Thursday, February 19, 2009

You've Been Laid Off. Now What?

Several acquaintances I've "spoken with" recently (by email) have either been laid off, or are facing the real possibility of being laid off.  Having gone through it early in this "Recession" (Q2-08) for the first time in my life, I thought I could offer something to help.  Maybe.  Some of my friends find it odd that at age 44 I hadn't been laid off before.  I've been "furlowed" before, back in the 1980's, but that's about it.

Let's face it, there's really nothing *I* can offer that will really  "help" ease the stress or pain of that.  But I can at least provide a few insights on what you can expect, and some ways you can cope with it to lessen the stress and emotional beating you might otherwise endure.  Rather than blabber in paragraph form, I thought it would be best to say it in bullet-list format for simplicity and clarity:

- First off: File for unemployment right away.  Do that before you stop at the bar or the gun shop.

- You're going to feel depressed. Probably not for a few days later, when the reality sets in.  Maybe only a little.  Maybe a lot.  Don't give up.  Being laid off is tough for anyone to deal with.  It will be toughest at night, but reading helps get your mind off of it.

- Stay close with family and friends.  Seek out friends wherever you can, but don't lean on them too heavy with "needing a job".  Ask them for help reviewing your resume, but that's about it.

- Don't confuse "friends" with "colleagues".  This is not to say that there aren't friendly colleagues or that colleagues are somehow bad.  But don't lean on them like you would with "friends".

- Get a new hobby or brush up on an old hobby.  Physical activity is best.  Walking, jogging, hiking, biking, guitar, painting, whatever.  Get outdoors in the sun as often as you can.  Even if only for a few minutes.

- Avoid drinking.  Quit smoking also.  Eat healthy foods.  This would be a great time to adopt some healthy living habits.

- Avoid things that keep you up at night.  Turn off the TV.  Read.  Lack of sleep only makes things worse and screws with your emotional stability.  Don't listen to depressing music.  "Nutshell" by Alice in Chains is probably not good for you to go to bed with right now.

- Be nice to everyone as much as you can.  Don't assume they can understand what you're feeling and don't blame them for that either.

- Get up early every day, shower and get dressed.  Don't lay around sloppy.  Eat a good breakfast.  The effect of this on your sanity is incredible.

- Have lunch with friends and people you network with.  This keeps your mind tuned by staying involved with people in social settings.

- Sharpen your skills for whatever job you intend to pursue.  You have the time so make the best use of it.  If you can afford to enroll in classes at a nearby school, do it.

- Keep fine-tuning your resume and apply for jobs wherever you find them.  Don't use the same exact resume for every application.  Fine tune each one to suit the job posting.

- Don't be discouraged if an interview doesn't go well.  I applied for roughly twenty jobs the first two weeks after I was laid off, which resulted in two interviews.  Neither worked out, but I took the opportunity to review what I did and didn't do well and continued to work on it.

- Be aware of the job market relative to your skills, your location, the local economy, and how these all mix together into relative opportunities.  If your skills are more marketable elsewhere, and you can relocate, do it.  Use, and others to help open up possibilities.  For every local position I found, I was contacted for five in other cities, but I couldn't relocate for a variety of reasons.

- Be realistic, but strive to be optimistic.  Find humor in everything.  It's there.

I hope this helps.  It helped me a lot.
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