3 Steps for Navigating the Layoffs Landscape

When I was a university student, one of my mentors was a Senior VP at the O&G company where I was interning at. I remember she told me one time that no one—no matter how skilled or experienced or high up in the corporate ladder he or she was—was in-disposable. This was the cold hard truth that I had to accept. Many other peers and managers echoed this message in my career conversations, regurgitating the cyclical nature of the industry and the many times when they got laid off and made career transitions or were lucky enough to make the cuts and were still standing at the company decades later.

Although disheartening, I’ve been told that these decisions are not meant to be personal—just plain business. I would argue that leaders should care more about the front line than the bottom line, but money is the big boss in the world of business. Hence, I try not to take each day at work for granted. Instead, I try to bring a lot of energy and focus on getting results so that A) I know I’ve made an impact even if something were to happen to me and B) I have impressive achievements on my resume that will help me land my next job.

For those of you who have been recently laid off, I am sorry about the situation and hope that this blog, hiring page, and tips will help you start the next chapter as soon as you’re ready. For those of you who haven’t experienced layoffs yet—I hope you never will—but I still challenge you to think about how you could prepare for it if the day were to come.

Step 1: Acknowledge that it can happen to anyone

You’ll likely feel stunned. Whether you saw it coming or not, getting the formal notice that you no longer have a job to come back to can never be easy for anyone. It’s okay to take the time you need to process what happened. Don’t be afraid to get emotional. You deserve to feel wronged for investing all of your time and effort into a company that barely blinked an eye while sending you the bad news over email.

Journal: Get those thoughts, worries, and doubts out of your head. Journal and write down everything that you’re thinking about. You never have to share this with anyone, but it is a very cathartic exercise that can help with your mental health.

Share what you’re comfortable with. You don’t need to go through this alone. Talk to those in your professional support network (mentors, coaches, old managers or team members) and personal support network (family, friends). Set the expectation upfront and tell them if you want them to just sit and listen or give you perspective and advice.

Step 2: Reflect, rethink, and reset your values and expectations

You are now at a tipping point in both your life and career. Instead of jumping right into job hunting mode, why don’t you take a big breath and rethink what you really want and need? I’ve heard so many times that “everything happens for a reason”. Things may suck at the moment, but your reaction will determine whether you rise or fall further.

Reflect. Look at your career path and recent role and company. Were you happy and fulfilled at home and at work? Were you making the income you thought you deserved? Did you see a future on the team or at the company? Did you want to stay or were you already thinking about different opportunities? What were your goals and have they changed? Check out these 20 Self-Reflection Questions.

Rethink. Is losing your job the end of the world? It is certainly an inconvenience for you and potentially your family. You have now lost an income source, which may be your only income source. You may or may not have savings or investments that can keep you afloat for the next few months. This can be super stressful, but now you have an opportunity to figure out what’s the best next step.

  • Could it be taking time off to take care of your kids full-time because you missed out on their earlier years because of your demanding career?
  • Could it be starting that side hustle that you have been thinking about but didn’t have the time to pursue because you were busy working full-time?
  • Could it be traveling around the world or living like a local because you never had a chance to take more than a few weeks of vacation?
  • Could it be going back to school or switching career paths into a new industry since you were already getting bored with your old career?

Note: If you haven’t been laid off before, start thinking about how you can develop financial security for yourself and your dependents as if it could happen anytime. If you’re starting from 0, aim to have at least 6 months of fixed costs covered. Check out my personal finance section for more tips and how I paid off my student loans, bought a home, and built a $100K net worth within a year.

Reset. Think about what you want, what you really really want. List everything out. Bucket every value, goal, or idea into themes. Prioritize these themes and focus on the top 3. Then develop a career and life roadmap and figure out what you need to achieve the life and career you want. Easier said than done, but there are so many free resources (just Google or Bing it) and get started. The most important thing is actually taking action instead of thinking about it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

Read some of these career stories for inspiration:

Step 3: Find that sweet spot for taking your next step

Although you likely feel pressured to figure everything out right away, know that the effort is not worth the strain on your mental health and wellbeing. You will likely be “off your game” for some time and that is totally okay. Focus on getting good sleep and exercise because you now “have the time” for it and you can never go wrong with getting these 2 essentials right.

At the same time, don’t venture off into the world of inaction for too long because you may end up losing some of the motivation that you will need to get things going again. Always try to keep that bigger picture in mind (once you figure out what that bigger picture looks like from reflecting, rethinking, and resetting). Once again, don’t be afraid to ask for help or support. I would think that most people are willing to help you reach your goals if they see you making an effort as well.

Closing thoughts

As of now, this is what I would tell myself if I were to face a layoff *knock-on-wood* as well as anyone else who is going through it right now or may go through it one day. I know that I am writing this from a privileged perspective and it’s likely a lot tougher to face in reality, but I do believe that a growth mindset can help in one of the toughest situations that we can face in our careers. I’ve personally met so many people who came out on the other side and are still doing well (if not better than before)… and I know you will too 💪💪💪

Here are some more job hunting resources to help you (full page of content here):

Best of luck & rooting for your success,


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