Here's How To Make The Most Out Of Being Laid Off
Remember: You didn't do anything wrong and you will find another job.
Being laid off sucks, but whether due to budget cuts, company restructuring or any number of other reasons, it happens. Until last August, I thought it would never happen to me. Until it did, completely out of the blue. Here's what I learned.
While you couldn’t pay me to relive the half hour-long meeting where I was told my fate, being laid off (or "made redundant" as we say in the UK,) very quickly became one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Like, within 24 hours quickly. Here’s how to make it work for you.
Ask questions, get answers (and hopefully some extra $$$)
When I was sitting in that meeting room, suddenly jobless for the first time in my adult life, my mind was completely blank. Asked repeatedly by my HR advisor if I had any questions, I couldn’t think of a single thing, but was assured that I could email him anything that later sprung to mind.
Trust me: Everything will pop into your head once you’ve calmed down, gone home and read over your job contract with a fine-tooth comb (boring, but 100% necessary). If you find anything where you’re even the tiniest bit unsure your company has stuck to during the redundancy process, ask—and if you don’t trust the first answer, ask someone else.
I was given the chop one month before a year’s continuous service, so my redundancy package completely omitted the annual bonus I had been looking forward to...until I read in my contract that the bonus was ‘pro rata.' I questioned it and, indeed, an 11 months’ bonus was added to my final payment. That means a lot when you’re not sure where your next pay check is coming from.
Depending on how long a notice period your company has to give you, and what their policy is on having you continue to work in the building during that time, you could be around for a while after being given the redundancy news. While it might seem tempting to come in late, slack off early or generally make zero effort, don’t! Chances are your boss is still going to be your go-to reference for your next employer and you want to keep that relationship sweet.
That being said, don’t be afraid to ask for time off to job hunt or attend interviews, as your employer will know that finding a new workplace is kind of important during this time.
Use your contacts
The first thing I did after waking up the morning after ~the talk~ wasn’t throw up (surprisingly, since I drank A LOT that night.) Rather, it was email my previous boss to ask if she had any freelance work available—and she did. In less than 24 hours I went from having no job to three months’ work lined up that (bonus!) paid more than I would have earned in my old position.
While you might be unsure of what you want your next move to be (and that’s OK), your contacts can be a super valuable source of job leads, temporary work and helpful guidance. You’ll be amazed how many of your peers have been laid off in the past and come out of it on top.
Polish your profile
Haven’t touched your LinkedIn in years? It’s time to update that bad boy and show recruiters what skills you’ve gained from your most recent work, and let the world know you’re open to new opportunities. It’s not a myth that headhunters will slide into your DMs; if your profile is up to date you’ll be amazed at the opportunities that come your way.
Remember: You didn’t get fired
There’s a big difference between being laid off with severance and being fired. Especially on the tough days, it’s well worth remembering. You didn’t do anything wrong, you didn’t suck at your job, and you will find another one that fulfills you even more than the last.
Now go forth and be fierce.
Words: Jennifer Lynn