What happens when you get laid off or downsized?

Middle aged woman laid off from her white collar job carries a box of her belongings.  Isolated on white.Layoffs and downsizings have been happening to people practically since the beginning of time. This happens to many good people, and quite often, more than once.

When it does happen, you may feel like a failure, a louse, a complete and utter zero. “I’m too old to start over! This is awful! My career could be over!” Then you have to tell people like your spouse, the kids, and all of your other family and friends. Things could not be worse, or so you may feel.

It is hard to realize that a layoff is not an ending, but rather, a beginning. You now have an immediate opportunity to reevaluate yourself and your career, and then plan for a new future. I have gone through this four times and almost a fifth. To me, each was an exciting time. It can be for you, too!

If at first you don’t succeed

Recently a friend called me and said he had to leave his job of 16 years because a new administration was changing everything. In his mid-50s, he was too old to get a job, he said. He had an interview and said he probably would not get the job.

“Stop it,” I told him. “You are a great person and a great professional, and those things will come through.” Alas, he went to the interview and did not get the job. He was devastated.

Undeterred, I then told him to do the following:

  • Above all, be positive. Easier said than done, I know, but this is imperative.
  • Make a “call” plan. Share your strengths and accomplishments with colleagues on social media, over the phone and in person. 
  • Consider starting a business and volunteering while looking for a new job. 
  • Look at finding a job as a full-time job. Work hard at it eight or 10 hours a day, six days a week. Use Sunday to research. 
  • Leave no stone unturned. Dig, dig and keep digging. 

I even told him to talk with his spouse about the future, and what she thought would be good for him. When he eventually called to tell me about his new job (that I knew he would get) I congratulated him and wished him the best. I then cautioned him that he could get laid off yet again, so don’t be complacent!

Try, try again

Work hard, do a great job. Learn, grow. Think about what might be your next move and prepare for that. These are the things I tell everyone.

Sure it’s hard to get the axe. But view it as a chance to do better, to move in the right direction for you and your family. It may not be easy, but with a positive attitude and hard work, you will survive.

Better yet, you will thrive.

"The Power of Ownership" by author John J. Bailey available on Amazon. You can be honest and succeed in business.Note: In 1996, I was working for a company and doing a fabulous job. But that company was making plans for a future that did not include me. 

At age 57, I started my own business, and within three years, was larger than my old company. I later sold my own company in 2009, and now speak and write about remaining positive and building a strong company and future.

My book, “The Power of Ownership: How to Build a Career and a Business” is available on Amazon.com in paperback and for Kindle.  

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  1. Pingback: Helping mid-career executives find their way | The Power of Ownership: How to Build a Career and a Business

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