How to Bounce Back After a Layoff

Episode 241 - Laid Off? Here’s What You Need to Know and Do Next
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Facing a layoff can be daunting and challenging, especially for experienced corporate professionals. The uncertainty and stress of navigating the job market can be overwhelming. This podcast episode and blog will provide valuable insights and actionable advice on managing your job search effectively after being laid off, ensuring you make the most of this transition period.

As of May 2024, several industries are undergoing significant changes and job cuts. In the United States, the tech sector has been particularly hard-hit over the past 12 months, with thousands of employees laid off from major companies like Google, Amazon, and Meta. This trend is mainly due to overexpansion and structural changes post-pandemic. Other sectors, such as finance, healthcare, and retail, are also experiencing job cuts, influenced by political cycles, consumer sentiment, and recession fears.

In Australia, job cuts are prevalent in retail and manufacturing as companies restructure and adapt to changing market demands. Telstra, the largest telco company, announced thousands of redundancies. The UK is also seeing significant layoffs in digital services, compounded by early election announcements, which can create further uncertainty in the job market.

The Importance of Networking

Networking is more critical than ever when navigating a layoff. Reaching out to former colleagues, attending industry events, and keeping your LinkedIn profile updated can open doors to unadvertised opportunities.  Data shows that clients who have networked since the end of last year have done better than those who haven’t. Networking can open doors to unadvertised opportunities and provide essential support during your job search.

Here are some actionable networking tips:

  • Reach out to former colleagues: Maintain and renew professional relationships.
  • Attend industry events: Both virtual and in-person events can connect you with potential employers and peers.
  • Update your LinkedIn profile: Ensure your profile reflects your latest achievements and skills.
  • Join professional groups: Engage with communities relevant to your industry.
  • Reconnect with your university alumni: Alumni networks can provide support and job leads.

Skill Development

Skill development is crucial when you’re between jobs. Clients who mix job applications with skill development tend to do better. Use this time to upskill or reskill, focusing on areas in demand in the current job market.

Consider the following:

  • Online platforms: Utilize free or affordable courses to gain new skills.
  • Certifications: While not always necessary, certifications can boost your credibility.
  • Project management and agile methodologies: If applicable, deepen your knowledge in these areas to improve your job prospects.

Mindfulness and Mental Health

Mindfulness can significantly impact your job search! The stress of a layoff can affect your mental health and your job search efforts. Mindfulness practices such as breath work, meditation, and regular exercise can significantly improve your mental well-being and job search outcomes.

Actionable steps include:

  • Daily exercise: Boost your mood and energy with regular physical activity.
  • Meditation apps: Use apps like Headspace or Calm for guided meditation sessions.
  • Mindfulness practices: Incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine to manage stress effectively.

Financial Planning

Managing your finances carefully during unemployment is essential to reduce stress and focus on your job search. Clients who do not worry excessively about money tend to perform better in their job search. Here are some financial planning tips:

  • Create a budget: Adjust your budget to accommodate your reduced income.
  • Understand your severance package: Make the most of your severance pay.
  • Explore unemployment benefits: Ensure you are receiving all available benefits.
  • Seek financial advice: Consult a financial advisor to manage your finances during this period.

Personal Branding

Building a solid personal brand is vital when looking for work. This means having a professional online presence and showcasing your skills and achievements. However, many professionals need help to define their personal brand.

To build your personal brand:

  • Strengths assessment: Take a strengths assessment test, such as TalentPredicts, to identify your core strengths and values.
  • Professional online presence: Ensure your online profiles reflect your strengths and achievements.
  • Consistent messaging: Be consistent in how you present yourself across all platforms.
  • Engage with a coach: If needed, book a consultation to refine your personal branding strategy.

Freelancing and Gig Work

Consider freelancing or gig work as a temporary solution while you search for a permanent role. Many employers have budget constraints preventing them from hiring full-time but may have short-term opportunities.

Benefits of freelancing include:

  • Income stream: Maintain an income while you search for a full-time position.
  • Skill enhancement: Gain new experiences and skills.
  • Networking: Expand your professional network through short-term projects.

Career Pivoting

A layoff might be the perfect time to consider a career pivot, especially if your current industry is not hiring or you lack enthusiasm for your career path. Think about your transferable skills and their application to different industries or sectors.

Steps to consider:

  • Transferable skills: Identify skills that can be transferred to other roles or industries.
  • Industry research: Explore sectors that are hiring and align with your interests.
  • Professional guidance: Engage with a career coach to navigate the pivot smoothly.

Addressing Optimism Bias

Many job seekers fall prey to optimism bias, underestimating the time it takes to find a new job and delaying seeking professional help. This cognitive bias leads us to believe we are less likely to experience negative events and more likely to achieve positive outcomes compared to others.

To counter optimism bias:

  • Realistic expectations: Set realistic expectations for your job search duration.
  • Seek early help: Engage with a career coach early in your job search to shorten the duration and reduce stress.
  • Acknowledge the complexity: Understand the complexities and competitiveness of the job market.

The Benefits of Working with a Career Coach

Working with a career coach can significantly reduce your unemployment duration and stress. Coaches provide tailored advice, helping you find your uniqueness and competitive advantage. They offer support in various areas, including resume building, interview preparation, and personal branding.

Benefits include:

  • Structured support: Coaches provide a structured framework for your job search.
  • Accountability: Regular sessions with a coach keep you motivated and accountable.
  • Emotional support: Coaches offer emotional support and boost your confidence.
  • Enhanced job search skills: Improve your resume, LinkedIn profile, and interview skills with expert guidance.

Conclusion

Navigating a layoff can be challenging, but with the right strategies and mindset, it can also be an opportunity for growth and new beginnings. Leverage your network, develop new skills, manage your finances carefully, and consider personal branding, freelancing, or career pivoting. Address optimism bias and seek early help from a career coach to maximize your job search success. Stay positive, stay connected, and keep moving forward.

Renata Bernarde

About the Host, Renata Bernarde

Hello, I’m Renata Bernarde, the Host of The Job Hunting Podcast. I’m also an executive coach, job hunting expert, and career strategist. I teach professionals (corporate, non-profit, and public) the steps and frameworks to help them find great jobs, change, and advance their careers with confidence and less stress.

 

If you are an ambitious professional who is keen to develop a robust career plan, if you are looking to find your next job or promotion, or if you want to keep a finger on the pulse of the job market so that when you are ready, and an opportunity arises, you can hit the ground running, then this podcast is for you.

 

In addition to The Job Hunting Podcast, on my website, I have developed a range of courses and services for professionals in career or job transition. And, of course, I also coach private clients

What are the first steps I should take after being laid off?

Immediately after being laid off, assess your financial situation, update your resume and LinkedIn profile, and start networking. Reach out to former colleagues, attend industry events, and consider taking online courses to upskill or reskill.

How can networking help me find a new job after a layoff?

Networking can open doors to unadvertised job opportunities and provide support during your job search. Reaching out to former colleagues, attending industry events, and keeping your LinkedIn profile updated are effective strategies to enhance your network.

What skills should I focus on developing during a job search?

Focus on skills that are in high demand in your industry. For many sectors, project management, agile methodologies, and digital literacy are valuable. Consider taking online courses to gain new certifications or deepen your knowledge in these areas.

How can mindfulness practices benefit my job search?

Mindfulness practices, such as meditation and regular exercise, can help manage the stress and anxiety that often accompany a job search. Maintaining mental health is crucial for staying focused and positive, which can improve your overall job search success.

What should I include in my financial plan after being laid off?

Create a budget that accounts for reduced income, understand your severance package, and explore unemployment benefits. Effective financial planning can alleviate stress and allow you to focus more on your job search.

Why is personal branding important after a layoff?

A strong personal brand sets you apart in the job market. It involves showcasing your skills and achievements on platforms like LinkedIn. This can make you more attractive to potential employers and help you network more effectively.

Is freelancing a good option after being laid off?

Freelancing can be a viable option to maintain an income stream while you search for a permanent role. It also provides opportunities to gain new experiences and expand your professional network, potentially leading to permanent positions.

What is optimism bias and how does it affect my job search?

Optimism bias is a cognitive bias that leads individuals to believe they are less likely to experience negative events and more likely to achieve positive outcomes than others. In a job search, this can result in underestimating the time and effort needed to find a new job, leading to delayed action and prolonged unemployment.

How can I effectively manage my time during a job search?

Create a structured schedule that balances job applications, networking activities, skill development, and self-care. Setting daily or weekly goals can help maintain productivity and keep your job search on track.

What role does a career coach play in navigating a layoff?

A career coach provides tailored advice, helps you develop a strong personal brand, and offers emotional support. They can also help you refine your resume, improve your interview skills, and strategize your job search, potentially shortening your unemployment period.

Timestamps to Guide Your Listening

  • 02:15 Current Layoff Trends
  • 06:19 Revisiting Past Advice
  • 06:39 Networking: The Key to Job Search
  • 08:31 Skill Development During Unemployment
  • 09:25 Mental Health and Job Search
  • 10:29 Financial Planning During Unemployment
  • 11:18 New Strategies for Job Seekers
  • 15:16 Understanding Optimism Bias
  • 18:12 The Benefits of Hiring a Career Coach
  • 24:16 Conclusion: Moving Forward

You’ve been laid off, now what do we do? This is a how-to guide for corporate professionals. Addressing this critical topic, you may have clicked to listen to this podcast or watch this video on YouTube because you have been faced with layoffs or are getting ready for the possibility of it happening to you in the future. Quite a few industries right now are undergoing significant changes and job cuts.

Many of you might find yourselves without work. My goal today is to discuss the current layoff trends, revisit some of our best advice from previous episodes, and expand on why I think the information is important and relevant to you. I will introduce some new strategies to help you navigate this challenging time, sharing things that have been on my mind. I want to explain some of the data I have found through the combined analysis I have been doing with clients’ information, with the purpose of helping you get this job of yours as soon as possible and make your duration of unemployment as short as possible. I hope this episode can educate you on what the next steps should be.

I know sometimes it’s hard to know where to start and what to focus your attention on. So if you’re navigating these next steps, this episode is definitely for you. Let’s do this.

First, I want to talk to you about the current trends in unemployment as we record this episode, which is around the end of May 2024. Let’s look at the layoff trends that we’re seeing now. In the United States, it has been happening for over 12 months. The tech sector specifically has been the hardest hit. Thousands of employees have been laid off from hundreds of companies in the tech world. Especially in the first quarter of this year, we have still seen quite a lot of layoffs, with major tech companies like Google, Amazon, and Meta announcing layoffs, adjusting their workforce post-pandemic due to overexpansion or changes in their structures, which is normal at any time.

But right now it seems it’s all happening at once. Other sectors as well, like finance, healthcare, and retail, tend to get caught up in the political cycle of elections, consumer sentiment, and recession. Usually, election years are when we tend to see the job market not being favorable to people looking for work. That’s normal, and we just need to adjust our expectations to that. In Australia, sectors like retail and manufacturing have seen job cuts. Companies are restructuring, improving efficiencies, and adapting to changing market demands, including international market demands. Australia tends to be very much affected by what’s happening overseas. We also see Telstra, our biggest telco company, announcing thousands of jobs will be made redundant before the end of the year.

In the UK, which is my third biggest market not just for the podcast but for my clients, interesting times are being experienced with the election being announced much earlier than expected. Lots of job cuts are happening. Digital services are struggling due to pandemic overhiring that is now readjusting. With the election being announced, layoffs may pause until they figure out who is going to be in government, which organizations tend to do at times like this.

Understanding these trends is crucial. Having an understanding of the macro effect of the economy and how it affects the micro effect of your life and career is really important whenever you think about job searching, the duration of your job search, and finding work.

You need to think about the macro-level, strategic level, what’s happening around the world. For example, what does it mean if you are in tech? There’s a shift in the industry. You might need to re-skill for the next wave of roles that will eventually be advertised or are already being advertised. You have to look at your geography. What else is available near you? Consider making changes. Do you want to make changes to your career trajectory? Get out of tech or transfer your skills to another sector? You might need to be ready for a more prolonged search, adjusting your budget, and expectations in terms of the type of employment you will get. It could be that you need to look for short-term contracts for the time being, which is one way that employers get jobs done when they have a hiring freeze but still have a budget line to hire freelancers and contractors to help them with work.

Let’s start by revisiting some of the past advice you may have listened to on this podcast before. If you’re new, you can listen now, subscribe, and let’s revisit some of that valuable advice from previous episodes and why they’re still effective today. I want to give you some data about it.

First of all, networking. This is a fact: my clients that have networked since the end of last year have done better than those who have not. Networking is always crucial, but even more so when you are between jobs in difficult and challenging times like right now. Reaching out to former colleagues, attending industry events, and making sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date—all these networking tasks can open doors to unadvertised opportunities and provide support during your job search. Attending virtual events, in-person networking events, and industry fairs is important.

These events can connect you with potential employers and industry professionals, giving you direct access to peers, colleagues, former bosses, recruiters, and more. Some people find it a bit awkward to go to these events when they are unemployed, but once you’re there, it’s fine. All my clients who have attended events really valued the opportunities and the expansion of opportunities that happened to them. You can find out about them online, join professional groups, attend virtual networking events, and reconnect with your university alumni.

These connections are crucial. They give you leads, referrals, and ideas about what you can do next. The whole point here is to shorten your job search. Seek out those events and find the free ones. Government, industry associations, and chambers of commerce often have free events.

Skill development is another important point. Clients who use their job search time to mix job applications with skill development do better. Using this time to up-skill or reskill to crystallize the learnings from your previous employment is really beneficial. Online platforms offer free or affordable courses, and there is no better time to take them than now. You want to crystallize those learnings, not necessarily to show a bunch of certifications on your LinkedIn profile or resume, but to know what to say and how to express yourself when explaining the work you’ve done, whether in project management, agile, or other areas.

Mental health is another crucial aspect. Clients who have adopted mindfulness practices like breath work, meditation, and exercise do better in their job search. The stress of a layoff can take a toll on your mental health and your ability to look for work. It’s essential to acknowledge that this may be happening to you or may happen in the future and adopt mindfulness practices. Whether it’s physical exercise to deal with the fight-or-flight response or downloading an app like Headspace or Calm for guided meditations, you need to boost your energy and mood to present well at job interviews and handle the failures and bumps along the road that come with recruitment and selection.

Financial planning is also important. Clients who don’t worry so much about money do better in the job search. Managing your finances carefully during unemployment is crucial. This could mean creating a different budget, understanding your severance package and how to use it, exploring unemployment benefits, and getting the financial help you need to withstand this period. It’s not going to last forever; it’s something finite, and you need to plan for it and get the support you need.

We also need to look at new strategies moving forward. Some things that I may not have explained as much in previous episodes, but I want to discuss now. First, personal branding from a different perspective. Personal branding is very important. You need to build a strong personal brand as you look for work. This means having a professional online presence and showcasing your skills and achievements. However, some of you may not know what your personal brand is or what your strengths are. If you’re struggling to understand your brand, start by taking a step back and doing a strengths assessment test like TalentPredicts, which is available on my website. It is often overlooked but very effective.

If you know your strengths and values, the report helps you speak confidently about them. Not everyone needs to build a personal brand by regularly posting on LinkedIn or writing articles or blogs. The point is to build a brand where you know what you’re good at and can talk about it when pitching yourself for a job, talking to a recruiter, or networking. Doing a strengths assessment and reflecting on the results, maybe booking a consultation with me to expand on what TalentPredicts suggests, can deal with most of the blocks people have about talking about themselves.

Consider freelancing and gig work. Employers who need you may not be able to hire you permanently, but they may have the budget to hire you for a short period. Many of my clients have engaged in three to four-month contracts and then moved on to permanent roles once the hiring freeze ends or the financial situation improves.

Career pivoting might be perfect for you if you’ve been dreaming about or considering it. If your industry isn’t hiring and you’re considering upskilling or reskilling in a career you’ve invested time in but no longer have the same energy for, think about transferable skills and roles in different industries or sectors. Moving somewhere else or engaging with a coach before taking big, risky steps can help. Having conversations with people and being mentored can be valuable. You are at a crossroads, so make the most of it.

Analyzing data from years of working with professionals, I’ve found that people often reach out to me later than they should, typically after many months of trying to DIY their job search. Most people come to me after the average duration of unemployment has passed. For example, if the national average is three months, they may reach out to me after 4, 6, 8, or 10 months. This delay is due to an optimism bias, a cognitive bias that causes us to believe we are less likely to

experience negative events and more likely to experience positive outcomes compared to others. This bias can lead to underestimating risks and overestimating the ability to control outcomes, affecting your job search.

Many job seekers believe that finding a new job will be quicker and easier for them than it is for others, underestimating the complexities and competitiveness of the job market. This optimism bias delays seeking help, prolongs unemployment, and increases financial strain. For example, a professional earning 150K per year laid off for 10 months without early coaching loses $125,000. Early intervention with coaching could minimize this job loss, making the investment in coaching worthwhile by reducing unemployment duration.

Working with a coach has emotional benefits, reducing stress and providing support. Regular sessions with a coach can boost accountability, set realistic goals, and enhance self-confidence, improving interview skills, personal branding, and overall job search success.

Coaching provides tailored advice that helps you find your uniqueness and competitive advantage. Group coaching programs offer an extensive network of professionals, providing support and introductions beyond what a private coach can offer.

Pay attention to optimism bias during your job search. Being aware of it can help you navigate more effectively, using it to your advantage and recognizing when it’s impacting you negatively. Engaging with a career coach can reduce your unemployment period, providing the right strategies and mindset to navigate layoffs and identify new opportunities.

Thank you for listening and trusting my ideas. Stay positive, stay connected, keep moving forward, and listen to other episodes. If you found today’s ideas interesting, check my website, RenataBernarde dot com, for services that may help you. If you learned something valuable, don’t forget to like this episode, rate this podcast, and give it a five-star review. It helps us share this information with other professionals. We need to be better at helping each other and talking about jobs and careers with ease, sharing both the highs and the lows to learn and succeed together.

Until next time, this is Renata Bernardi on The Job Hunting Podcast. I’ll see you soon. Bye.

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