You cannot go through a successful, aggressive career without at some point being caught up in a corporate layoff. 2014 was when the wheel finally landed on my position. Being in a remote office certainly can increase your risk, as often when senior management changes the pendulum may swing towards wanting to centralize control. I’ve been on the other side plenty of times where I have had to let very qualified, good resources go. It sucks, but is the cycle of employed life.
That is what happened to me. I was leading a large, distributed team, and in a matter of months by boss left the company, her boss left, and they replaced the president of our division – all of whom were at headquarters out of state.
If you stay abreast of movements like this, you can often anticipate major changes – even the loss of your position. I saw this coming and figured it was about 2-3 months out after the new leadership outlined their structure and began executing on widespread changes to programs.
Be Prepared – Layoffs are a Part of Corporate Life
So what happened when I was actually let go? I was prepared. I had already updated my resume, and had started networking fairly aggressively. The only fly in the ointment was that the layoff occurred towards the end of the year, which is a notoriously bad time to be looking for a new executive role. Most companies are in budgeting mode for the next year, existing budgets are exhausted, re-orgs are in progress, etc.
However, no need to panic – for several reasons:
- I had a financial cushion to tap into if needed [aka savings].
- I had received a generous several package that took me in to the new year
- I had confidence in my experience and skills – and knew it was a matter of timing and opportunity.
In my experience the first quarter of any year is the best time to find a new senior management position. However, that didn’t stop me from networking and applying to relevant positions during the 4Q. I had several interviews, but none of the positions or companies seemed like a great fit for where I wanted to go next.
Don’t get me wrong – panic can set in if you’re not careful. As you approach the end of your severance and start eyeing your savings, you can easily begin to sweat the everyday expenses, and lose confidence after the 100th “no response” from a qualified job submission.
Do not go to the dark side! Remain positive, and know there is an even better position out there that you will be perfect for. Recognize that positions open up constantly, at the companies you’re interested in, and it is all a matter of timing. Check the job boards daily, modify your linked profile, and set a schedule for every day on submitting to jobs and making connections on LinkedIn.
Don’t be a Couch Potato
One important thing to note – if you are at all like me you can’t sit idle and watch TV all day with a bag of chips by your side. Develop an action plan and stick to it day after day – finding your new exciting role is now your new job – treat it like one.
Here are some tips I leveraged when laid off:
- Fill your time with something you can put on a resume. In my case I formed a 1 man consulting firm and did part time consulting with small businesses, leveraging my connections to find smaller companies that didn’t have a dedicated IT or systems staff.
- Volunteer – offer to join board seats at non-profits as one example. No matter what your field or area of expertise, there are tons of non-profits out there that can use your help – even if part time or just for a few months.
- Get up, get dressed, and follow a schedule every work day. e.g. Search for new positions across 20+ job boards for 1 hour; apply for at least 5 positions the next hour, then network with friends and colleagues the next hour.
- Schedule at least 2-3 lunches a week with former colleagues or new connections on LinkedIn. Socialize – don’t treat it like a job interview. Having people that know you personally, and know you are being selective about finding your new role, will help position you in there mind when they hear of something weeks later.
- Consider using a professional resume service – they can take your years of experience and craft it into a work of art that will get you noticed and in for an interview.
- Make sure you’re current on interviewing skills.
The end result of my journey [and yes being laid off is a journey] was that I landed in an even better position that I had previously, working with a great group of people, and given the charter and freedom to drive changes and improvements based on my years of experience.
The light is at the end of the tunnel, and it is brighter than where you were before. However, don’t neglect the journey. What you do along the way should be rewarding and expand your perspective of life. It should not be filled with fear or anxiety.
Best of luck if you find yourself in the situation of being laid off and facing unemployment – remember that this is simply the next stage in your life. Focus on doing what I outline and you will come out ahead with a whole new set of life experiences!