Getting your mind around a layoff is both an emotional and a logistical undertaking; it is a loss that ushers in a flurry of tasks. It is essential to get the support and clarity you need with both sides of this life change.
First, you need some space to examine your feelings around this unexpected job loss, so that you can communicate about it honestly and strategically. The second part of the project is preparing your candidacy materials and kicking off your job search.
- Mourn your loss
This is already a difficult time in our country. Losing your job on top of that makes a hard time even more challenging. Give yourself permission to feel that loss. Talk with a career counselor, therapist, or whoever can help you examine and neutralize your feelings around your layoff. Get your emotional work done so that you can understand and manage your feelings about this.
Then you can bolster your confidence and your candidacy package and start getting excited about your next role.
- Fortify your narrative
A layoff is nothing to be ashamed of. In some cases, being laid off reflects negatively on the candidate if the interviewer does not know the difference between laid off and fired. Firing is being terminated for a cause that is under the control of the employee (behavior, performance, not living up to company standards) while a lay off is due to someone being let go for something out of his or her control. Examples of being laid off include financial, company merger, change in business direction, loss of a product or service.
The key to turning it around is to explain calmly and clearly why you are no longer with the company. This is why it is so important to work through your emotions as a first step. You want to be able to discuss your layoff in a concise, non-emotional way. Shape that message as part of your pre-search work.
- Share your narrative
When it comes to your candidacy package, mention your layoff in your resume, cover letter, and in your interview. There is nothing to hide here. The details can be shared simply and concisely on the resume. The cover letter can include a brief mention. You want to accurately discuss your experience, but you do not have to get too bogged down in the details. As a candidate, you need to focus on moving forward.
During an interview, it is important to be prepared to calmly discuss the layoff. Make sure that you practice your response and that it is never tinged with any kind of negativity or animosity. It is important to remember that the layoff was caused by any number of reasons, including a business/financial decision. Rather, be prepared to discuss your accomplishments within this position and your other positions.
You have to consider questions like these to inform your narrative: Were others in your team laid off as well? How many? If it was just you, who was laid off, why? What was the business reason for the layoff?
- Always build
Waiting is such an intricate part of a job search. Do not resign yourself to it. Continue adding to your professional profile as you search. Be prepared to discuss what you have been doing since being laid off. Have you attended a training? Have you acted as a consultant, a temporary staff member? Did you step into another position to gain more skills? Did you volunteer?
This way, you can move your mindset and your answers to future interview questions beyond the layoff conversation and onto what you want your next chapter to look like.
Layoffs happen. Be kind and patient with yourself as you work through this.
Do not take it personally; it is not you. You were a victim of a business decision, and no matter how long you worked there or how well you performed, that business is going to continue only this time, without you.
You will go on to do great things somewhere else!
Originally published on Glassdoor