5 Things to Do after You Lose Your Job

Tee Morris, Adventurer...for hire.It’s hard to believe, but last Friday marked a month since my last day at Intersections.

For the past four weeks, I’ve taken in a lot. Good and bad. Of course, the irony of all this is that when I was hired by Intersections, the Recession was in full swing. And at the beginning of 2012, where a variety of news outlets from around the world were all noticing an economic turnaround at the beginning of 2012, I was downsized.

In this month, from the day I was let go to now, I’ve learned a lot. Granted, each layoff is different. Some involve severance packages. Others do not. Some employers treat you with respect. Others waste no time in getting you out of the door. It’s hard to predict how bad news like this will come, but I can say — after a month of letting the dust settle — there are at least five things to keep in mind when Corporate America pulls the rug out from under you.

5. Don’t panic. It’s easy to do when the news hits; and while quoting Douglas Adams may seem kind of trite coming from a geek, it really is true. Flipping out is not going to help anyone, and it’s going to make you look like a chump. I’ll admit, I felt a twinge of panic when I was told about how long my health coverage would last. I took a deep breath, and thought, “Don’t panic. Go out with class.” When all the formalities were done, I looked the executive in the eye and said, “It’s been a good run. Thank you.”

Keep it together. Keep it classy.

4. DO. NOT. MELTDOWN. THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA. When I was packing up my office, I saw that my TweetDeck was still running. I felt an urge to tweet “So this is what it’s like to get laid off.” but with my fingers over the keyboard, I paused. I thought about it. Really thought about it.

I immediately took my hands away, and shut down my computer.

What would have sharing my real-time bad news accomplished? Making Intersections look bad? Rally my troops so I can feel better for myself? Light a fuse for a complete online rant? Social Media has a bad reputation for being all about the vitriol because of people melting down as if Twitter or Facebook is a therapist’s couch. Remember that when you go public on social networks, you are going public. Everyone and anyone can see it. How do you want to be remembered at your job and represented online?

A Social Media Meltdown is nothing more than a chump move, and it’s burning bridges that you might want to leave alone.

LinkedIn3. Get organized. By the time I got home (roughly thirty minutes after leaving the parking lot), Pip looked up and said to me “There is a file on your Dropbox with job leads. Good hunting.” I sat down and immediately checked over my LinkedIn page, and even made the investment into a “Premium” account in order to get a few extra bells and whistles.

Within twenty-four hours, I had applied for 16 available Social Media jobs. This week, the number is now 76.

You want to keep your cool, but that doesn’t mean you stay idle. Spend an hour a day searching for jobs, then make one day out of your week the day you go out job hunting. Keep a spreadsheet so you can track what you’ve applied for and when, and keep track of any responses — even from staffing agencies — you get from your applications.

2. Keep it classy when reaching out for references. When downsized, keep this in mind: It’s not personal. This means that you have a window of opportunity —preferably within the first week of the layoff — in getting some good references from where you work.

I reached out to the executives I dealt with directly and sent the following note:

I wanted to thank you for two-and-a-half terrific years with your company, Intersections. I’m looking back on my time with you all, and I’ve got nothing but positive experiences staring back at me. Intersections gave me a chance when no one else would, and Intersections stood by me through one of the darkest times of my life. Couple that with the opportunities and accomplishments I enjoyed while working there, all I can say is “thank you.” My only regret was that Intersections could not find a place for me.

Each version of this letter was different, personalized for each executive I approached.

Within ten minutes I had my first reply. From the C.E.O.

Two days later, I had his letter of recommendation.

A recommendation on LinkedIn. Permission for phone referrals. I got a solid list of references, and these references happened because I didn’t make this personal. This was about numbers. This was about business.

1. Enjoy some downtime for yourself. Yes, I’m suggesting you keep yourself busy, get your references and your resumes in order, and plan for the hunt ahead of you; but make time for you.

When the layoff happened, I had plans with friends that night. Pip suggested I cancel. “No,” I told her. “I don’t want to hide. I want to be around friends.” All weekend, and since then, I’ve been doing just that. Friends. Neighbors.

And, of course, family.

Since the layoff, I’ve been enjoying morning walks with Sonic Boom to school. I then come home and start writing. I’ve been writing. A lot. Two short stories. A novella. (And not all of it was steampunk…but most of it was.) Quality time with The Janus Affair and its final layout.

Whether I planned for it or not, I’ve got time. Loads of it. So I’m taking advantage of it.

Take advantage of time you find yourself having. Bank some quality memories with your family. If you’re a writer, get some ideas down on paper. Or take this opportunity to broaden your skillset. Your job hunt will be there, waiting for you once you get back from what you’ve set aside for yourself. Prepare yourself for your job hunt. Don’t obsess over it.

There will be some days that are going to be easier than others. By doing some footwork immediately afterward, though, you feel like you’re taking the right steps. As I mentioned before, every layoff is different; but if you find yourself in an unexpected, unwanted career change, maybe this blogpost will give you some things to keep your sanity.

Another option in keeping your sanity: Captioned pictures of housepets. Laughter makes everything — even getting laid off — a bit more tolerable.

You got up there. Now...well....

 

12 thoughts on “5 Things to Do after You Lose Your Job

  1. Has LinkedIn been of any value to you? I’ve seen an awful lot of spamming done via LinkedIn, and I’ve never heard anyone speak of any benefits gained from using the service.

    Kee has been out of work for three years now. She’s been out of work so long that all of her skills have gotten rusty, and she fears that now she is unhireable because any employer will figure that if you’ve been out of work this long you must be a lousy worker. We’re still looking for signs of real economic recovery.

    Doc

  2. I have a job, but I suspect I may not for long due to loss of funding. I’ve been looking at possibilities, but most jobs want more experience or expertise in areas I am weak. If I were out of work, I think I would use time improving my skills that employers want, such as becoming better at certain software, and creating products that I can put in my portfolio to prove my skills. I might even volunteer in places I could demonstrate and practice those skills employers want. I am concerned because my searches don’t produce many plausible results, and I don’t have a spouse to help support me while I look.

    I can’t promise I wouldn’t have a melt down, but I promise to keep it private!

  3. Good morning, Tee.

    I’ve been “in transition” for nineteen months and your advice holds true for the long run. One addition to your list I would make: join an “in transition” group, of which there are many (at least in my area of the country) and take advantage of the networking possibilities. Eighty percent of new positions (depending on who is doing the statistics) are found through networking.

    Happy Hunting! (And finish that next novel. I’m waiting.)

    Jack

  4. Doc: I always figure try all the options when looking for a job, I also feel that if you are in a field anywhere remotely connected to technology you need to have a linkedIn page at least for the google search your employeer is going to do on you.

    As for these steps, they are great and reading this brings me back to my lay off, Gosh, it was years ago.

    Don’t Panic, excellent advice. I admit I had tears in the corners of my eyes, I had never lost a job before, I had always quit and moved on to another job, the idea of being unemployed scared me. (not anymore)
    Don’t meltdown: Such good advice. I always tell people if you wouldn’t yell it on the street don’t put it on twitter.
    I remember driving home from work when I was laid off, I called the only person I could think of that was home in the middle of the day, a friend of mine who had been laid off a few months back from his job of 13 years. Talking to someone really helped me process it so when I came home I was prepared.

    Love the references advice, I will have to keep that in mind not just for lay offs but for leaving companies on my own. Always good to have references stored up.

    When I was unemployed I treated looking for a job as a job, and while it took me over a year to land a new one (at the time, it was real bad for my field) it worked.

    Also, when looking for a job, don’t just apply to people advertising for positions, send your resume and a cover letter explaining what you do to random companies in your area. Anyone you find interesting write up a special proposal. Often places don’t know they need someone until it’s too late, so getting a resume can save them, or give them the idea to hire (in your case) a social media expert. Often companies are slow to put the ads out, but if they have your resume and cover letter (though I’m thinking in your case you could add a brochure of what a social media expert does) then you will be the first they call. I had this work for me on countless occasions and it was how my friend got her job at Maxim Magazine and JBL Audio.

  5. Hi Tee,

    Sorry to here about the job. Don’t worry there is a better one out there, there always is! I agree with everything you said! I’m going on month 6 of being laid off. My addition to this is to check out a site called Manager Tools. They have tons of podcasts on a multitude of great career topics. Its free, so go to the http://manager-tools.com/podcasts/career-tools and sign up. You will find at least one podcast covering each point you made. Look for the “I just got fired, now what?” topic. It will make you feel better.

    Well off to send off some resumes!

    Happy Hunting,
    Jeff

  6. Doc and others,

    Lately LinkedIn has been an interesting resource, and the more I’m tapping into it, the more leads I find myself looking into. I’m able to effectively search for jobs in the area pertaining to Social Media, and the ease in which I can apply for them using the LinkedIn interface is fantastic. The only downside is that most jobs I’m applying for do not fully connect with LinkedIn, and that’s a shame.

    There are still spammers on the network, and I still haven’t decided whether the discussion groups are a real benefit or not, but this month I’m branching out a bit and seeing what I can make happen. I have noticed a big difference between 2009 and now. Already with this blogpost (and my blog is directly connected to LinkedIn) I’m making a few connections and hearing from people about opportunities, and I’m waiting on one today that — if it comes through — could turna lot of things around for me, if the job offer comes through.

    So now, while playing The Waiting Game, I hunt.

  7. Tee-

    This post just affirms in my mind what I already knew; You are an amazing GROWN-UP. Grown-ups are increasingly hard to find in the business world, in my experience. I am proud to call you a friend (we have to make this you coming to Chicago thing happen!), and someone I am proud to recommend to anyone who needs to get a handle on Web 2.0, or needs a really great read(or listen). You were a great source of encouragement for me when I was hunting for a new project. I am eternally indebted to you.
    Keep on, keeping on.
    I’m keeping my ears and eyes open for you!

  8. Great advice on losing your job. I think especially keeping it cool and going out with class. It shows that you value yourself .
    I lost my job about 6 months ago, and I think it was what I needed to push me into places I would not have gone otherwise. I am now making steampunk jewelry, which I love and I get to make whatever I can think up! So, it is way more fun, though more stressful in that I have no guaranteed income.
    So, yeah, take that job loss as an opportunity. It could be the turning point in something huge.

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