The frequency at which major companies are continuing to make layoffs — even after the scrapping of Covid-related restrictions that crippled businesses in the first place — is justifiably alarming for workers and business owners alike. A recent report found that layoffs are sweeping the U.S. as a result of slowing business and rising labor costs, which has affected major companies like Netflix, Peloton and Wells Fargo. This comes as yet another blow for the American workforce, which already suffered an abrupt halt to the longest employment recovery and expansion in U.S. history in March and April 2020.
But while uncontrollables like a global pandemic are large contributors to recent layoffs across industries, it's easy to feel like you did something wrong when it happens to you. Was my performance subpar? Have I not proven the value of my position? Why me and not someone else? It's totally normal to take redundancy personally, but it's important to remember that business owners hate laying people off. And it's rarely a decision taken lightly, but rather one that's done to keep a business alive. If you have been unexpectedly laid off, it's important that you take some time to recalibrate, find perspective, and figure out the next step. Below are five things everyone should do if they get laid off:
1. Reset your mind
It's completely normal to experience feelings of embarrassment or shame after being laid off. But one of the best things you can do for yourself during this time is to reframe your thinking. It's healthy to express your feelings to family and friends and briefly allow yourself to feel any anger, resentment or disappointment that may come up. But then you should work to shake off any negative self-talk that suggests you did something wrong.
You might choose to look at being laid off as a cause for relief or an extra push to finally pursue something different. It's also a good time to reflect on everything you achieved in your role at a time when you might be questioning your abilities. You can write a list of the things you are proud of from the job or your biggest achievements. By writing this list now, it will help you articulate all the positives and value that you brought to the business to aid your search for the next opportunity.
2. Find an industry that excites you
Often when you get comfortable in a job, it's far easier to stay than it is to leave. After all, if it's not broken, why fix it? Being laid off gives you a reason to think seriously about getting a fresh start in an industry that excites you. It's a chance to evaluate your skills and figure out how they might be transferable to a different sector. Not only will applying for jobs that excite you help you to write a glowing resume, but it will come across in your interviews. The job hunt is not for the faint of heart, but it certainly helps to be applying to industries that you would love to work in.
3. Drop your ego
If you've just been laid off from a management or leadership role, it makes sense that you would be seeking out new jobs that are at a similar seniority level. But it's important to remember to not get too caught up with the role, title or salary bracket (so long as you can sustain yourself and live off of it). When applying for new roles, you should show that you are enthusiastic, eager for a new challenge and adaptable. Entitlement and ego don't look great in interviews, and you might just have to be open to stepping down a rung on the ladder before climbing back up. After all, it's totally normal for career progression to not follow a linear path.
Not only this, but taking a less senior role at a fast-growing company is a quicker route to reaching your professional goals. The first step is getting your foot in the door and earning a seat at the table. Then you have the perfect opportunity to show what you're capable of, excel at your first role and quickly rise through the ranks.
4. Find your rocket ship
When you've experienced the disappointment of being laid off from a business that's struggling to sustain itself, start looking for the companies that are growing. Whether it is a company that is expanding locations, has recently announced a new funding round or shows promise as a startup, you can find goldmines of opportunities if you look in the right places.
It's also a chance to scale internally and be an instrumental part of growth. One of my favorite quotes is the advice that Google CEO Eric Schmidt gave to (now former) Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg: "Don't be an idiot. Get on a rocket ship. When companies are growing quickly and they are having a lot of impact, careers take care of themselves. If you're offered a seat on a rocket ship, don't ask what seat. Just get on."
While we can't always control what happens to us, we can control the way we react. In the moment, getting laid off can feel like the worst thing that's ever happened to you professionally. But if you can take a few steps back, look at the bigger picture and reframe your thinking, you might find that it's actually the start of a brand new opportunity.
5. Search in the right places
When you start searching for your next role, try to think outside the box from your standard job listing sites. Several venture capital websites host all of their portfolio companies' current openings, which is a great way to find businesses that are on the rise. It's a good place to start, because this avenue into the job funnel is preferable to employers, since it will come from the financial backers of the company. It's a win-win for all parties.
You should also look within your network — go on LinkedIn or any other professional platforms you operate on. Start reigniting old friendships, and reach out to former colleagues. You can even get back in touch with your Alma Mater. These are the places where successful businesspeople turn to in order to donate, look for talent and grow their network.
There are also professional clubs where you might choose to expand your skills, like a coding or web development group. People within these circles often have good connections to opportunities, and you might just be the right person when something comes up. Referrals and recommendations are always preferred over cold applications, so exhaust your options to mine out the best opportunities. You might be shocked at just how successful these very simple methods can be.