Finish Strong: 4 Steps to Move Forward After Layoff

Good endings lead to good beginnings

You’ve just received difficult news that your position will be eliminated. You are likely experiencing a gamut of emotions. “What do I do now?” is a pressing thought.

“Feeling a loss of control over your career with that company is natural, but the trick is to realize the things you can do to gain control,” says Roxanne Gilgallon, Senior Career Coach at IMPACT Group. “Though you may not be able to manage the change, you can take steps to empower yourself.”

When you are given a notice period of 30 days, 60 days, or 90 days before losing your job, there are positive steps you can take to finish strong with the organization and launch into your next role. Utilize these 4 tips to move your career forward during the transition.

1. Maintain Connections

There is a roller coaster of emotions during job loss. These emotions are natural – but try to keep them from hindering your professional relationships. “Refocus your attitude and outlook during the transition,” says Bridget Quinn Kadolph, Vice President of Business Solutions, Central Region at IMPACT Group. “Maintain your network among your colleagues to share encouragement, job leads, and new opportunities. You don’t want to let your emotions hinder relationships at the office.”

Roxanne advises to maintain a core group of people you trust and can confide in. “These individuals will help you process the emotions you experience. The emotional side of the situation can filter through in an interview and when you network. So it is extremely helpful to express your feelings to close friends and family so you can focus on the positive in other interactions.”

2. Develop Your Story

“While it may feel more natural to keep your transition story short and sweet,” says Roxanne, “be sure to portray the situation in a positive light, promote uplifting self-talk, and provide a broad scope of the picture.”

As you share the news with potential hiring managers, friends, and family, provide facts about your organization. Then include scope – such as where you as an individual fall into the overall picture of the transition. Finally, the most important piece is recasting the conversation to focus on the future. An example is:

“My employer has gone through significant change over the last few months, including the sale of my division. I have great memories of my time working with my team and want to make sure this transition goes well for my company. I’m excited to look toward the future and what I’ll do next.”

Put the message in your own words. Practice it a few times. “It might not sound natural at first, but maintain your thoughts and feelings when you say it. Those become part of the messaging too. The best way to manage them is through practice.”

3. Launch Your Campaign

Will you do the same job but in a different company? Will you remake yourself entirely in a new field? Regardless of what the future holds, it’s smart to take an inventory of your skills, personality, likes, and dislikes. Use the time of transition to determine what matters most to you. “You can start preparing today by giving thought to what roles you want to pursue and what you want to emphasize to potential employers,” says Roxanne.

Once you’ve decided your next career path, ask yourself what makes you stand out in the crowd. “Are you great at customer relations? Do you always achieve high productivity marks on your team?” comments Roxanne. “Whatever your superpowers are, that is the brand you want to present to the working world.”

Enforce this brand by weaving achievement stories into your résumé and LinkedIn profile. These stories will be beneficial when preparing answers for potential interview questions and building your online presence. Another great self-marketing tool is a 30-second “elevator speech” for speaking with your network and potential employers. “It’s always best to start preparing your speech and interview answers early,” comments Roxanne. “It gives you time to get feedback from others.”

4. Leverage Your Network

If your first thought is, “I don’t know anyone who can help me,” you’re likely looking at a network as something different than what it is. Roxanne advises, “Your network consists of colleagues, friends, family members, and acquaintances. Everyone around you is in your network!

Once you get past the misconception that you do not have a strong network, you can embrace what networking should be. “Networking is a two-way street where you share information with others and help them – just as they share information and help you,” Roxanne points out. “Talk to parents at a ball game, strike up a conversation in the grocery store line, and get to know the people you volunteer alongside.” The more you share your career aspirations with others, the more likely you are to find opportunities in your community.

“A good ending at your organization will lead to a good beginning in your next role,” says Bridget. “View the time of transition as a time of opportunity, and allow that belief to energize your job search.”

IMPACT Group believes every individual can thrive through change when provided with the right support and resources. Our expert Career Coaches serve as a life-line during stressful transitions. Learn more about our personalized outplacement services.