"Why me?” he murmured with a heavy voice. Holding back tears his hands clutching his head. “Everything was going on so well. I don’t know how to tell this to my family," he sat on his desk as his colleague listened. The atmosphere in the office was gloomy. Hushed conversations, strange looks on peoples’ faces.
Rishabh was one of the unlucky ones in a large IT MNC. He got laid off in the second week of January. This is in the recent spate of layoffs tech companies are witnessing. It also seems to be catching on as the year 2023 advances.
Whether it is a general economic downturn or recession affecting only a particular business sector, layoffs are one of the inevitable outcomes. Looking at the bigger picture, there’s nothing unusual about it. However, when it comes to the individual who got fired, it is a serious problem. What happens next to Rishabh and the others who got laid off? They lose a lot of things apart from the money.
Getting laid off doesn’t only mean loss of a monthly paycheck or financial hardships, it also demolishes a system in which a professional thrives. A professional has his identity, and his purpose attached to a job. A position, designation and role in the business, all drive him/her to feel productive and motivated. A sudden severance from all this is a huge shock. It is considered second only to losing a dear one.
Effects of Layoffs and How Can One Recover
Some perceive it as a temporary setback. They pick up the pieces and start over again. Some feel uprooted and totally paralysed by the situation. Then there are some who might even consider taking an extreme step. Every individual has his/her own way of coping with it.
You can bounce back from this setback though by following some simple yet powerful strategies. In simple words, you need to do something about it apart from the job hunt. These strategies will prevent a low self-esteem, burnout, and a sense of loss. These feelings have a way to dampen the energy and efforts needed to come out of the situation. You have to be up and running as you search for a job.
1. Assess the situation objectively: Don’t get into the minute details of how you lost your job. Who was to blame? How you could have saved the situation and so on. This comes from the fact that you are in denial. At least, in the initial phase. This eventually leads to negativity that will come in two forms.
One, you are bitter about your organisation, two you are into a self-blaming mode and carry guilt. Some of us tend to get irritable, dejected, and anxious. However, an objective assessment will help you move on. Your negative behaviour may adversely affect your family, your relations and even your next job interview!
Get an objective perspective. Look at it as something that happened where you or your organisation may not have had any better choices. Businesses fail, markets crash, people are laid off. This is just one of those things. You are still a professional with abilities and skills that will help you get another job. Now or in a while.
2. Take on the stress head-on: Consciously, we all want to be back to our enthusiastic and productive self. We also know that this only will sail us through the hard times. However, stress and anxiety have a way of showing up and pulling things down. Job loss can be very taxing on your mental health. Irrespective of whether you feel strongly about it or not, make sure you do the following when coping with a job loss.
- Do not hold back your feelings. The advice of “be strong” will be echoing in your ears all the time. This makes it hard to bring up your emotions. However, it is important that you bring them up, feel them fully and let them pass. It is the natural process of grieving for a loss. You feel lighter and are able to move on.
- Talk to people about it. Your spouse, friends or extended members of the family members. Being egoistic and tight-lipped will only make you lonelier. Talking to people will get you a lot of moral support to begin with.
-Ensure that you have a healthy lifestyle. Have enough sleep, exercise and have a nutritious diet. Maintain a healthy and productive schedule. Be extra cautious of substance abuse including smoking and drinking. Remember, you are extremely prone to fall into an extreme state.
- Make time to meditate, take a walk, spend time on a hobby or trying something creative. One plus point here is, you have the time now. You used to crib about not having time for a hobby, remember?
Financial Planning and Limiting Expenses Help
3. Reduce the burn rate: Now that the regular paycheck is not coming, it’s important to assess your finances, assets and set up a survival plan for a sizeable period. First, cut down all the unnecessary expenses. This could be as small as giving up TV subscriptions for channels that you seldom watch. Restrict expenses on entertainment or socialising. Each of us have their own priorities, however, you would know what suits you.
Make sure that you involve all the stakeholders in these decisions. Your spouse, your grown up children and maybe your extended family are to be taken onboard when you plan a low-budget living.
If you got a large amount as severance pay, quietly stash it away. It is not a windfall for you to finance a house renovation or go on a shopping spree. It is something you may need if the next job takes too long to come.
Exercise Flexibility While on Lookout for Opportunities
4. Keep the job search as your main engagement: Despite the odds, it is possible that you may land up with another job soon. Make sure you are listed on all job boards; you apply to all relevant vacancies, and you are flexible with salary and job location. Do not be overtly choosy, not having an ideal job is still better than having none.
Job search is a multi-pronged approach. Out of the various ways via which you could find a job, two are the most important.
I) Through job portals – indeed, Naukri, Linkedin, Shine etc
For both of these, make sure you have updated your resume and listed all possible things that may qualify you to a different job than that you had earlier. Create various versions of the CV to target different people / industry / company. This is not being dishonest, it is about showcasing your most relevant skills suiting the requirements.
Do not apply for jobs that are too irrelevant for your skill set. The pitfall is that same recruiters will see your application for two diverse openings and label your CV as unreliable. Make sure you scan all the job openings on portals, target companies’ pages and all other relevant places on a daily basis.
A word of caution on networking for jobs. Make sure that you do not make distress calls to your network connections. While many of them would like to help, they may not answer your call next time. This may sound odd, but all of us try to keep away from negativity or a sense of guilt about not being able to help someone. Project yourself positively without a sense of desperation. Most importantly, do not make the other person feel responsible for helping you out. Keep the network alive and be on a positive note.
5. Upgrade your education: Now that you have time, you may want to consider enrolling into a professional course and upgrade your credentials and skills. You may even choose to learn a skill that may give you chance to start a secondary income. Some good places are university websites, professional training companies, free learning portals etc. Not only this gives a sense of purpose to your time, but it will also reap good rewards in the long-term.
6. Start a side hustle: Yes, you got it right. Do not keep waiting for your interview call endlessly (though be ready for one, all the time). Start a small business. ANY business. This could be a part-time job with a small business catering to the needs of your neighbourhood, anything that you could make and sell online from home, the list is endless. You never know some of these have a potential to grow into a full-fledged business. A word of caution here, do NOT invest too heavily into any of these. Try to put in as much sweat equity as you can.
Economic downturns, business failures and layoffs are part of life and it is not your fault. Get into an action mode, put your energies into your action plans and bounce back. It is all up to you.
(Zain Khan is a recruiter and trainer for over two decades. He is the author of the book "Bouncing back from a COVID Layoff". This is an opinion piece and the views expressed are the author's own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for his reported views.)