You’ve Just Been Laid Off – Now What?

It is only 10 AM and you are already driving back home because your boss called you into her office for an impromptu meeting then told you that today is your last day.  When you first walked into your boss’ office you assumed she wanted an update on the project you had been working on for the past month and you were excited that you would finally be able to tell her it is complete.  But, before you could get those words out of your mouth, she said those awful words. You are being laid off.  The news hit you like a ton of bricks and rendered you speechless.  It took you a moment to process exactly what she just said.  You didn’t know what to say next.

So many questions were running through your head but none seemed appropriate for that moment.  Luckily your boss picked up the slack.  She immediately began showing you some papers inside a light-colored folder and indicated all the areas you needed to sign.  Her words sounded like gibberish to you at that moment so you just nodded your head.  She finally acknowledged your apparent state of mind and decided to allow you to take the paperwork back to your desk to review them in peace.  Then she said, in a very soft voice, that you should pack your pictures and plants so George from the security office can escort you out of the building.  She said you can leave your keys and badge on your desk or give them to the Receptionist.

Your walk back down the hallway to your desk seemed to take much longer than usual.  It felt like everyone was staring at you as if you were an alien.  You try to speed up your pace but for some reason your desk still looked very far away.  Once you got there you wondered how you could pack your belongings without your coworkers noticing, because you did not want them to start asking you questions.  Then you wondered if they already knew.  Are you the only one being laid off?  Was it because you came to work 10 minutes late one day last week? Is it because you told Susie that she should could no longer sit at your desk to eat her lunch? Finally, you snapped out of your fog and put your family pictures into a very small box.  Kara stopped at your desk and asked why you were packing but you were not ready to talk about it.  George, from security finally arrived at your desk so you handed him your box and quickly walked to the elevator.

Now you are back in your car driving home even though you just spent over an hour driving to work in traffic.  Why didn’t your boss have the decency to tell you this bad news yesterday afternoon instead of letting you jump out of the bed at 6 AM, take a 5-minute shower, grab 8 crackers out of your cabinet and rush down the highway to ensure you made it to work on time only to find out that you were being fired?

Although this situation can be stressful for the most “zen” person, don’t let the weight of the moment drag you down for long.  It is natural to be concerned, scared, angry and offended in this type of situation.  So, give yourself 24 hours to lick your wounds.  But after that time has elapsed it will be time to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back to work.

Don’t sleep until 11 AM just because you don’t have a job.  You need to keep your natural alarm clock conditioned to waking up early because soon you will find another great job and you don’t want to ever be late.  Mornings are the best time to reconnect with people you may have interviewed with recently, to check the status of your application.  Mornings are often when recruiters call candidates to schedule interviews and as much as they try to deny it, they will judge you a little bit harder if you sound like you are still in the bed when they call you.

Don’t neglect your personal hygiene rituals because you are always marketing yourself. You could meet a potential hiring manager or someone who is willing to refer you to their company while shopping at the grocery store or running errands.

Start researching the job market in your area.  Research your field and connect to other professionals at companies where you would like to work.  Attend networking events and let them know you are looking for a new career opportunity.

Make a job out of finding a job.

(Contact me for more career tips.)

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