Learning that you are being laid-off from your role with your employer can be an overwhelming and emotional experience. In a lay-off, the future can seem ambiguous and uncertain, and it can be hard to know what to do and where to begin.
But, while the process of unexpectedly transitioning can be scary, it doesn’t have to be confusing. There are actually a few specific and strategic steps that you can take in order to best move forward.
Below, I’ve outlined these five steps to take after a lay-off in order to set you up for success in leaving a role, finding a new one and successfully transitioning into a new season.
1. Take a breath
You’ve been working hard, and it’s ok to use this as an opportunity for a short break.
In fact, taking a step back can better position you to clear your thoughts and consider how this unexpected turn of events can give you new opportunities. Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, a project you’ve always wanted to complete or an avenue you’ve always wanted to pursue—but never had the chance? This could be that chance you’ve been looking for.
Most of us spend more time in the office than anywhere else, so moving from one job to another—regardless of the circumstances—is a big change. Allow yourself the time to reflect on the past and consider where this opportunity might lead you so that you can start this new chapter well.
2. Take care of necessary paperwork
After you’ve taken a moment of reflection, it’s important to complete your required separation agreement for work in a timely manner and take care of tying up any loose ends with your former employer.
Consult your HR representative to ensure that you’ve taken care of the necessary items required by the company and that all of the necessary paperwork is in order before you fully move on. You’ll likely need to turn in all equipment and return any company credit cards.
In addition to the paperwork you’ll need to complete for your previous employer, you’ll also need to consider what steps you’ll need to take for your immediate future, such as filing for unemployment or establishing health insurance for you and your family.
Checking this necessary box of form-filling and bookkeeping can be complicated and time consuming, but it’s essential.
3. Evaluate your personal brand
If you’ve been in the same role for a while, you may not have updated your résumé or your LinkedIn profile in a while. Take some time to polish off your personal branding documents and your online presence by adding any new skills you’ve developed, projects you’ve led or connections that you’ve gained.
If you haven’t been active on LinkedIn, consider sharing or even writing interesting articles about your areas of expertise to become more visible online. Think about what it is you want to be known for, and participate in online discussions about that topic, remembering that what you say is an extension of your brand and what others can know about your professional skills.
A career consultant can help you explore gaps or incongruencies in your professional brand to help you be a more competitive applicant for the next role. A consultant may suggest certain trainings and certifications, help you create an online portfolio or even assist with your professional presence.
Review your personal brand with fresh eyes, just as a new potential employer might do, and think of what new ways you might be able to expand your presence.
4. Make a plan for finding something new
Once you’ve had the chance to take care of paperwork and consider possible opportunities, it’s time to start your job hunt. Based on your separation agreement and your financial needs, you may want to create a search strategy that can inform the moves that you make.
Consider whether it’s best for you to take an aggressive approach or a passive approach to entering the job market.
Consider how aggressive or passive your approach will need to be. If you want to avoid a lapse in insurance coverage, if you don’t receive an outplacement package, if your finances don’t allow for an extended break or if you have a very specific skill set, you may want to consider an aggressive search
You may also want to consider connecting with a recruiter or career coach who can help you create a strategy that matches your needs.
5. Network, network, network
Tapping into (and even expanding) your network of connections is one of the most advantageous things that you can do to find new opportunities
Start with consulting the connections that you already have about your next moves. If you already have a good relationship with other professionals in your field, ask them to support you and endorse you in your search. They may be able to connect you directly with a new opportunity, or they might know someone else who can.
That’s why it’s also important to ask your current connections to help you make new connections through their own networks. Attend community or industry events, and connect with others in attendance—first in person, and then online via LinkedIn or email.
People can’t help you if they don’t know you—and likewise—so it’s valuable to foster connections wherever possible.
Accessing Additional Help During a Lay-Off
Everyone’s specific situation is different, and some can benefit from additional resources and guidance during a transition. To connect with a career coach or to access more resources for how to best move forward after a lay-off, connect with a Warren Averett Workplace advisor.