How to Discuss a Layoff and Take the Next Best Steps
Being laid off is always difficult, but one of the hardest parts can be sharing the news.
Published February 21, 2023
The recent spate of layoffs impacting nearly every sector, Technology and Finance especially, means thousands of workers are now left with the challenging task of confronting friends and loved ones with the news. Telling a spouse or partner about a layoff can be difficult and emotional, and telling friends or professional contacts can feel awkward. The key is to be honest and transparent with your partner and close loved ones, and confident, excited, and optimistic with others, and then quickly dive into your job search, according to one workplace authority.
“Being laid off is one of the most difficult things that can happen in a person’s lifetime. The uncertainty can feel overwhelming, and the exiting employees generally blame themselves and question their value.
The first instinct is usually to hide the news and feel ashamed, even when the decision was completely due to business conditions and had nothing to do with the workers’ talents. Regardless of the circumstances, the best first step is to accept that it happened, acknowledge your contributions, accomplishments, and learned experience, and move forward,” said Andy Challenger, workplace and labor expert and Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
Moving forward means, first, telling the closest ring of contacts not only about the layoff, but also what you want and what you can bring to your next role.
“Your next job typically does not come directly from your closest friends and relatives. Most new opportunities come from third-tier connections, for instance, your neighbor’s former colleague or your friends’ college roommates. This group however is typically the most empathetic and are perfect to practice telling your professional story. Plus, they spread the word to those who may have openings,” said Challenger.
Challenger offers the following tips on how to approach the conversation with your spouse or partner:
- Find the right time and place: Choose a time and place where you can talk without interruption. It is best to have the conversation when everyone is calm and relaxed.
- Be honest: Be truthful about the situation. Explain what happened and why you were laid off. Try to avoid placing blame on anyone, including yourself.
- Share your emotions: Losing a job can be a traumatic experience, and it is necessary to express your feelings to your closest confidants. Share your concerns, fears, and uncertainties about the future.
- Plan for the future: Discuss your plans for moving forward. Share your thoughts on how you will handle the loss of income, such as cutting back on expenses. Work together to come up with a plan and budget that works for everyone.
- Be open to support: Allow your closest confidants, spouse or partner, or family to support you emotionally and, if necessary, financially. Remember that you are in this together, and you will get through this together.
After you absorb the shock and discuss it with your closest loved ones, begin to list the people in your next tiers of relationships, those that you see sporadically, are connected by a shared organization or hobby, or former colleagues and other professional contacts. Craft personal messages to this tier, offering to meet for coffee or to get some professional advice.
“People instinctively want to help other people. Asking for advice on how to move forward is a great way to advertise that you’re looking for work, but avoids the potential awkward feelings of asking directly for a job,” said Challenger.
While it is important to let your entire network know you are looking for work, it is best not to post a public message to your social media contacts. Personal messages are much more impactful, and new employers will not be able to find it when they search candidates on the internet.
“Recruiters and hiring managers absolutely look up candidates on social media, and it is best practice to avoid having any posts that an employer could deem as inappropriate or exercising poor judgement. Leave your social posts for general commentary that shows off your interests or accomplishments, personal or professional,” said Challenger.
“A job loss is generally not a happy time, particularly at the beginning. However, hiring managers and professional contacts want to hire and recommend happy workers. Have close contacts you can confide in and vent to when things are tough, so that when you are talking to recruiters and prospects you can remain optimistic and confident,” he added.
Challenger Job Search Tips
Get involved with community service group. This is a great way to build your network as well as hone your professional skills.
Join a professional/trade association. These organizations can provide training and education opportunities and most hold several networking functions every year. The dues are worth their weight in gold if you meet a person at an event who can help you find a new job.
Audit and update your social media. Recruiters absolutely Google their candidates. How do you appear in search results? Having questionable or controversial content is sometimes just as bad as having nothing. Use your social media profiles to tell your professional story. Post articles or news items that are relevant to your role or industry. Talk about your or your colleagues’ professional accomplishments. Include posts on personal hobbies or causes, such as running marathons, links to fundraisers for your local library or disease research, or that great photo of your last vacation.
Have lunch with at least one new contact each week. Obviously, networking is an essential part of finding a job. Blindly adding new people to your LinkedIn contacts list is entirely ineffective. It is vital to meet with people on a regular basis. Lunch or even over coffee is an ideal setting, because it is more relaxed. Building these relationships may help you in your current position and they will definitely help when you enter the job market.
Rev up your skills. Continued education, whether a new certification or completing classes relevant to your role, is a huge plus to employers. Explore online courses and certificate programs to broaden your industry knowledge, increasing your marketability to a variety of employers.
Look beyond your industry. Just because you have been working in the same industry for a certain number of years, does not mean that you must stay in that industry. Your fundamental job function is the primary skill set you are selling to employers, not your knowledge of a specific industry. Your skills as an IT professional in the financial industry are certainly transferable to the health care industry, for example. Job seekers can greatly expand their chances of success by expanding the number of industries in which they seek opportunities.
Take responsibility for your search. No one is responsible for managing your own career except you. Stay focused and optimistic; you are embarking on a worthy venture, so give it your time and attention and best efforts.
Don’t take things too personally. Miscommunication happens, company needs and priorities change, initiatives are delayed, hiring managers leave. Things can fall apart, even though they often have nothing to do with you or your skills and performance.
Persistence and patience pay off. Be prepared for long waits, promised callbacks to be delayed, or even to never materialize. Keep in touch and follow up appropriately with people and organizations, until you either receive a response or admit that you never will.
Action bolsters mood. While you cannot control the responses you get, you can control your actions. Take pride in your efforts.
Remember the job search feels like being on a roller coaster. One week things could look gloomy and discouraging, while the next week, you get responses to applications, set up interviews, or even get offers. If a bad mood or discouragement gets you down, find ways to regain your confidence and equilibrium by talking to a friend, resting, exercising, spending time outdoors. If you find your mood is continuously low, consider getting some professional counseling or help from your doctor.
Work Shift: You’ve Lost Your Job. Now What? Five Ways to Cope
Despite ongoing strength in the US labor market, companies have announced more than 250,000 job cuts since the start of the fourth quarter of last year, according to data from Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. Though jarring, the headline numbers can never convey the devastating impact of losing your livelihood.Download Job Search Tips