Layoff: with all its associations of uncertainty and anxiety, it’s a word that employees dread and, in the wake of the global coronavirus outbreak, a reality that many are facing.
While you may think your chances of finding new employment immediately are slim, there are steps you can take now to help you move forward. Our experts share their advice on getting your career back on track.
Being laid off can trigger intense emotions which can lead to hasty actions that you may later regret. Being calm, methodical and logical will help you to focus on proactively moving forward. “Layoffs are a business decision, so it’s essential that you don’t take it personally,” advises Alfonso Tiscareno, Director at Robert Walters San Francisco. In these increasingly uncertain times, company restructuring may be essential to a business’s survival and this can inevitably lead to layoffs, especially at more senior levels.
“Don’t take their decision to let you go as a reflection of your ability or what you’ve brought to the role,” Alfonso says. “It’s simply a business decision and understanding this will help you move on more effectively.”
“As soon as you become aware that a layoff is imminent, start organizing yourself as quickly as possible,” suggests Nick Louca, Director at Robert Walters New York. You should contact your line manager and request written references that you can share with potential future employers, he says.
You also need to make sure you sort out your payslips and other employment documentation. “That paperwork can be a lot more difficult to acquire once you’ve left a company, so try and get as much sorted as possible before you leave.”
“One of the most important things to remember if you’re laid off is not to panic – as this could see you make the wrong decision for you and your career,” Alfonso advises.
“The knee-jerk reaction will be to think you need to find something new tomorrow, but often the time that a layoff can give offers an opportunity for you to think about what’s the best next step for you and your career,” he says.
“A layoff is difficult, but it can also be an opportunity to make positive changes,” says Alfonso. Taking the time to reassess your career and work-life balance can help you to identify what you want from your next role and employer. For example, you may want more flexibility than you were previously offered or a shorter commute.
Additionally, this time off can provide the impetus you need to make the bold changes you’ve been dreaming of, such as a career change or returning to full-time education.
“Despite the stress and anxiety that being laid off ultimately brings, it’s essential you take the positives and look at ways to make your new circumstances work for you,” advises Nick.
“One of the fears many people share regarding layoffs at this time is that they’ll quickly lose contact with their colleagues, peers, and wider industry networks – but this doesn’t have to happen,” says Alfonso.
These days, there are plenty of virtual ways to network and connect with those in your industry – including potential employers, he notes. “Some employers will put you in touch with professional networks, but do make sure to explore your personal, social media, and professional networks to keep yourself connected too.”
“Once you’ve decided on the right move for you, invest energy in bringing your CV and social media profiles up-to-date, highlighting all relevant skills and experience,” says Nick.
Many people who have been in the same senior role for some time are unlikely to have updated their CV, yet their most recent experience and expertise may be their most valuable. Don’t be evasive about your situation either: “In terms of your layoff, it’s always better to be up-front and honest with hiring managers.”
“Being back on the job market can be a daunting prospect, especially in these uncertain times, but connecting with a recruiter can make this process a lot more manageable,” suggests Nick.
Not only will a recruiter provide much-needed advice when it comes to your CV and interview technique, they’ll also give you invaluable market insight and introductions. “Recruiters can provide access to jobs that aren’t being advertised, such as commercially sensitive roles – access you wouldn’t otherwise be able to get.”
“When it comes to your job search, it’s important to remember that you might not be offered your dream role straight away, particularly in the current market – so be flexible with your expectations,” Alfonso says.
On the other hand, the search might well introduce you to roles you hadn’t previously considered, so prepare to be open-minded and assess every role on its merits.
“When it comes to the interviews themselves, approach them positively, focusing on what you can bring to the role and not dwelling on the redundancy and your former employers,” he says.
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