When the Axe Attacks: Survive Being Laid Off

Survivefired_Nov2011_web“We’re letting you go” is one of the scariest and most feared phrases in the workplace. Losing your job can add more pressure and distress today because of the current economic uncertainty. It brings a sense of failure. No matter how hard you worked, they let you go anyway. You’re left with dozens of questions about what you did wrong and what you are going to do next. Sadly, each question might not have an answer in sight.

But life isn’t over, it’s a different chapter. Consider it a new beginning of your life with opportunity to find the work you enjoy, but it has to start with you. Here are some ways you can cope after receiving the pink slip and capitalize on your newly found freedom to turn it into opportunity.

Wait For it

The first few days after being laid off are crucial, which should be dedicated to cautiously observing your situation. What you say or do during those first few days can follow you throughout your job hunt. It’s ok to feel angry, afraid, and apologetic. It’s human nature and should be expressed with your closest friends, relatives, or counselor. But try to avoid jumping into the job search with a heightened sense of emotion.

It’s important to get vision and clarity in your life before chasing a new job. Start by setting some personal goals to achieve during your free time. Try running or walking in the morning, taking up a hobby like playing the guitar or knitting, or finishing a project you’ve put off because you were too busy with work.  Once cool and collected, you’ll have a better chance of communicating your intention to others instead of appearing to have a chip on your shoulder.

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

When the dust has settled and you’ve got a better hold of yourself, take the time to review the most important factor of the separation: you. If you were given reasons why your performance or actions were not up to their standards, try researching and asking colleagues what some good practices are to improve the areas you are the weakest. This is a great place to start with how to become a better worker and employee. Taking the steps to improve will help you perform better in a job interview.

This is also a great opportunity to find out if your line of work is really want you want to be doing. Evaluating yourself can free you from a job where you felt used or underappreciated or wasn’t the best use of your talents. It can help you break out of an industry or company that offers no further growth prospects. You have a chance to explore new careers and fields, find a better-fitting job, or even start your own business.

Who are you? What do you really want to do? Why do you do what you do?

Option Oasis

Once your head has been cooled, you’ll be able to make good choices when options become available to you after you’ve been let go. You might have to talk to your previous employer about unemployment payments or health care extensions, but be nice. It would be in your best interest if you remained civil and calm when discussing these options with your previous employer. You’ll need as much help as you can get when figuring out expenses and other necessities while you search for other employment.

There are several options to consider when you’re ready to start looking for a new job. On top of regular networking, consider volunteering. Nonprofits are always looking for helping hands, and giving time will give you a great way to meet people and demonstrate your abilities. And you’ll be helping the community while you’re at it. There are also many ways staffing companies have helped temporary  and holiday jobs turn a foot in the door into full-time employment.

Losing your job can feel like an earth-shattering experience, but it’s ripe with opportunities if you stay smart, cool, and positive. It could be the chance you’ve been waiting for to change your life for the better. What are some ways you’ve coped after losing a job?


  1. Alex Carlyle

    These are great points. Too many people have a negative attitude that pollutes their attempts to network, get referrals or perform successfully in interviews.

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