5 Tips for Getting Laid-Off Gracefully
Move on to bigger and better.
Let’s call it like it is—getting laid off is the worst. We’ve got tips for maintaining your dignity and moving on to bigger and better in the face of an ego-bruising career setback.
1. Negotiate your severance package
You don’t get what you don’t ask for, so ask for severance even if it’s not offered. “State your case,” says life and business coach Gretchen Hydo. “Remind HR that you have financial responsibilities to maintain.” Your HR department may also be able to help you find a new job but, again, you won’t know unless you ask.
2. Keep goodbyes quick and painless
“You may be asked to leave immediately, in which case you’ll be escorted to your desk to gather your things,” Gretchen warns. “It’s a blessing in disguise.” Rather than have to explain the situation to your co-workers, you can leave quietly. “You won’t be at your best. You don’t want their last impression of you to be teary-eyed and emotional.” If you do have the chance to say goodbye, keep it simple. “Don’t give details,” says Gretchen.
3. Don’t burn bridges
Even if you stay friends with your former colleagues, resist the temptation to go into detail about your layoff or badmouth the company. “If you are going to train the person who is taking over your duties, keep it non-confrontational and non-dramatic, and leave the gossip aside,” advises Gretchen. Keep in mind that your manager doesn’t enjoy the conversation any more than you do—it may not have even been her decision to let you go. “Thank her for all you’ve learned during your time at the company,” she says. “Tell her you’d like to work together in the future. You can even ask for a reference for a future job opportunity.”
4. Perfect your spin
Think about how you’ll explain your layoff to prospective employers. “If your company was simply downsized, be straightforward about that,” says Gretchen. “If you were laid-off because you weren’t meeting goals or getting along with your co-workers, craft a simple statement that positively acknowledges the circumstances in which you left. For example, if you’re asked about it in an interview, say something like, “My skills weren’t a good fit for that role, and I think they’d be much better suited to this particular one,” then give an example to back it up.
5. Make the most of your time off
“Do some soul-searching,” says Gretchen. “Ask yourself if your last job was right for you. Ask yourself what you would do if your time, money and skill set weren’t an issue.” Getting an understanding of what you really want from your career will give your job search direction. To figure out what you’re good at, Wharton professor Adam Grant suggests asking 10-20 people who know you well to tell you a time when you were at your best; find patterns within their stories to identify your strengths. Make plans with old co-workers and mentors. Finesse your resume. “Reach out to headhunters and temp agencies to let them know you’re available,” says Gretchen. “Volunteer or take courses to further your knowledge of the industry. This shows initiative and opens the doors of possibility.”
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Image Courtesy of Ivanka Trump. Graphics: Ben Wagner