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A Stiff Upper Lip to a Pink Slip: How to Rebound from Being Let Go

Let’s face it: getting laid off sucks. Even when it comes with a generous severance package, after investing a significant amount of our time into a job, getting let go can make you feel adrift, whether in regard to your career, finances, or your self-worth. 

You’re not alone: from 2009 to 2014, one in five U.S. workers were laid off and 22% were unable to find another job at the time of the study in 2014. In fact, in another study, 61% of people reviewed had lost a job for longer than a year by the time they were 70. The fact is, it happens. It doesn’t make you or mean you’re incompetent or without value. In fact, sometimes a layoff can be a blessing in disguise by giving you the permission to pursue your dream or even make you a more attractive candidate for future employment. So, with all that being said, let’s discuss some of the things you should keep in mind at this stage.

 Your Immediate Checklist

  1. Discuss your exit package: Depending on the terms of your lay off, your employer might offer you severance pay, extension on benefits and a job reference. Find out what those entail:they will help you determine your financial and career plan going forward.

  2. Check if you qualify for unemployment benefits: Depending on your jurisdiction and the terms of your lay off, you may qualify for unemployment in the interim. Apply for it and don’t fall victim to stigma about collecting unemployment as a sign of resignation – there are plenty of celebrated people who have thrived after periods of unemployment.

  3. Take stock of your mental state: A lay-off can be a significantly emotionally and mentally taxing time. Trying to be stoic and deal with it on your own can cause even more stress. Tap into your support systems: friends, family and coworkers can provide a sympathetic ear and help you plan out your next moves. You may also still be eligible for EAP services through the terms of your lay-off.

Bouncing Back: Some Ways to Jumpstart Your Next Move

If you’re ready to hit the ground running, brush up your resume and set up some job alerts – you can also reach out to your network to see if there are any other opportunities within your industry. Use websites like LinkedIn, Monster, Indeed and more to help with your job search.

Sometimes being laid off is a good time to consider upgrading your skills through additional education: a 2016 study in Canada found significant correlations between job layoffs and full-time enrolment in post-secondary education. In some jurisdictions, you might qualify for financial support for tuition and training fees if you’ve been laid off.

You don’t necessarily need to get back into the grind either: if you feel financially stable for the time being, sometimes a lay-off can be a good excuse for a long vacation, time spent with family and an opportunity to discover your true passion. At the end of the day, if you can return to the job hunt more mentally and emotionally rested, you’ll be all the better for it.

Stay Optimistic; Stay Hungry

Another reason to not feel hopeless: it’s a seller’s market. The US is currently experiencing a significant labor shortage, with month-over-month increases in open job. As to whether it’s a staying trend, there’s a big demographic shift underway: more-and-more of the Baby Boomer generation is choosing to retire, creating demand for replacement labour. It might even be enough to blunt a mild labor market downtown.

Final Thoughts

Getting laid off can come as a shock; particularly if it’s unexpected. Remember that you are not your job – you are a person with plenty to offer. If you find yourself with a pink slip, don’t fret – there is a world of opportunity ahead of you and tomorrow is another day. You’ll be back on your feet in no time.


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