still be employed, you might want to start networking and prepare yourself, just in case your organization announces a layoff. Remember the old adage: better safe than sorry.


Have some additional tips for surviving a layoff? Please share them by leaving a comment below.


If you’re ready to transform your life having trouble overcoming your fears and self-sabotaging, a Life Coach would be a huge benefit for you. Learn more about how I help clients like you, EDIT™ Your Life and achieve your goals.

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