Layoffs Suck. Here’s What to Do About It [623 words]

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:

  1. Provide an honest and generous LinkedIn recommendation for anyone you know who has been severed from their company.
  2. 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…)
  3. Introduce your former colleagues to a recruiter you trust. (More here…)
  4. 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…)
  5. 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!

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Amy C. Waninger Author Bio

Amy C. Waninger is the Founder & CEO of Lead at Any Level, where she improves employee engagement and retention for companies that promote from within. Amy offers assessments, advisory services, and training on essential skills for inclusive leaders. She is the author of eight books. Learn more at

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