Moving Forward After a Layoff

what happens after losing your job? you have to stay positive and keep your eyes on the job market.

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Moving Forward After a Layoff

You can beat the out-of-work blues

-Laura Weber Rossman

a woman at her deskWhile there is the real, practical impact of getting laid off–the paycheck stops–the emotional toll can also be high. A young friend said to me the other day, “They told me I was doing a great job. But it didn’t matter … I still got laid off. What did I do wrong?”

My answer to her was simple: “You did nothing wrong. And because you are a good worker, you will find another job. Stay positive. The economy will come around.” At a time when so many companies are cutting thousands of jobs, you can become a casualty simply by being in a certain industry or job category, or assigned to a project that gets cut. When companies need to cut workers because their revenue is off, the cuts can be very indiscriminate. If you are new to the workforce and you are experiencing your first “economic downturn,” remember one thing–this really is bigger than you, really.

So what do you do now? Two things should top your list: Get your personal finances in order and stay connected to your business field and contacts.

If you’ve put off doing it before, you really need to sit down and figure out where your money is going. It’s not a fun assignment, but a definite necessity at this point. Get your expenditures down to the basics: Determine what you can outright cut from your budget (shopping for new clothes, taking a vacation), and then identify those places that you can reduce (cable, cell phone, entertainment). Some of these adjustments may be hard to get used to at first, but take solace in knowing that there are thousands of other people who are doing the same thing. You are part of a trend. Did you know that public libraries are seeing a resurgence as people rediscover the library as a source of free books and internet access, and also helpful seminars? Back to basics is in.

Next task: your job search. Above all, do not lose contact with friends and business colleagues. Don’t be embarrassed by being laid off–everyone now understands that it is a sign of the times, not a reflection of your talent. Keep up through e-mail, get together for coffee, or call to check in. Set up an account on LinkedIn–but do be thoughtful about the people you link to. Use Facebook to showcase your business smarts (not the same page you use for your personal life, please). Find groups that are meeting in person to talk about searching for a job. Or create your own group, and be accountable to each other for reporting what you are doing to find a job.

Another way to stay connected to your business interests is through web sites and blogs; in fact, now may be the perfect time to start your own blog on a topic you are passionate about. Even if your audience is small, you’ll find that voicing your views and opinions keeps you positive and engaged. An added bonus: In your next job interview, you’ll have another interesting talking point that demonstrates your commitment to your field.

While you’re looking for a job, you may also fit in time to volunteer for a favorite cause or group. Non-profits, too, have been stung by the economy and have less money and fewer staff to do the work that needs to be done. Volunteering can help keep your skills up to date and your motivation high. Such activities may even lead you to find a new career path. And, in the meantime, it can simply make you feel good to know that you are helping others. If you need help finding out where to volunteer, ask friends or go to

Most important of all, stay positive, hard as it can be sometimes. Reach out to family and friends for support and don’t be afraid to ask for help. And remember, laughter is an instant vacation. You can afford that!

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