If you’re reading these lines, you may have recently been laid off from your job. Or maybe, depending on your country and its laws, you’re waiting to know if you’re being laid off.
Well, I’ve been there and I’ve survived it, so, based on my experience, here are a few suggestions:
- Grieve Losing you job is not a fun thing, whether it’s a surprise or something you half-expected. Take a moment to acknowledge it. Make a clean break. Spend a few days with your loved ones, or backpacking through the forest, or doing anything else that will leave you refreshed. You’ll need it.
- Don’t do anything stupid Yeah, it’s tempting to start shitposting about your former job, or about that colleague or that leader or that strategy or that political stance, because you feel that they deserve it. Don’t. You don’t owe anything to that part of your life anymore, but you are going to use it to bounce back. Burning bridges is a very good way to drive away possible future employers and/or attract legal consequences upon you. Even doing it anonymously attracts bad light on the company where you worked, which in the short term decreases the value of your own experience at that company. Sabotage, theft or other similar bad ideas can land you in jail, so forget about them.
- Take care of yourself After grieving, you want to bounce back. Bouncing back takes lots of time and energy. You’ll have to deal with your own sorrow, with silence or rejections by potential employeers, with the pity of some people close to you, and with the general societal pressure that equates “jobless” to “worthless”. To deal with this you’ll need to take care of yourself. For me, this means my loved ones, physical activity, greenery (preparing for job interviews in the middle of the forest can actually be fun!), improv and boardgames. Pick your own! Whatever can stave off the risk of depression.
- Check your budget You don’t know how much time your job search will take. Drop your streaming movie subscription, think of replacing these expensive vacations with something cheaper, etc.
- Prepare your CV To get a job, you need an up-to-date CV. Your former employer may offer CV-writing training sessions. Regardless, organize cross-reading of CVs with other layoff survivors and/or former colleagues and see how you can improve the presentation of each other’s CV. Ideally, include in the loop someone who has been in a hiring position because they’ll tell you which parts of your CV to prioritize. Do this also to your LinkedIn Profile, your StackOverflow Career, etc. Take the opportunity to exchange recommendations on LinkedIn & co.
- Be visible If you have any professional online presence, it’s time to update it. If you don’t, it’s time to get started. There are countless solutions that will cost you no money. Consider it part of your CV. This can be a blog, LinkedIn, an online portofolio, github, or anywhere else where you can display you skills and/or (non-confidential) details of your work. If you can showcase some of your work without breaking an NDA, go for it. If you can’t, write something about stuff that you have learnt during this project. Maybe you have acquired a skill. Maybe you discovered a cool technique. Regardless, you’re your own product and this is one of your features, so make it look good! As with CVs, organize cross-readings.
- Letters Many job applications require you to write a cover letter. Writing a cover letter is actually pretty simple, once you know what is expected of you – and that is the tricky part. I’m not going to summarize it in this blog entry so be sure to look it up on the web. Again, don’t hesitate to cross-read your cover letters, preferably with at least one person in the loop who has been in a hiring position. Many job applications also require two recommendation letters, so take the opportunity to find out who among your fellow survivors and/or former colleagues still in place can write a recommendation letter for you.
- Reach out You know people who know people. Or you have a LinkedIn account or any other kind of online presence. Use it to clearly display that you’re looking for a job. If you have an ideal job description, be clear about it, this will save everybody time and efforts. Likewise, join jobsearch sites such as Hired, Monster Jobs, Talent, … Likewise, visit the websites of companies you like and look at their Career subsites. With any luck, and if you are in a position/city where job market is good, all of this should land you a number of interviews. Don’t forget that you can work remotely. Also, determine whether you can afford to move to another city for a job if you don’t find one where you live.
- Brush up your interview skills Chances are that you haven’t been interviewed for many years. You’ll need to get back into it. Just as you have organized CV cross-readings, organize cross-interviews with other layoff survivors and/or former colleagues. This will let you see the interview from both sides, which is a precious piece of knowledge. Also, if you’ve been lucky, you’ll start getting actual interviews. At first, don’t hesitate to accept interviews even for jobs that you don’t care about. This is free training. Later, if you are lucky enough to land many interviews, you’ll want to drop these uninteresting interviews as they’ll just tire you some more. During an interview, never shittalk your previous job. It will put you in a bad light much more than your employer.
- Keep learning Is there something you’ve been meaning to learn but have postponed because you didn’t have time? Well, on the upside, now you do have time. Ideally, it’s a skill or project that you can add to your résumé – maybe a new foreign language or programming language? But it doesn’t have to be. Yes, it’s also the right time to get started with Taichi or cooking or building bicycles or the guitar. If it gets your spirits up and lets you finish the day knowing that you have accomplished something, it’s not wasted time or efforts.
- Know your rights This is heavily dependent of your country and your contract and you may need professional help for this. In some countries, trade unions and/or insurances provide free legal help to you help you find out your rights. Knowing your rights is important for many reasons beyond litigation. For instance, depending on your contract and the law in your country, your employer or the state may have a legal obligation to pay for your training or your commuting bills or your health bills while you’re looking for a job.