Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

John Grohol: 7 Ways to Cope with a Layoff

John Grohol, over at, has some good tips for the recently laid off. He’s right in saying that losing your job feels like having the wind knocked out of you. I think this is especially true for men, since work is so much a part of their identity. Eric and I are adjusting to our new roles every day and the transition has come with a stress of its own. John’s tips are helpful in that regard. I give you his first three, then you have to visit him to get the others. John writes:
When the economy — or a company’s business — goes south, the quickest way a company can chop its costs is by laying off its employees. It’s never popular and often companies will try other cost-cutting measures long before they have to cut workers, but if you’re among those who get the pink slip, you don’t really care. You just lost your job.
For many, being laid off is something that will be unexpected and shocking. Unless you work in a seasonal industry where layoffs occur with annual regularity, a layoff is akin to having the wind knocked out of you. You become a powerless pawn in a company’s efforts to cut costs. And while it’s never about a single employee, it doesn’t make it feel any less personal.
A layoff is out of your control, but how you react to it is not.
1. Keep Your Emotions in Check
One of the first things you should do is give yourself some time with the impact of being laid off. If unexpected, you will likely feel more upset, shocked and disappointed than if you had some idea layoffs were coming. Even when an employee knows layoffs are in the works for the company, you may not expect that your own head could be on the chopping block.
The workplace is not a good place to express this disappointment and upset, however. Such reactions might be mistaken or misunderstood. It’s also best not to burn bridges, no matter how bitter or upset you may feel in the moment. You may need references from your manager or supervisor, and want to keep in touch with coworkers you’re close to. Ask for personal email addresses and act calmly, no matter how you may feel inside.
If you need to vent, do so to close friends (or your family, or your therapist) outside of work. Don’t feel bad if you feel confused and uncertain about your future. Take your time and don’t try to rush into feeling “okay” with the layoff.


2. Get the Information
Sometimes in our shock and upset at the news of a layoff, we forget to listen or to get all the information we need. Is there a severance package or a benefits package I get to leave with? What about my family’s health insurance? Will the company help me with finding new work or offer any kind of resume service? What about job references? Do I have to return the company laptop that I use at home?
If you can’t handle getting the information in the moment or feel overwhelmed, not to worry. Employers generally provide the information in a letter form as well, and your HR personnel can answer any followup questions you may have via email or phone. The key is to remember that the more details you have, the easier it’ll be to answer others (e.g., your significant other) and make the tough decisions that are yet to come.
If your employer offers you nothing, you may be in line at the unemployment office to look into unemployment benefits paid for by the government. Sadly, these are going to be a lot less than what you were making, but it’s better than nothing. And it may help make ends meet until you can find another job. While most hard-working people hate the idea of accepting “charity,” sometimes we simply have no other choice. And unemployment benefits aren’t really “charity” anyway — they’re a benefit each state provides by taxing employers, and are regulated in part by federal law. Your benefits will be determined by your hours worked and earnings over the five calendar quarters preceding your layoff. In other words — you earned the benefits you’re now receiving while you were working.
3. Regroup and Reframe
Don’t let your disappointment and upset turn into a new pessimistic outlook on your life or career, or into a full-blown depressive episode.
Therapists have a technique they call “reframing.” It basically means taking a negative situation, thought or feeling and looking at it from a different perspective for some positive aspects. Being laid off is a time to regroup in your life and especially in your career. This is a time to reassess your career path and make sure you’re still doing something you have an interest in doing. Even in a bad economy, you need to consider your own longer-term happiness.
Which is not to say there may not be much you can do about it right now. But it may help you decide between two job opportunities in the future, one that keeps you on your current path, or another that may open up a different set of opportunities for you. A layoff may be just the ticket to get you out of the dead-end job you would’ve stayed in forever had it not occurred.
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  • Evelyn Jacobs

    Believe in the God almighty that he has a better life for at no matter what age. We can so all things through christ that strenghten us. Regroup with jesus on your side and him direct your path. I have been there and now I o my way to owning my own business with Gods help and strenght.

  • Bruce

    I’m a truck driver with 30+ years experience and a clean record. In Nov 08 I was laid off from my job. I thought “No big deal” Im an experienced driver and I’ve never had trouble finding work, after all trucks deliver EVERYTHING. Well here I am 3 months later and no prospects. I get max unemployment every month but that’s just barely getting me by.
    I’m 54 and have worked since I was 16. Thought about changing careers but don’t know how to do it and then I think, at my age what would my job prospects look like starting out in a new career, no experience, who’d hire me.
    I’m open for suggestions caused I’m getting frustrated.

  • Maria Brady

    My husband is 61 and was a GM for a car dealship and was laid off,this happen in September 08 and hasn’t been able to find anything. He’s good at what he did, he’s good with numbers, contracts etc. yet there is nothing out there for him. Does anyone have any suggestions. He is getting very frustrated being at home, he’s not use to this at all. He’s a hard working man. Thank God I’m working and I pray that soon he will find a good job. Help! Any suggestions?

  • C.

    For starters you can go to your local job and family service to see if there is a program to help steer you into making progress towards changing your career by helping you to think about your choices. Think about all the skills you have in every day life…write them down. Think about all the skills you have towards your last job…write them down. When you talk to one of the counselors at either your local college or job and family service present those lists to them. Ask them to help you find your passion in work through career assessments and job tips. You will become excited to know that you have many skills that can be used to fulfill other dreams you have not thought about. Get happy…you are about to discover you! And remember to pray, pray, pray!
    Your husband can get excited also, by going to the local colleges and/or university career centers to help him get a resume’ together. They can also give him career assessments to determine what his strengths and weaknesses are to help him proceed in changing directions. Encourage your husband to also look at the local job and family centers for preparation in job hunting and tips. Ask people for referrals. Ask them to call him regarding his skills. Most times loved ones cannot coach another as someone else can. We are too close to the matter. Maybe your husband has a friend who could ask him to check into other avenues regarding his work. Options are available. And pray that God will send the right people into your lives for good and appropriate work for your husband, that makes him happy. God Bless!

  • Julie

    Bruce and Maria,
    Once you have a short description of the things you are good at, start telling everyone that you are looking for work. It is really true that most jobs are found through networking. But networking can happen in all sorts of ways. My daughter once found a job when she stopped to chat with a gentleman who was emptying parking meters. She mentioned she was looking for work, and he knew of an opening. So spread the word!

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