The recent Target cuts have called attention to how challenging layoffs can be. Whether laid off from Target or another job, anyone who has experienced this knows the unique type of loss and upheaval it creates.
First of all, I want to express my concern to people who have been laid off – and to those whose lives are being impacted by it. I am sorry. I know this can be painful and feel out of your control.
I want to assure you: there is life after a layoff! You may feel this in glimmers now, or not feel it for a while. But you will get to the other side. You will find yourself again, and I wish you the best through this transition.
In this post
After the Target layoffs, I shared my insight as a career, life and executive coach with KARE11 TV and also in a StarTribune video segment. In addition, I was the guest advisor on an online chat hosted by the StarTribune for individuals affected by job loss or with other career questions. There are four elements to this post:
- Watch the KARE11 TV interview with Diana Pearce
- Watch the Video Interview with the StarTribune.
- Read the Transcript from the StarTribune Online Chat on Job Loss and other career topics.
- Read the Blog Post below on What to do following a layoff: 15 tips.
What to do following a layoff: 15 tips
In this post, I outline steps one can take following a layoff. The suggestions below are designed to complement rather than duplicate the services typically provided by outplacement. They are less about the specifics of finding your next job (such as how to write a resume) and more about:
- Taking care of yourself during this very specific transition so you have the energy and resources to move in the directions you want to go, and
- Specific actions you can take now that will lay the groundwork for the job/career search ahead.
Importantly, these two approaches enhance each other. When you have more energy, you can be more effective in tackling the steps of the job / career search transition. As you begin to tackle these steps, they give you more energy and confidence. It’s a continuous and ongoing process, and the two will carry you forward.
Taking care of yourself to preserve energy and confidence:
1. Be kind and gentle to yourself.
You have suffered a major loss. You may be feeling a torrent of emotions. Be open to them. (This doesn’t necessarily mean acting or acting out on them! You may be angry but don’t go kicking the dog!) But if you are feeling sad, let it come – and tell yourself: it’s okay to feel sad. I want to be consoled. Or if you are feeling scared, let it come – and tell yourself: of course it’s scary. All of a sudden my life is very much up in the air. But I am a good person and I am not alone and eventually things will come into place for me.
2. Remind yourself that YOU are NOT your job.
Many people feel closely identified to their work. Then when their job ends, they feel their identity is gone as well. This is NOT the case! You are still the same unique, wonderful person that you were just a few days ago when you were employed. Remember this. Maybe even write it down and stick it on a mirror where you’ll see it.
3. Know that people experience this loss differently
Don’t compare yourself to others, because you will go through this loss in your own unique way. Getting support from others who have been through a layoff might be helpful for you, or might feel awkward, or might feel both. If it’s helpful to talk to others, then seek them out. Otherwise, don’t – or wait a while and then decide if you want to give it a try.
4. Remember that it takes time to heal.
There is no magic deadline when this loss doesn’t hurt anymore. Don’t tell yourself: it’s been 2 weeks – I should be over it by now. Denying that you’re still hurting won’t move you forward – in fact, it is more likely to hold you back and keep you stuck. Working through the grief of job loss can take time. Let yourself feel what you’re feeling. That’s the best way to move through the loss.
5. Be prepared that people may not know how to be around you.
Some may be wonderful. Some people may avoid you. Some people may offer unsolicited advice that makes you feel worse rather than better. What’s really hard is that people may be trying, but what they do or say may not be useful, so it leaves you feeling awkward. What can be really helpful is to start thinking about what you want from people and what you don’t want. That way, you can speak up and gently request what you need. Or remind yourself that it’s okay to feel hurt or angry or isolated when people don’t respond as you would have liked. And – for those wonderful people who are there for you, be sure to let them know you appreciate them.
6. Strive for a combination of “being” and “doing.”
There are Be-ers and Do-ers. Be-ers are good at being introspective and examining a situation from many angles. Do-ers are good at moving forward and getting things done. What’s important to remember is: Be-ers sometimes need to be reminded to Do, or they will get stuck. And Do-ers need to take time to Be – so they can be strategic and planful about what they are doing, and so their actions aren’t just a reason to keep busy, but are helping them move where they want to go. Which “do” you tend to “be”? Keep this in mind throughout your transition so that you are being true to yourself, as well as acting in your own best interest.
7. Know that it may take a while for your body to catch up.
You may wake up in the middle of the night thinking about the detail of a project you need to do, only to realize that that’s not the case any more. That’s okay – be gentle with yourself.
8. Take action if you find yourself feeling isolated.
Monday mornings (or whenever you reported to work) can feel particularly hard. It might be helpful to figure out what you need around this. It could be designing a “schedule” for yourself, or making plans to go to a coffee shop or plan an activity. Coming up with some ideas and making a list can be really helpful, so when you start feeling isolated, you can figure out what works for you and get out there and take care of yourself.
9. Get out in the sunshine and move.
After a long winter, the light is welcome and can be key to lifting dark moods. Exercise is important, too. A walk or run or bike ride around the lake or your neighborhood can be a gift to yourself.
10. Be proactive about finances.
If you are concerned about financial security, it may be helpful to talk to a financial planner to find out answers to your specific questions. You may be wondering: “How long can I go before I start earning an income again?” Or – “How much of a pay cut can I take in order to find a job that I like but still maintain the quality of living I want?” Just having a professional work through the numbers with you can help you get concrete answers to help you with the free-floating financial anxiety you may be experiencing.
11. Do things that make you feel useful and productive.
Maybe it’s a home project or a book you’ve been meaning to read. Or it could be offering a favor to someone – maybe driving a neighbor to a doctor appointment. It doesn’t matter what it is. But it will make you feel useful and connected.
12. Pay attention if you are ruminating or feeling depressed.
You may want to contact a therapist or a career / life coach who can help you deal with the feelings you are having. It can be very helpful to talk to someone one-on-one who has experience dealing with people in similar situations to yours, but someone who will view you as an individual and see to it that you get the specific support you need.
Specific actions for laying the groundwork ahead:
13. Make a list of people you’ve known over the years that you have a good relationship with.
They can be people you really like and they like you, people who know the type of work you are capable of doing, or they know you’re a good person, or they make you feel good. Don’t worry about what you’ll do with this list just yet. Just make it. If you think of someone but aren’t sure whether to put their name down, put it down!
At this point you may not do anything with the list except look at it and say: wow, these are all people who know me as the person I am. It will feel good to look at this list. And down the road, you may realize that some of these are people you will want to contact to help make a connection for you, or you may just want to get together with them because they make you smile.
14. Make a list of things you have done that make you proud.
These could be professional projects, or projects you did in school, or as a volunteer, or even back in your childhood. As you start doing this, you will have reminders of who you are. This is still you! And the strengths that allowed you to accomplish these projects will help you get through this transition, and possibly be part of your next job or career as well.
15. Ask yourself what you want next in your career.
This is an important time to ask yourself what’s next. Do you want to continue doing the same work you were doing at the time you were laid off? Do you want to explore something similar, or try out something completely different? There may be a part of you that would like to try something new as a long-term goal, but for the short-term you will look for work in your current area. In any case, this is a good time to list what worked well for you in your past job and what you would have liked to be different. This will help clarify what you will seek in your next opportunity.
Feeling like you need more?
If you haven’t yet, please watch the KARE11 TV interview, StarTribune Video Interview, and read the StarTribune’s Online Chat Transcript with individuals seeking career input. And, if you feel that working with me could be of benefit, please contact me.
Wishing any of you who have been impacted by a layoff as smooth a transition as possible.