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Assess, adjust after layoff before job-hunting

Coach's Corner--January 26, 2009

The Client
Name: Alicia
Age: 48
Title: Director, Business Services
Industry: Manufacturing
Issue: Handling being laid off

Q. I just found out that I'm being laid off. I'm in shock, and wondering what I should do to get my feet back under me.

A. Focus on your personal well-being and take stock of your situation. Then begin to think about your next steps.

The inner game
You've had a big shock -- let yourself feel it. Notice everything that's going on inside. You may feel anger and resentment, likely mixed with fear. It won't help to deny or repress these feelings, so start by identifying them.

Be open to surprising feelings. Relief, if you've been expecting the shoe to drop. Anticipation, if you've been dissatisfied but holding back from making a big change.

Take a long-term view. Many people have told me that, once they had a new job, they wished they'd enjoyed their time off more. Even in such challenging times, things will eventually work out, so try to make the best of your situation.

The outer game
Reach out. Find people you can talk to. Co-workers caught in the same layoff can be a great source of support for sharing feelings. Friends or family who have lived through similar events can provide perspective, especially if they are well past it and have settled into new positions. If your feelings are overwhelming, use services such as your company's employee assistance plan for additional support.

Assess your needs. Review your financial situation, including savings and other household income, along with your expenses. Be aware of the details of your separation package, if any. Look at your health insurance status so that you and your family will remain protected.

Prepare for action. Many companies offer transition services such as résumé preparation or interviewing advice. Know what's available and ask lots of questions, even though you might not feel like it right now, so that you can use all the resources that are available to you. Look externally, too. Minnesota has an excellent network of WorkForce Centers. Other areas likely do too, so find them and know what they have to offer.

Have some fun. Especially in a tough economy, a job search is hard work. As you gear up to look for a new job, do some things just for fun. Go to a movie during the afternoon or have lunch at your child's school. You're not slacking -- you're building your energy. Remember to take care of yourself with the basics of eating well, getting enough sleep and getting regular exercise.

Get ready to make your plan. This is a chance to think about what you want to do, what your ideal next job is and the steps you need to take to find it. Whether you make a substantial change or stay in the same type of role, you'll be most effective if you plan out your job search strategy. This will be the focus of next week's column.

The last word
Before you leap into the next steps after your layoff, take some time to adjust, take care of yourself and plan for action. This will set you up for success as you move forward.

Liz Reyer, President RCC - Posted January 25, 2009
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