Hopefully you have been preparing for this.
Today, layoffs, as well as termination, not always justified, workplaces closing down, and having to leave a job due to due to an abusive boss or co-workers, are realities the worker must consider. Prepare for this well in advance. Take a percentage of every paycheck and set up a personal unemployment fund. I rec’d sound advice from a psychiatrist colleague a few years ago; he said “simplify your life, and you will be less vulnerable [to the whims of an employer and the economy]’. He made a six-figure salary, but lived a simple life. He had a nice but modest home, a reliable car, but no extravagant luxuries. He had two years’ salary saved, which he could access at any time. He could leave a position in the event of an abusive boss without blinking, or get laid off without fear. Start preparing today. It will prevent anxiety in the event of a lay off.
If you have not been preparing:
You go into work Monday, and your supervisor calls you into his office with a grim look on his face. This is not a good way to start the week. You feel tightness in your chest or a knot in your stomach, and follow him into his office, where he delivers the news that the company is downsizing, and your position is dissolved as of the end of the week. Or maybe you have to leave now. I have seen this happen- employees dismissed with less than an hours’ notice, because “the funding for their position no longer existed”.
Leave with grace. Don’t make a scene, don’t beg, cajole or try to reason for your job. If the decision had not already been made, you wouldn’t be sitting in front of your boss having this conversation. Maintain dignity and decorum. Segue into..
Secure a recommendation. If you are being dismissed due to economic rather than performance problems, get a letter of recommendation, or assurance that, your future employer can contact your supervisor for a good reference. If the layoff is related to performance problems, get frank and candid feedback, however hurtful it might be. It will hurt more if you repeat a self-defeating pattern at your next job.
Update your resume, and start sending it off- don’t wait. The sooner you start actively pursuing another job, the sooner it will become a reality.
How fast do you need to get back to work? This will depend on what financial situation you are in. If you have savings and other income streams, you will have some breathing room to find another source of employment. You may even want to take a few weeks off before starting a job search. If your financial position is more fragile, you need a job ASAP. I believe that if you are determined, motivated, and open to possibilities- you can find a job that same day. It may not be in your field, it may be humble, and it may not pay well. But it will be a job. Use it until you can find the job you want. Shortly after finishing a Master’s degree, and starting an adjunct teaching position at a local college, I found myself without any courses to teach for the summer- that meant no paychecks for 14 weeks, and student loans, and other expenses to tend to. I went to work baking bagels for the summer. Though in a 40-hour week I would take home one third what I made teaching 18 hours a week, I could eat at the bakery shop at minimal cost, and it was two mile away from home, so I was able to cut food and gas expenses, and earn enough to get by one. Do what you have to, and never be ashamed of making an honest living through hard work. There is no job beneath you.
Do you have a friend or family member who operates a business who can take you on temporarily, until you find something else? Time to call them.
Alternatively, what about making a job? Have you wanted to start your own business? Now may be the time.
Commentary by Dr. Carlo Carandang:
Losing your job and income is a major life stressor that can be overwhelming, and is considered a significant mental health problem. With such a major stressor, it is important to manage it effectively so that you do not go on to develop a mental disorder such as depression or anxiety. As such, it is important to switch modes and access your natural supports in your community and start developing a survival plan.