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Concerned about layoffs? You’re not alone. Though the labour market has stayed strong throughout the tail end of 2022, it’s pretty tough to ignore the headlines when they’re *right there* on your newsfeed, reporting job cuts across nearly all sectors. Oof, right?

Unfortunately, layoffs do happen – they’re an unavoidable, though unpleasant, part of the working world. None of us want to think that our job might be at risk but, should the situation ever arise, it’s important to understand how to handle it.

What is a layoff, exactly?

A layoff occurs when “the company ends your employment for reasons beyond your control.” That could be due to financial constraints, a corporate reorganization or restructuring, a merger or acquisition or any number of other circumstances that are, once again, just to be extra, extra clear about this bit, related to the business and are outside of your control.

Is it the same thing as being fired?

No! There’s a big difference between being fired and being laid off. A layoff is a business decision made by the company that results in a loss of employment through no fault of the employee – which means, basically, that you didn’t do anything wrong.

On the other hand, when an employee is let go (or “fired), that’s a different story. In this case, the reason for the termination is due to something that is within the employee’s control (think poor performance, a negative attitude, a violation of company policies, etc.). This means, basically, that the company isn’t happy with the standard of work being completed and decides to end the employment based on that.

TL;DR: No, not the same.

Okay, but it still sucks.

It absolutely does still suck! Go ahead and let yourself feel your feelings – but try your best not to take it personally. Remember, good employees – heck, great employees! Top performers even! – can be laid off. It’s not a reflection on the quality of your work, you as an employee or you as a person.

THE DAY OF THE LAYOFF

Alright, so it happened. You’ve just been let go. The very first thing you need to do in this situation is to remain professional – even if you’re screaming internally. The situation is far from ideal, and having a bad reaction to the news won’t change that. Responding well, though, could benefit you moving forward.

Pay attention to what’s being said and make sure you’re clear on what happens next. Questions? Ensure you understand the timeline (when’s your last day? When are you expected to return company property – laptop, headset, etc.) and ask any questions you may have regarding health insurance and benefits, severance and the like.

Leaving on good terms? Confirm that you can use the company as a reference when you begin your job search.

CONSIDER YOUR FINANCIAL SITUATION

Right now, diving under the covers with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s finest probably sounds a lot more appealing than thinking about your finances. Rest assured, the time for cream and bad television is coming, but first, you have to deal with what’s aptly been called “livelihood logistics” – figuring out where you stand financially.

Ask yourself this: realistically, can you afford to take a few weeks off without stretching yourself too thin? For some, between savings and severance, this is a viable option. If you’re in a position where this is possible, we encourage you to take advantage of that before launching into the next big thing.

Now, while it would be nice if we all fell into category A, the fact is that many people don’t have the luxury of taking an extended break from employment. In this case, you’ll want to be sure to apply for EI as soon as possible after the layoff – even if you’re not sure you’ll need it. The process can be lengthy and, even if you wind up landing a great new job tomorrow, it’ll be good to know that you’ve got a fall back just in case things don’t go quite to plan!

OKAY, NOW IT’S TIME FOR ICE CREAM

In the aftermath of a layoff, you might feel like you should be doing… something. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be productive, but don’t beat yourself up about taking a day (or two!) to clear your head, reflect and practice a little self-care.

This time is important – and not just because it involves ice cream. If you dive headfirst into a job search, you’re keeping busy – but are you acknowledging the reality of the situation? Maybe not. By taking a little bit of me-time (even if it’s just a day), you can start to process what’s happened and get yourself in the right headspace to make smart choices that’ll further your career in the long run.

REFLECT ON THE PAST + PLAN FOR THE FUTURE

Layoffs are a little bit like breakups. After it happens, it’s easy to start thinking back on your time with rose-coloured glasses. That terrible office coffee, it wasn’t so bad! That coworker who never let you finish a sentence, he meant well! The lengthy commute, the traffic, the gas money – well, you can’t put a positive spin on everything.

Point is, reflecting on your job is important – but be honest with yourself. Even people who really, really, really love what they do still have a handful of responsibilities they don’t enjoy quite as much, or, on the other hand, some aspects of the work they wish they could do more of!

  • What did you enjoy about your last role?
  • What didn’t you enjoy?
  • Were you happy with your work arrangement/schedule?
  • Did you feel supported and challenged?
  • How was the company culture?


Once you’ve given the past some thought, it’s time to focus on the future with some basic goal setting and short-and-long term career planning!

  • What do you want out of your next role?
  • What are your immediate goals? What would you like to achieve by the end of the year?
  • Where do you see yourself five years down the line?
  • What does success look like to you?


SET THE STAGE + GET STARTED

You’ve processed, you’ve reflected, you’ve set some goals and you’re ready to get moving on your job search! Eager though you may be, there’s a few housekeeping items to take care of before you start applying:

Update your resume and LinkedIn profile

Dust off the ‘ol resume and give it a refresh. Chances are, you may not have looked at your resume since you accepted the job with your previous employer, so set aside a good chunk of time to go through it and make updates and adjustments as needed. Same goes for LinkedIn – but in this case, you can take it one step further if you’d like and enable the #OpenToWork feature to let recruiters know you’re up for a conversation!

Review salary guides to familiarize yourself with the market standard

Compensation has been a major talking point this past year, with salary expectations skyrocketing due to an ongoing labour shortage and the rising cost of living. Make sure you have a general understanding of what you can expect to make in the current market, based on your background, skillset and experience.

[Psssst – our salary guide hub is a great place to start!]

Peruse job boards to see what’s out there

No commitment required! Spend an hour or so poking around on some job boards to see what’s out there. If you’ve been out of the game for a while, you might be surprised at what’s changed in your sector! For example, skills-based hiring is becoming increasingly common, meaning you may have more options than you did before.

Chat with a recruiter

Again, no commitment! Recruiters are an excellent resource when you’re getting back out there (not that we’re biased or anything!).If you don’t wind up working with them to find your next role, that’s totally okay. They’re still happy to make the connection, discuss what your options are in the current market and field any questions you might have about your job search.

Reach out to your network

Now’s a good time to reach out to your professional connections, keep the conversation light (especially if you haven’t spoken in a while) but don’t be afraid to let them know you’re open to opportunities.

If reaching out directly makes you cringe, another option is to draft a public LinkedIn post updating your network. It’s a good way to get the word out there that you’re available for work, and, since everybody knows everybody, you never know where that could lead.

After you’ve worked your way through the steps above, you should be in great shape to get the ball rolling on your job search. Final words of wisdom? Don’t rush, weigh your options and read the fine print – good luck!

NOT SURE YOU’RE READY TO COMMIT TO A NEW FULL-TIME JOB?

Consider freelance work! The rise of the gig economy has created opportunities for professionals to choose their projects, create their own schedules and work on their terms. And on that note… have you heard of our sister company, AmbiMi?