Make no mistake: layoffs suck. As a tech worker in the early ’00s, I was laid off, downsized, right-sized, made redundant, reorganized, and otherwise asked to leave more jobs than I care to count. The first few times, I panicked. But then I found a better way forward. No matter what side of a layoff you’re on, there are steps you can take right now to help yourself and others pull through. (See also: Lead at Any Level LIVE! video on YouTube.)
My First Layoff
The first time I got laid off, I was just a couple years out of college. I didn’t have a robust network or any idea what my marketable skills were. I was just getting used to this idea of being a “grown-up.” My new husband and I had just bought a new house. I had just bought a new car to make my commute more palatable. Did I mention I was also six months pregnant?
I panicked. What should I put on my resume? How should I explain why I was looking for a job? Who would hire me with my visible “baby bump”? How would I pay my bills if I didn’t get a job right away? What about insurance coverage for my pregnancy? Even thinking about it now, I can feel my heart rate increase. Whew!
The good news is that I did eventually find another job, after just a few weeks of collecting unemployment. We didn’t lose our house or our car. While I didn’t have paid maternity leave, I did manage to maintain insurance coverage. I survived.
The Last Time I Panicked
For a few years, each time I found myself in a similar situation, my reaction was similar: What on earth will I do? How will I survive? and so on. But then something changed. I realized (by listening to the perspectives of others) that I could make different choices. I began to ask different questions, set different goals, and think about the challenge as an opportunity to learn and level up. As a result, my career trajectory shifted for the better.
If You’ve Been Laid Off
About 200,000 tech workers have been laid off in the last few months. If you’re one of them, I invite you to download this free Moving from Panic to Purpose guide. It outlines the exact steps I followed to forever change how I responded to these events. You don’t have to give me your email address or anything else. It’s my gift to you, with the hopes that you will land on a higher plane than the one you just left.
If You’re a Layoff Survivor
If you still have a job, but you’ve lost colleagues to a reduction in force, here are five things you can do right now to help:
- Provide an honest and generous LinkedIn recommendation for anyone you know who has been severed from their company.
- Repost open jobs from people in your network. LinkedIn makes this easy for you by putting job posting announcements in your “Notifications” tab. (More here…)
- Introduce your former colleagues to a recruiter you trust. (More here…)
- Connect your former colleague with a hiring manager, whether the open role is full-time, part-time, contractual, or freelance. Chances are, you can make at least one meaningful connection right now. (More here…)
- If you have a former colleague who will be investing their severance payout into a new business venture, find out how you can purchase or promote their goods and services. (More here…)
And, no matter what’s next for you, be sure you’re building a strong, diverse, and inclusive CHAMP network so you and your colleagues have a better chance of landing on your feet when everything shifts again!