🚨 Layoff survival guide

Published On: February 17th, 2023

I’ve been there. I’ve been pink slipped, decommissioned, laid off. I can call it a lot of things but the feeling can leave you reeling. With the economy likely on the verge of recession and many Fortune 500 companies laying off large numbers, you know the daily news isn’t always positive.

Today I want to turn it around ’cause there’s a lot we can do. I’m sharing a toolkit for preparing for a layoff and dealing with the after. If you’ve got a friend who could use a shoulder, give this a forward.

Let’s do this!

Today’s newsletter is 1213 words, 6 minutes.

1 big thing: 📉 Good people, hard market

🍏 Fresh start. A layoff may seem like the end of the world in the moment, but it could become a fresh start, a new beginning in your life. It was for me. My first layoff was during the dot-com, dot-bomb implosion. The next was a corporate merger. Then another corporate merger. I could go on and on and on.

  • Here’s the thing – it’s not your fault. Good people get hit by hard markets all the time.

A layoff is a time to reflect. Do you love your industry, your job, your career path? The answer for me was often a resounding ‘No’. I loved some jobs and hated others.

🛠️ Skills reset. Every time the market shifts is a good time to build your skill set. I’ve taken numerous free courses to upskill my technical, financial, and communications knowhow. There’s courses for learning how to use software too. Here are a few resources offering free courses:

  • Coursera
  • edX
  • Udemy
  • Your local library. My fav place with excellent free resources

This is a no shame, no blame moment. Give yourself a hug. Put this time and energy to good use.

2. ✅ Prep checklist

It’s always smart to prepare yourself both mentally and financially for a possible disruption in employment. I’ve put together a recession-ready list.

💰 Personal finance. Standard personal finance rules apply with a possible layoff.

  • Emergency funds. This is your top priority. I know it’s hard with inflation taking a bite from paychecks, but now is the time to build your emergency fund.
  • Rising interest rates. I put together an Interest Rate Toolkit to guide you through surviving rising rates.
  • Repeatable expenses. I call recurring bill payments ‘repeatable offenses’ ’cause they can go unnoticed. Time to notice them and cut any that are unneeded.
  • Social programs. Do you qualify for unemployment insurance / employment insurance? How long is the waiting period? Know what you’re entitled to before you need it.

🙂 Find the good. Collect the emails and performance reviews praising your work. These are a fantastic reminder that your job loss has nothing to do with your abilities. Sure, use it for future job interviews, but this is a mental boost you may need to get through a recession too.

👀 Watch for signs. Get your spidey senses in gear and don’t discount anything.

  • Is your industry laying off loads of people?
  • Are there cuts to projects, budgets, bonuses, hiring freezes?
  • Has your company been acquired, merged, or is showing poor performance?
  • Is there high executive turnover, emergency all-hands meetings?
  • Do things feel weird?

🌱 Ground intelligence. Getting a little proactive now will help you to hit the ground running if need be.

  • Online cleanse. Social media can come back to haunt you, and prospective employers will research your profiles.
  • Get Linked. Update your LinkedIn profile with new skills, re-establish contacts, and build your network.
  • Use your benefits. Schedule dentistry, get glasses, fill any prescriptions, and get your retirement plan match. Use it or lose it. Find out how long your benefits continue after getting laid off.
  • Know your rights. Research the minimum severance you’re legally entitled to based on duration of work, your position, and how this compares to the industry norm.
  • Contracts. Pull out your employment contract. What are the rules for vacation payout, vesting of stock options, commissions, retirement plans & pensions? What non-disclosure agreements are you subject to? Are there any non-compete agreements? Find out if they’re legally enforceable.

⚙️ Data and devices. Remote work forced many of us to use personal devices for work and vice versa. It’s time to shift back and separate personal and work data.

Move it or lose it. Remove personal data off work tech ’cause it might become part of the corporate archive and belong to the company. Cleanse your personal devices of work stuff as well.

Being prepared helps so you don’t feel completely blindsided.

3. 🚙 Making an exit

😕 It always feels a little confusing. You wonder if you could have done more, and it’s common to take it personally. A lot of people are out of work, so again – not your fault. Losing your job can be a gut-punch, but you can get through it.

✅ Keep calm and carry on. Don’t get (visibly) upset, don’t bad-mouth your employer, don’t burn bridges. As good as it might feel, you have absolutely nothing to gain and much to lose. Former co-workers and managers may end up as future references or colleagues.

🔗 It’s all over LinkedIn. Posting a layoff message and updating your status to “Open to work” is how you announce you’re in the market and are welcome to job openings.

  • Handling it well, thanking companies and colleagues, and presenting yourself professionally are steps you can take to land future work. Showing good character can help connect you to recruiters who are looking for your exact skill set.

✏️ Don’t. Sign. Anything. At least not right away. During layoffs, employers often make a severance offer and expect you to immediately agree to it. Since you’ve done your prep research, you know what’s fair and acceptable. If you’re unsure, it may be worth finding an employment lawyer to review your compensation.

  • Just like salary and benefits when starting a job, severance is also a negotiation.

✏️ Apply for benefits. Employment insurance has a timeline, a wait period, and paperwork. Resources below.

🇨🇦 Canadians

  • Apply for EI as soon as you lose your job. You’ll need your Record of Employment (ROE) from your former employer.
  • All the info: EI Benefits in Canada

🇺🇲 Americans

There’s no shame in being laid off. It happens to the best of us. It’s important to cut yourself some slack if you do end up losing your job in this market, so take some time, check in with your friends, update your contacts, and you’ll land on your feet.

Love love love,


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