Life After Layoff

by Robert Musterer   Ulticareer  | Job search  | Advice  | Opportunity  | New perspective  | Career decision  | Job satisfaction  | Work tips  | Career advancement  | Entrepreneur  | 
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Have you been told you're about to be laid off? Well don't worry about it. I know that's easier said than done. Let's lay one thing to rest right now: it used to be that being laid off was viewed as a stigma, equivalent to being fired. But layoffs have become so prevalent through all industries that that stigma has dissolved. 

Now being laid off isn't necessarily a ball of fun, but it's not the end of the world. I like to tell people that yes, there is life after a layoff. If you are fortunate enough to receive a severance package as part of the layoff it greatly enhances your opportunities. The other thing that enhances your opportunities is having time between knowing when you're going to laid off and when you will actually be out of work. In this case having time is a blessing that can be leveraged to your advantage. Regardless, the most important piece of advice I share with people who are facing a layoff is to view it as an opportunity, a wake-up call to reassess your career and what you want to be doing next.  

I can tell you from first-hand experience that when you view it as an opportunity to start considering options that are available to you, you may quickly find that there are more options than you have the time to pursue. Then it becomes a matter of considering these various options and narrowing them down to the one or few that you have a strong interest in and the resources to pursue. 

Now those resources can include time to prepare, money to pursue them, it may also include how they can fit into your lifestyle and obligations. Even as I say that I cringe when I say ‘lifestyle’ because lifestyle is a choice. Don't assume that just because you've grown accustomed to a certain income level that you must maintain that. You may say “I have a mortgage to pay." Well do you? You could always consider selling the house and downsizing to something smaller. But I digress. What we want to consider is, if you know you are looking at being laid off, then start evaluating your options.  

You can look at options in terms of trying to find another job in the same career that you've been in. Now this may mean looking at different locations, different regions of the country, or it could mean considering related industries or even unrelated industries that also need the same skill set.  Next is to widen the scope by considering skills in a broader classification. For example, if you’ve been working on an assembly line building widgets, there are skills in terms of working on the assembly line, working with automated processes, working with various tools that could be applied to other areas other than widgets. 

Other options could include changing your career more dramatically. Often this requires acquiring experience. You could consider taking a step back down the career ladder or consider internships as a means to gain this experience. 

Next, we can broaden our scope beyond looking at working for somebody else to consider working for yourself. If you want to work for yourself there are numerous options from what is commonly referred to as the Gig economy, freelance work, consulting work, or you can create your own company. If you want to set up working for yourself, the opportunities are only limited by your interest, and let's face it a clear-headed assessment of probabilities of success.  

Maybe you want to start a food business, or become a writer, or a landscaper, carpenter, wood-worker, cabinetmaker, electrician, marketing consultant, you name it. Now some of these options may require obtaining additional training, perhaps certification or licensing, so all of that must be factored in.  

For example, perhaps you want to become an electrician, well electricians require training and getting licensed. If you don't have the freedom to spend time getting that training and licensing now, you may consider starting off as a general handyman, not as an electrician but at least in an area that doesn't require the investment of training and licensing but gets you into the field to start making connections. Those connections may lead to the appropriate circumstances to allow you to pursue your dream of becoming an electrician.  

Figuring out what you want to do next can be a challenge. A great way to start is by seriously thinking about your current job and what you like about it and what you don't like about it. While you're at it, may I recommend that you go to UltiCareer and describe what a day in the life of your current job is really like. This is a great way to focus your thinking and will provide a resource for others and while you're doing so you can then start exploring what others have contributed to UltiCareer and explore options based on your likes and dislikes. 

So, I hope this gives you a foundation of key concepts from which to consider you options. For example, let's say what you really like about the job is being able to know that your efforts are contributing to the safety of other people, but one of the things you find you dislike is having to work in an office, or perhaps you dislike having to deal with company politics. If so you may want to consider what it is about contributing to safety that you find interesting. Is it something intrinsic in safety itself? Is it perhaps something related to just the fact that you are helping other people in general? Do you want to have direct interactions with people? This example gives a flavor for how to build an approach to consider various options. Look at the aspects that you enjoy about a given type of job or career then ask questions as to why that is the case. Does it have to be exactly as described or can it be generalized to broaden your horizons and consider other options that would be equally appealing and rewarding, or perhaps even more rewarding. 

Similarly, we can take an approach with things you find you dislike about your current job. One of the things we want to do here is to scratch beneath the surface by considering whether these are items inherent in the occupation or are they related to individuals and personalities? Is it related to how you respond to different circumstances? Remember, we can't control other people but we can choose to control how we respond to different circumstances.  

Remember there is life after layoffs, and life is a journey – enjoy the adventure. 


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