Insights and Opinions

How To Survive A Layoff

As we enter into the second quarter of 2009 we are beginning to see small signs of hope and improvement in the economy. The stock market is showing progress these past few weeks, local start-ups are beginning to see an increase in VC funding and SoCal technology firms are hiring. Yet, we are not out of the woods. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.4 millions jobs have been lost since 2007 in the US, and more are predicted this year, even as we slowly approach recovery. Chances are that someone you know--friend, relative, coworker—sadly, even you may experience a layoff. Below we’ve provided some information that maybe useful to you or someone you know--How to Survive a Layoff.

How to Survive A Layoff

1. Process Your Feelings

According to the list of Top 20 Life Stressors, losing your job is in the top 10 events that cause people major stress and anxiety, right up there with death, divorce and going to jail. You may be angry—knowing that you gave your company 110% for the past years. You may be asking why me? Why now? You may also be scared. Will I find a comparable job with a comparable salary? How will I survive financially? Allow yourself some time—no more than a few days—to acknowledge and process your feelings. Feel the pain, and then let it go. Last thing you need to do is to carry your anger or anxiety into an interview. Resolve to pick yourself up and do what you need to do to get working again.

2. Tighten Up Your Finances

Immediately, take stock of your financial situation and what changes you will need to make to get through the time you are unemployed. File for unemployment immediately. Examine your savings accounts and investments. Eliminate unnecessary spending and prepare for what may be a longer than usual job search.

3. Prepare Your Resume/References/Yourself

Take the time to really look at your resume and make sure that it reflects all that you have to offer. This is not the time to add your most recent job to an old resume. Use this downtime to your advantage. Completely overhaul your resume to present your background as it is today—and in today’s resume standards. Reach out for assistance if you need it. Reconnect with your references and let them know of your situation. By reaching out to past contacts, you have the ideal opportunity to network. If you haven’t interviewed in while, make sure you have all in place (transportation, interview attire, grooming, etc) to be able to interview or attend a networking meeting at a moment’s notice. Get this done within a week of being laid off—don’t procrastinate

4. Your Job Search Is Now Your Job

When working, you were required to adhere to some sort of schedule, whether that was 8-5pm or 12-7pm. Whatever your routine, stay with it. Use this time to search for jobs, post resumes, respond to specific jobs, write cover letters, contact recruiters and hiring managers, interview, network, etc. In today’s market, you will need to be very proactive to obtain the interview. We talk daily with candidates who’ve had great success in getting hired quickly and they used every avenue available. There are lots of networking opportunities available--online and onsite meetings—company and school alumni group meetings. Search them out and attend. Just be sure that you choose to associate with positive people who are focused on helping each other, not the ones who want to commiserate about being laid off. Give yourself and your job search the same level of dedication and commitment that you give your employers---you deserve it!

5. Stay Focused/Stay Positive

Now, more than ever, you will need heavy doses of Positive Mental Attitude. Not only are the fears real for many people, we also have the media bombarding us daily with negative news. Tune it out, turn it off or balance it with your own daily meditation and positive affirmations. Now IS the time to read the self-help, success, PMA books you may have laying around the house. If not, get your local library and treat yourself. Take care of yourself daily, both physically and emotionally. Remind yourself that you have been successful in the past and that you will be again. Associate with others who have this winning attitude. Today, as always, good people are in demand and they are getting hired. Be a Survivor!

Cathy Ashbaugh is the President of Pacific Shore Resources, a recruiting firm in the Los Angeles Area. Cathy founded the firm in 1995, and focuses on recruiting Engineers, Developers, Management and Support personnel and more for many highly sought after companies, ranging from large well established firms to exciting start ups. You can learn more about her firm at