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Making The Best Of A Lay-Off: The Graceful Exit

However, it’s common. In fact, in the contemporary workplace, it’s the norm. The days of putting in your 40 years and retiring with a gold watch went out with grandpa. Today’s workers, regardless of level, will work at an average of five different jobs in their careers. So, lay-offs are pretty much a given. Yes, it stinks, but there are some things you can do to take the sting out of losing a job.

Develop a Doomsday Plan
If you know that you’re likely to be laid off at some point in your career, doesn’t it make sense to put together a contingency plan?

By planning ahead, you can avoid the panic job search. That means tucking a few bucks away out of every paycheck. To be prudent, you should try to accumulate at least three months salary; six months is better.

Keep your ear to the ground at work. News of job layoffs often slips out and spreads through the company like wildfire. It may be just office gossip or it may be the warning bell to redo your resume and start a new job search – before the axe falls. It’s always better to be proactive rather than reactive – especially when living expenses are in question.

Be Cool.
The worst thing you can do is fire off an email to your manager comparing her husband to a mule. Before you clean out your desk, you want some things from these people, so never burn your bridges behind you – no matter how good it might make you feel.

Negotiate Your Severance
Not always possible, of course, but in larger corporations there’s usually some wiggle room for negotiations. Perhaps you’d prefer to keep your paid health insurance for 12 months rather than take a lump sum or vice-versa. If you can work it out with your soon-to-be-ex-employer, develop a severance package that best suits your immediate needs.

Career Counseling
If it’s offered, take it. You’ve been laid off, but the company still cares enough to help you find a new job. Take advantage. It’s free. And it may help you land your next job two months faster.

Same deal here. Larger corporations may offer to retrain you or pay for your new education. Take it. It’s free, it’s fast track and it works.

References are a must. That’s one reason you remain cool at all times. You want a good, out-the-door reference. And don’t stop with your immediate supervisor. Get letters of reference from the higher-ups too.

Letters from clients and customers also look good in an employment package or brag book, so don’t be shy about calling a few of your best customers and asking for a letter of recommendation. Very impressive to a future employer.

Leave the Stapler
You might be tempted to load up on office supplies, coffee, cartons of paper towels and a couple of laptops as you exit stage right. Don’t do it. It’s not worth it. It’s unprofessional. And, even though you’ve been laid off, stealing is still stealing.

Leave on the best terms possible. Handshakes, smiles, and best wishes all around. Leave the stapler behind. Being laid off may be a body blow to your self-esteem, but it shouldn’t be and it doesn’t have to be. You need to bounce back quickly. One day of abject self-pity is allowed. After that, time to start another job search.

Only this time…you’re ready!

Teena Rose is a columnist, public speaker, and resume wizard. She’s authored several books, including How to Design, Write, and Compile a Quality Brag Book, 20-Minute Cover Letter Fixer, and Cracking the Code to Pharmaceutical Sales ... includes examples of pharmaceutical sales resumes.
Getting laid off is a real punch in the gut. Even when you know the axe is going to fall, actually getting the news via the impersonal pink slip in the pay envelop or the personal, face-to-face good-bye, stinks.

Resume to Referral

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