Layoffs happen to you and to people you know. In this article, I’ll provide some perspectives that have helped me deal with it. It’s my hope that this will help you prepare for a layoff and helps you succeed should you find yourself in that situation.
To start with, I highly recommend listening to the wise words from retired Navy Seal Jocko Willink to help you face the challenges that layoffs present. The advice in this video will help you in all aspects of life.
After having been through a few layoffs, the best advice I can add includes:
Always have at least 3 to 6 months pay in a savings account.
I’m not talking about enough money to cover your bills, but 3 to 6 months of your actual pay amount. During the first layoff I experienced, it took nearly 3 months to find a job, and that was at just over 50% of my previous pay. Speaking about motivating factors, my then-wife had lost her job a month before me and it took her longer to find her next job.
This savings will pay your bills of course, but you’re going to incur new expenses while you look for your next job. New clothes, resume services, driving to interviews and networking meetings can all increase your living expenses.
Think of this as a reserve parachute. You make sure it’s there, so you’re not completely hosed when your main chute fails.
Saving that much money might seem unrealistic, but there is a way if you’re willing to put in the effort. “If you want to accumulate wealth, don’t buy things you can’t afford. Also, don’t buy things you can afford.” – Carol Roth
It’s easier to find a job when you have one so always keep your options open.
Although I don’t have statistics to back this up, it’s been my experience that it’s easier to get a new job while you’re already employed. After a few months of unemployment, it feels like companies no longer find you attractive. especially in the IT industry where skills can get outdated very quickly.
Don’t be too quick to pass up jobs after a layoff. Besides providing income, jobs that are out of your normal path can provide a wealth of knowledge and can help you reset your perspective.
I recommend reading “Who Moved My Cheese” to help you learn how to detect changes within your company and how to respond to those changes. I read a lot and listen to a lot of books as well and have them listed on my Reading List page.
Being in school or training after a layoff has a similar effect to already having a job when it comes to looking for the next one.
As mentioned above, IT skills can become outdated very quickly so it’s to your advantage to keep your skills current. Many employers hesitate to pay for training so don’t be afraid to pay for it yourself. Set aside a budget for this and also keep an eye out for many of the free or low-cost resources such as the Federal Virtual Training Environment (FedVTE), Udemy, Coursera.
Being in training also helps you maintain and establish your network and shows potential employers that you’re willing to do the hard work necessary for them to take a chance on you.
Layoffs can be embarrassing, stressful and even depressing.
Remember that layoffs only happen because someone upstairs messed up.
After my first layoff, I questioned myself over what I missed or what I did wrong and how I could have failed so miserably. It turns out the company was a sinking ship that was suffering from corrupt executive leadership. It could easily have been that executives failed to be competitive, properly respond to regulatory changes, or identify changing market trends. Either way, it’s your responsibility to protect yourself and your family even against situations that are out of your control.
After my second layoff, I was so embarrassed that I couldn’t face my family. I sought refuge in a bookstore until the evening so I could go home at my normal time thinking I could put off delivering the bad news until the next morning. It doesn’t work. Anyone close to you can smell it a mile away, and sometimes complete strangers can as well. The bottom line is that there is no time to waste, and no benefit in doing so. Get up, dust yourself off and get back to business.
Helping others is always a good thing to do, but it can also end up helping you.
Don’t be afraid to volunteer or donate.
Helping others is a proven way to help keep your spirits up and it also helps keep your ego in check. Several months ago, my girlfriend and I donated enough toothpaste and deodorant to serve 160 people to San Antonio Threads, a non-profit that helps at-risk teens who are in foster care or have aged out of foster care, homeless teens and other teens who need help. People need help with all sorts of thing. Anything you can do to help make someone’s life better makes a better world.