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Laid off? Here are 6 things to do next!

Photograph: Christin Hume/Unsplash

The first thing to remember is that there's nothing wrong in being ashamed to announce it.

The job market is, without a doubt, in terrible shape right now. The drop in the number of your LinkedIn job notifications should be a good indicator of that. While there are certain industries that are indeed hiring right now, for most part, businesses are either freezing all new recruitments or, worse, laying off parts of their existing workforce. If you’ve found yourself among those who’ve been impacted by it, it may be a good time for you to pause and plan your strategy before you embark on your job hunt again. And this is how you start:

1. Acknowledge how you feel

Being laid off can affect your self-esteem in ways you can never imagine. Before you start your job hunt, it is important for you to acknowledge how losing your job has made you feel. It may seem like an unnecessary expense, especially in the light of the fact that you’ve lost your primary source of income, but do consider seeing a therapist. If you cannot afford one, several offer their services for free. Either way, seeing a therapist is always very helpful. Once you acknowledge how the job loss has made you feel, you can move on to actually looking for a job.

2. Rework your résumé

While it helps to keep updating your résumé every six months or so, this is also as good a time as any other to work on it and refresh it. Spend a good few days on your résumé, send out drafts of it to the people you can rely on to give you constructive feedback. The idea is to also craft your résumé in a manner that highlights the skills and experience you have for the job you want. It will help if you are able to eloquently explain the pause in your career.

3. Consider changing your industry

Almost all industries right now have taken a hit. But that’s also the most important thing to remember: almost all. If you’d been working in industries such as aviation, hospitality, or media and publishing, there may be some wisdom in considering changing your industry altogether. If you’ve wondered what industries have been flourishing in these distressing times, you simply need to look at your own consumption patterns and you’ll know sectors such as Digital Learning, Pharma, FMCG, and public health among several others have been seeing some positive movements if not a lot. Steer your job search towards those areas.

4. Look to upskill or reskill

This holds especially true for people in the mid-management, senior management levels, and above. Whether we like it or not, we tend to go easy on ourselves as we grow older. Losing a job tends to remind us just how dispensable we are if we don’t keep updating our skill sets. Thankfully we are living in the golden age of e-learning, which means almost all the skills that we need to learn are available at our fingertips. The only thing we need is the genuine desire to learn them.

5. Don’t be indiscriminate about announcing your job loss

Most people tend to put up a generic social media update – on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and occasionally even Instagram Stories – about the fact that they’ve lost their job. While this indiscriminate sharing of the news may be ok when you’re a public figure and want to get ahead of the news cycle, it isn’t always helpful for regular Janes and Joes like us. For most part, these updates garner a lot of likes, hearts, sad face emojis and messages of sympathy, how often do these online shows of support really translate into real help? Instead, consider announcing your news strategically.

Draw up a list of your contacts who may be able to offer real support and then reach out to them specifically. Tailor your pitch for each of these individuals and speak with them or write to them. It’s also important how you pitch yourself to your contacts; you shouldn’t come across as being bitter about your layoff.

6. Consider how you are going to narrate your story

When you finally find yourself across the Zoom screen with your employer, you should be in full control of your narrative. Consider about how you will address your layoff by presenting a thoughtful response that will also highlight your strengths. If you’ve been laid off because of the downsizing caused by the pandemic, it is ok to state the facts in a straightforward manner. More often than not, a simple line to the effect of ‘the organisation underwent a restructuring and my role was impacted’ should do the job. Again, and we cannot stress on this enough, avoid coming across as being bitter about your previous employer. It reflects poorly on you.