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Are You Next? What To Do If You're Laid Off

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Financial expert Danielle Hoston: Home Depot, Pfizer, and Sprint all announced massive layoffs today. If you're let go from your job, here's how to survive the fallout.

woman looking depressed in a chair

Let's face it. A lot of us are unemployed and more layoffs are on the horizon. Here's a six-step plan to turn your layoff into a short (and hopefully positive) experience.

1. Don't panic and don't take it personally. It's very simple. Layoffs happen because production has decreased and overhead needs to be reduced. It's not you. It's not your boss. It's just business.

2. Depart gracefully. Get the details of your severance package, health care and 401k options and consider them carefully. Ask for a letter of recommendation from your supervisor. It could be more helpful than your resume in terms of getting your next job.

3. Utilize your resources and cut expenses. File for unemployment benefits immediately. Cut unnecessary expenses and scale back wherever you can. You may even be eligible to receive grants.

4. Breathe and think. Make a list of industries and companies that you're interested in and meet with people that work in them. Research and ask for an honest evaluation of the industry and how you can fit into it.

5. Network. Use the power of the internet and social networking websites (i.e. Facebook and LinkedIn) to expand your network of contacts. Make sure that they know you are looking for a job by personally (and professionally!) relaying your qualifications and experience.

6. Get your next job! Spend at least 3-6 hours per day actively researching and contacting available employment options. Revamp your resume, your interview wardrobe and skill set. Be willing to be open to new career paths and get outside your comfort zone.

I was laid off at probably one of the worst times in my life. My daughter was about 4 months old and her father had just passed away. The timing was terrible, but if I was 100% honest with myself, I hated my job. I was underpaid and was wasting my abilities in a field that I wasn't passionate about. The layoff turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I was able to scrape by with the help of unemployment and my severance package. I learned to be disciplined about my spending and used that time to diligently pursue my next career. It was NOT EASY. In fact, it was one of my most challenging experiences ever. In the end though, the layoff forced me to make the best career decision of my life. If I had known then what I know now, I would have begged for it to happen sooner.

Are you next? Would a layoff be the worst thing that could happen to you right now?

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16 comments so far | Post a comment now
mom_of2boys January 26, 2009, 3:19 PM

I exercised this plan when I found out about my layoff. I almost forgot the letter of recommendation from my boss…she was also laid off at the same time. I wasn’t happy in my job. I wanted to change careers but never did. I think it was fear of the unknown. Being laid off has given me the opportunity to go back to school to learn a new skill and get a degree. Hopefully I’ll be able to find a job afterwards.

Saavvvyyy January 26, 2009, 3:21 PM

Honestly, this entire downturn of the economy has made me look at life differently. I love iPods and all the gadgetry that comes with today’s society, but there is a cost to it (economically, socially and emotionally).

If I were laid off today, I’d study to be a teacher. Actually, that is what I am doing while I work this 9-5.

Leslie January 26, 2009, 4:42 PM

Excellent advice! Most people don’t realize how many jobs are won by networking. Getting someone in the company to get your resume to the right person can make all the difference.

Eric January 26, 2009, 5:47 PM

Another great post. It takes a lot of courage and resolve to view a layoff as an opportunity, but I agree with the advice and think that’s the best perspective to have. Well said.

Kim D. January 26, 2009, 6:55 PM

Great article Danisha! I especially gained some helpful insight from the last paragraph. Keep up the great work lady!


Anonymous January 26, 2009, 7:02 PM

I wish these sucker’s would lay me off! I’ll come back postal style! I’m just playing. My old company went under and we were all in a panic for 6 months as we watched the company go down. The great thing about it was we all went out and got better jobs and new careers! Great advice Miss. Hoston. They say you never know where your blessing could be coming from.

Mike McCarthy January 26, 2009, 8:34 PM

I heard Danielle Hoston is Guru with the $$$. Whatever she is selling, I’m buying!

K8 January 26, 2009, 11:24 PM

Great advice at a time when people might need it most. I myself just quit a job that, after 4 years of very hard work proving myself to be a valuable member of the team, realized they (management) intended to renege on their promises. I had seen the writing on the wall for some time but was reluctant to give up the regular but humiliating salary. Staying as long as I did was detrimental to me in so many ways (mental, physical, emotional, spiritual), and I see now that some of the things that happened weren’t actually opportunities for me to prove how I could once again prove my ability to overcome huge obstacles, they were, instead, nudges to look after myself by moving on to new and better things, even if those things were/are, at this time, unknown. I was subscribing to the adage “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”. I was undervaluing myself. I had put myself ‘on sale’. I am now making a complete about face and reinventing myself - or rather, rediscovering ‘who’ I am, ‘what’ I want to do, and ‘how’ to take the steps necessary to make ‘me’ happen (whether training for a new profession or just staying home with my new Grandson). Wish me luck. :`)

Selene January 26, 2009, 11:59 PM

Now is the time to really get your hustle on.

Lyssa January 27, 2009, 5:01 PM

Hey Danielle,
I am curious …
What is you new career if i may ask? Financial Planner & Adviser?


Leandro January 27, 2009, 11:13 PM

Danielle, I must say this article hit home. I’m currently unemployed and following every one of your point mentioned very carefully. I’m spending closely to 8 hours daily looking for jobs, Joined job agencies, applied for unemployment, and dam near stopped spending on everything I used to spend on. However in my field of work I’ve pretty much applied for every available opening and all I can do now is wait. Wish me luck!!

Jackie Charles January 27, 2009, 11:40 PM

Your article really hit a cord. IM thinking about leaving it all behind and becoming a monk. Or something. Maybe a gay. Not sure . confused. So confused. Peace out.

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