Q: I was laid off this week and was not prepared for it. I knew it could be coming, but didn’t face it. I’ve got a small financial cushion but really need to get a new job fast. What should I do? — Rene, 44, customer service supervisor
A: Before you jump into next steps, take some time to catch your breath. It’s really important to process what happened, especially since you weren’t ready for it.
It would be natural to be angry, sad, afraid or a combination thereof. Don’t be hard on yourself for these feelings; just notice and let yourself feel them. Keeping them in or denying them will only make you feel worse in the long run.
You may also be surprised to feel some relief or exhilaration. Let yourself enjoy the possibilities that the layoff opens up for you without second guessing it.
While you are at it, think about your pre-layoff denial. If this is your typical response to challenges, it would be a good pattern to break.
Now it’s on to action. First of all, let people know. Sometimes people are ashamed and hide the news about the layoff.
The problem with this is that other people are the best source for new opportunities. But if they don’t know you are on the job market, they won’t mention possibilities that may be a good fit.
Plus, talking about it can help normalize the experience and take out some of the sting. You may be surprised by how many people have been in your shoes.
Figure out what you would like to do next. Do you want a similar job or would a change suit you better?
Consider if the layoff is an indicator of a dying line of work or if it’s just a company-specific event. If your industry is eliminating jobs like yours, it might be wise to look at alternatives.
At the very least, build that into your mid- to long-term plan so that you are not caught in a preventable cycle of layoffs.
Make full use of any resources you have. Often layoffs include career-planning and transition services. Don’t let these go to waste.
If your company isn’t helping, check with your state and local governments. Typically there will be an agency that focuses on workforce development and job placement. They are a wealth of information and support.
They may also have group meetings for people who have been laid off, which can provide additional support. This can also ease some of the emotional burden from people close to you.
Give yourself permission to enjoy yourself. This is a serious situation, but despite the grief and anxiety that goes with it, you probably can’t solve it overnight.
Structure your time to ensure you are doing the work of job searching. But take advantage of your flexibility to do some fun daytime activities with family and friends. You can always respond to emails in the evening!
Stay focused on finding a new job while doing your best to have a healthy, happy life. This is the best path to a positive outcome.