5 Mistakes to Avoid in the First 48 Hours after a Layoff

spring man blueMaybe you saw it coming.  Or maybe you were completely blindsided.  Either way, hearing the words “We have to let you go” may be the start of one of the hardest work conversations in your career.

If you’ve been in the workforce for any length of time, chances are you have experienced a layoff.   Changes in industry, policy, technology and globalization will guarantee that more company restructuring is in the future.  Since emotions tend to run high (even if you suspect it), it’s best to be prepared.

Here are 5 mistakes to avoid in the first 48 hours after a layoff that can 1) save your reputation and 2) help you land a new job more quickly:

1) Saying or doing things while emotionally-charged.  When in a stressful situation, we tend to “react” versus “respond”.   To avoid actions you may later regret, keep the exit conversation brief and focused on the necessary facts.

2) Going it alone.  After getting bad news, seek out your trusted support structures and take a moment to breathe before making decisions.   Surround yourself with loved ones who can help put things into perspective and remind you that there are resources available.

3) Venting to everyone you know.  While expressing frustration to your inner circle may help you move forward toward healing, be careful about spewing negativity or bad-mouthing your former employer with your networks.   These contacts will be VITAL to your career search.  Craft a neutral message that authentically explains what happened and focuses on a positive future.

Example: “ABC Company was purchased by a competitor and the entire finance department, including my role, was released.  Now I am looking to take my 5 years as a Senior Analyst and help start-up technology companies realize cost savings.

4) Waiting to apply for unemployment.   It can take time to process paperwork, and depending on the rules in your State, you may be eligible even if you are getting severance.  Don’t wait and find out later that you could have been collecting a check for the past few months.

5) Sending a resume to everyone you know.  It may feel productive, however, it’s worth taking a little space.  Now that you have freedom to start fresh, consider what you liked and disliked about your former company and role, how your skills have changed, and where you are in your career.  Instead of throwing darts in the dark, tailor your campaign and be clear about your direction before reaching out to your contacts.

Happy new beginnings!

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