Last year I was laid off from a company that I was with for close to twenty-one years. People have asked me if I saw it coming, and to be honest at the time I did not. They say hindsight is always 20/20 and after being out of work for eight and a half months I had plenty of time to think about my last few months at my former company. Maybe just maybe I was a little too complacent or arrogant to think that a job loss could ever happen to me. But, when I review my twenty plus years I had a good run. I started making less than $20k per year and grew that salary by 650% with three promotions over the years. I always received average or above-average reviews. It’s just business they say, and don’t take it personally it was tough not too after a long and successful run. I have since moved on and I want to share with you the main things they got me through. This is how I survived a layoff.
No hysteria did not help me get through my layoff. The morning I got the call to come down to human resources I knew what was about to happen. I walked by a co-workers office and told him I was on my way to be fired, I shook his hand and told him it was a pleasure working with him. Through the whole experience of sitting in the HRs office reviewing the reason (not much of an explanation was given) to the paperwork, and severance package I never panicked. After leaving the building I had worked for almost nineteen years, I calmly called my wife and told her what happened and explained to her we’d be okay.
That attitude served me well during the whole experience in the coming months. I remained positive. Sure it was disappointing to lose a job that I had so much invested in, but I viewed it as an opportunity to move onto something bigger and better. As I talked and interviewed with prospective employers over the next several months the last thing I wanted to show was a broken, defeated attitude or talk badly about my former company.
A big part of the no panic attitude came from the hard work we had done years prior. It started in 2010 when we made a choice to get our financial act together and work on becoming debt free. Reaching that milestone eight months before the layoff might have been dumb luck or great timing, I’m still not sure which, but it gave me and my family a great sense of security. Our cash emergency fund coupled with a severance package gave us the confidence to know we’d be okay. Since we knew our monthly budget was around $6K we knew exactly how long I could be out of work.
I cannot imagine what this would have been like if we did not have a plan in place for our money. I don’t want to think about the stress, anger, and panic that would have been introduced into our life. It has so strongly etched the never go back into debt in my brain that I want everyone to understand the power of having control of your money and a cash emergency fund.
Many of us use social media to keep in touch with friends, family, professional contacts, promote things, etc. I use Facebook for friends and family and LinkedIn for professional contacts. No matter what platform you use, you need to ask yourself how often do you keep in touch with the contacts on it? Networking in any form whether you are performing it in person at a networking event, a wedding, a backyard BBQ or on social media needs to have both a give and take. Over the years I have helped my network. I have put them in touch with potential jobs, or hiring managers or just someone to talk to when the need information about a company they were interested in. In return in my time of need they were there to help me. I landed my current role in part by a contact in my network who put a good word in for me.
I do not reach out to my network only during my time of need. I periodically reach out to say “hello”, wish them a happy holiday, or forward an interesting article. Does it take a lot of work? Yes, but it’s worth the time because when I need them or they need me I’m top of mind because of my periodic outreach.
Those have really been my keys to surviving a layoff, not panicking when I got the word, remaining positive during the job search process, having our money plan in place and relying on my network to help me out in my time of need. I also had a ton of support from my wife, kids and immediate family.
Have you ever faced a layoff? What tips did you use to survive?