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10 Tips to Weather the Layoff Storm

It seems we have sauntered from The Great Resignation to The Great Layoff Expectation. There are so many announcements about the layoffs happening these days that employees are becoming jittery, wondering when it will be their time.

Of course, layoffs happen all the time, and they are difficult for those affected, but the disrespectful, and unconscionable ways in which they are happening these days is doubly hurtful. Employees being laid-off / fired over Zoom, email, text, is inhumane!

The reality is that none of us are insulated from layoffs. Although the news is usually shocking, layoffs don’t just happen. Invariably, there are subtle signs that things are amiss, and as companies make these critical business decisions, struggle to maintain a tighter rein on costs, and create “simpler nimbler” structures, job seekers can do their part to weather the layoff storm, if and when it comes.

  1. Keep an eye out for tell-tale signs in your company.

If you are becoming a bit jittery at work because things don’t seem right, and if the grapevine is quite active, conduct your own due diligence. Has the company been in the news lately? What for? Did it meet analysts’ expectations? Did it have a management shakeup? Are there dramatic fluctuations of its share price? This is not to suggest that you become paranoid, but you also don’t want to be the ostrich with its head in the sand. The answers to these questions will be a good indicator of where your company is heading and if you should jump ship.

  1. Take advantage of professional development opportunities offered by the company.

Many employees do not take advantage of their company’s professional development offerings. These may be formal training where you attend classes outside of work, or free in-house courses offered as lunch-and-learn programs. Even if your company does not offer training, don’t forget the myriad of elearning programs available on the Internet, but also on LinkedIn Learning. Although your job may appear safe at the moment, it doesn’t mean you should stop learning.

  1. Be on the lookout for internal vacancies, and assess yourself to see if your skills match the requirements.

Speak with someone within that department to gather additional information about the position and then submit your application. In addition, climbing the career growth ladder might sometimes mean having to make a lateral career move, so be flexible.

  1. Find out if there are opportunities to job-shadow another employee or be cross-trained on a system.

Such initiatives will put you ahead of your competitor, or prepare you for your next career opportunity, whether within or outside the company.

  1. Arrange career conversations and informational interviews to keep abreast of industry developments.

Career conversations are similar to informational interviews but they are usually initiated by your manager. Don’t wait for that to happen. Be proactive. Arrange a meeting to discuss your career aspirations, growth and development. Informational interviews tend to be arranged with people outside your company. They allow you to learn more about a field you are interested in, or to keep current with trends in your industry. These two approaches are not mutually exclusive, so be alert to see if you can use any of the knowledge gained to enhance your current position.

  1. Start a journal of your special achievements, comments made by your supervisor or coworkers, and awards and recognitions received.

Review your performance appraisals. What did your supervisor say about you? What special projects did you work on, and what role did you play? Check your email for messages from vendors, coworkers, even your boss, that attest to your capabilities. All these notes will come in handy when you are ready to brush up your résumé, and articulate your successes in interviews.

  1. Develop and nurture a network of contacts, even if you’re not yet looking for a job.

Many people have the misconception that networking is “brown-nosing,” or it’s done only when one is job hunting. Those are myths. Networking is an ongoing process that takes time to grow, but when you nurture your network, it becomes very valuable when faced with a layoff, or when changing careers. As author Harvey MacKay said, you should “dig your well before you are thirsty”.

  1. Join professional associations, and contribute.

Some people join professional associations but do not participate; they do not volunteer for leadership positions. Their goal in joining the association is to beef up their resumes. Contributing allows you to learn new skills, meet new people and build credibility among your peers. Also, many organizations send their job postings to some of these associations before they hit the job boards. Demonstrating that you are an active member of a professional association will be a great addition to your résumé.

  1. Find a mentor, and ask for help.

Is there someone whom you admire in or outside your company? Contact that person and ask if he or she would be willing to be your mentor. Even if they cannot, you could still discuss your uncertainties or your career plans with them. It’s never a weakness to ask for help.

  1. Embrace change.

There are times when a layoff is just what you may need to propel you to action; to change careers; to do something different. Redirect your energy into something productive and don’t feel sorry for yourself. Take a long hard look at where you are in your career. Are you satisfied? Have you reached a plateau in the company? Is it time for a change?

Bottom Line

After all this, if you are still uncertain about your future, enlist the help of a career coach who can steer you in the right direction. Whatever you do, make proactive choices now, not reactive ones later.

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Article first published by the author on Job-Hunt.Org.

Layoffs – Not all Doom and Gloom: 7 Tips to Cushion the Blow

Layoffs_Again

As I listened to the message, the woman’s tone was one of panic and confusion. “I have just been laid off after 20 years at the same job. I received a severance package, but I am in my mid fifties and will need to continue working. I never took any additional training all these years, and don’t have a clue how to conduct a job search. Can you help me?”

Several questions starting with “Why…, What… and How…?”, raced through my mind, but I banished them very quickly, because it wasn’t the time to be self-righteous. She was in a serious crisis, and needed a listening ear.

Conversely, I was recently contacted by two senior management professionals, one was a referral from a client, and the other found me online. In both cases, changes are taking place in their respective companies, and they have an inkling that layoffs are imminent. Although both believe there could be internal opportunities, they are not taking any chances. They are being proactive and are making plans for what may or may not happen. After all, it’s better to hope for the best, but for the worst.

Layoffs happen quite frequently, and no one ever gets used to it. Falling oil prices have led to massive layoffs in the Canadian energy industry. Rogers Communications recently eliminated several hundred middle management positions as part of its revitalization plan. And recently, Microsoft announced it would be laying off 7,800 of its employees from its phone division. This is enough for any employee or job seeker to be terrified.

The truth is, downsizing, rightsizing, restructuring, or whatever other name it is called, is a way of life in today’s economy. When it’s time to restructure, years of service and loyalty will not guarantee anyone a position in a revitalized organization.

But, it’s not all doom and gloom. If by some misfortune you are laid off, there are several strategies you can use to cushion the blow and minimize its impact:

  1. Give yourself permission to be angry. Don’t bottle up your feelings. Anger, as long as it’s not misplaced, could have a healing effect. However, do not vent at work or with coworkers or your boss. Such behaviour could be construed as negative and unprofessional; could damage relationships, and thwart your chances of getting a good reference. Find a safe place where you can let off the steam.
  2. Get support. Find a trustworthy person who will listen to you, and give you some good advice. Stay away from anyone who is inclined to help you bash the company or your boss as this is counter-productive.  There might also be free and fee-based resources within your community you could explore to see if they can help you find a new career path.
  3. Engage in self-care. This is an opportunity for you to put yourself first. This is not the time to beat upon yourself and question your ability or self-worth. Take that long-awaited vacation to clear your head and develop strategies to help you bounce back. Use this time to redirect your energy into something productive. Get some exercise, or just relax.
  4. Spotlight your assets. Turn this negative experience into something positive. Begin by spotlighting your assets. What are you good at? What have you accomplished? What awards, recognitions and comments have you received from your supervisor, coworkers and customers? Write out an inventory of your transferable skills that could benefit another employer. All of these are your assets – documented evidence that validate your capabilities – and will help you when you are ready to craft your résumé.
  5. Review your résumé and online profiles. A one-size-fits-all résumé will not work in today’s competitive job environment, neither will an incomplete LinkedIn Profile. The résumé needs to be strategic, and oozing with value. This takes time as you will need to assess all of your skills, attributes and achievements, and determine how to showcase them in a way that differentiates you from your competitors. Your online profiles are also essential pieces of your marketing.
  6. Remember this phrase: “This too shall pass”. What you are feeling now is real, but it won’t last forever. Sometimes a layoff is just the prescription you need to propel you to action. Ask yourself some soul-searching questions: “Is it time for me to retool, brush up on my skills or go back to school to gain additional skills? Do I have what it takes to start a business? What do I really enjoy doing, and should I be exploring this as a career option?”
  7. Maintain a positive attitude. The road to a successful job search, especially in such a competitive job market, is paved with disappointments and frustrations, but don’t give up. Tap into your network; join a support group like a job-finding club, engage in social media groups and networking activities that will put you in touch with people who can offer assistance. Be cautious when introduced to other people’s networks, as you don’t want to begin asking ‘strangers’ for help before they get to know you, and vice versa.

These seven tips are not all-inclusive, neither are they meant to trivialize the emotional impact, but they are steps in the right direction to help you deal with a layoff.

Related links:

Plan Ahead Before the Layoff Axe Falls (first published on Job-Hunt.org)

Got Laid Off? So What?

Microsoft Layoffs

 

There’s No Corporate Ladder to Climb: You’re On Your Own!

Today’s post is a link to Mark Schnurman’s article in the New Jersey Business News:

Climbing the corporate ladder is an anachronism today. For most of us, toiling at the same company for our entire career is not a viable option. The frequency of layoffs, mergers and acquisitions, and the transient nature of our society and work force combine to destroy the social contract of lifetime employment with one employer.

Today, each of us is a small-business owner.

We own our careers and our lives and benefit from their fruits.

The seminal question must be: Would you invest in the company called YOU?

Click on the link in the title to read the full article.

Daisy Wright’s Interview with CHUM 104.5 FM

Interviewed this morning by Sara Konings of CHUM 104.5 FM for a new job search series about how to survive job layoffs. I will post the date the series will be aired as soon as I am advised. In the meantime, listen to an earlier interview at http://www.chumfm.com/podcast/MP3s/Interviews/Career%20Coach.mp3