Navigating a layoff can feel lonely. When we’ve navigated layoffs in our own careers, it was sometimes awkward to interact with former peers who still had jobs, especially when asking for help. Yes, companies like Meta, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Salesforce and Stripe are laying off thousands, but many more tens of thousands of people remain at those companies, often enjoying continued career success. That can make those navigating their layoffs feel even more alone.
Unfortunately, this feeling can turn into a self-fulfilling prophesy. To avoid the sense of isolation, don’t hold back when it comes to asking others for help! Reaching out to talk gives you a chance to work through this process with others. To get started, consider the following:
Give yourself time to mourn. It’s ok to feel shocked/upset and being laid off. Be kind to yourself. Order your favorite drink/meal. Go for a walk to clear your head. Hit a punching bag. Whatever it is, just be kind to yourself.
Before you start reaching out, plan. Schedule an hour to make a list of all the people who could help you. It doesn’t have to just be people who can help you get a job, but anyone who can help with aspects of your job search. Someone who always makes you laugh? Put them on the list! Someone can introduce you to others at a company you’re interested in? Put them on the list! Someone can review your resume/cover letter? Put them on the list! Someone can provide you honest feedback on your candidacy? You get the idea! Download your LinkedIn contacts to reminder you of how many people you know and create categories for them.
Revisit the list and add more names. Send holiday cards? Check to see if they’re on your list. Regularly catch-up with extended family? Great, add them to the list. People from school you haven’t talked to in a while? Facebook connections? People that are part of groups you volunteer with? Add them. People who you work out with, neighbors, etc. Add them too.
Leave some people off your list. While you’re brainstorming your list, it’s okay to acknowledge that some people should be actively left off your list. Do you find yourself in a negative headspace whenever you talk with someone? Leave them off your list. It’s okay to say “no” to manage your energy. Actually, it's imperative.
Define how people can help. As you start reaching out, make sure that you have defined some ways that people can help. Specific requests can be powerful and make someone else's job easy when they want to help you.
When you’re ready, set yourself a clear schedule. Include at least an hour each day to reach out to people on your list. People want to help, so ask for it! While email or social can be helpful, it can be more productive to pick up the phone or schedule a zoom to reconnect. As you gain introductions, add them to your list, and start tracking your outreaches (even if just on an excel spreadsheet). You can download a template here. This will be a living document, changing day-by-day, and can make the difference in finding something even better than your last opportunity!
Hopefully you will soon realize that you have more support than you think! And it is this support that will likely help you navigate one of the bigger challenges you may ever face, and be stronger for it.
As always, connect with us if you need help, or know someone who does.