By Sushma Hebbar*
The news is rife with stories of companies downsizing in a big way. And yes, it is scary. Losing your job is hard; it is a traumatic experience. It is a threat to one's mental health and self-esteem.
There is no quick fix to overcome this very unfortunate and tremendously stressful situation, and it takes some time to recover from it. Yet bouncing back is possible. Here are some tips to help you do just that.
1. Give yourself some time to grieve
Before you jump into another job, take some time to grieve. You need time to process what happened, and understand how you feel about it.
Don't deny your loss. Don't suppress it. Give yourself the time and space to get your mind around it and over it. Feel like sitting and sulking or gossiping or cursing for a while? Go ahead, vent it out. Get everything out of your system completely.
2. Analyse what went wrong
Look at the situation from another perspective and introspect. Ask yourself what went wrong? Could this have been prevented? Was the layoff because of external factors (company problems, restructuring, management changes, etc), or was it your own fault? In case of the latter, what can you do to improve? Introspecting and finding the answer can give you the closure to accept your situation.
Most of us stick with our jobs for too long, because then we're within our comfort zone—oh what a devil that is. A layoff can be an opportunity to start afresh.
3. Look at the positive side of it
It could be an opportunity to try the career options you always had your eye on. Most of us stick with our jobs for too long, because then we're within our comfort zone—oh what a devil that is. We find it difficult to move on to something more interesting just to avoid the extra effort. Also, we may fear the uncertainty of the outcome. A layoff can be an opportunity to start afresh. It is the time to look at your varied interests and explore new career options.
4. Manage your finances
Watch your expenditures. See if you can cut back some of your spending. Let your family know about the situation. Lying will only cause you more stress. Be fully aware of the benefits you can claim (Provident Fund, severance pay etc). If you have any savings and/or fixed deposit, see if they're sufficient to sustain yourself until you find a new job. Don't panic! Stay calm and manage your finances wisely.
5. Approach your support system
Vent it out! It's cathartic and therapeutic. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Layoffs are frequent in today's job market. Everyone knows about it. Having a support system in the form of family, friends or a counsellor will help you handle the pressure.
6. Prepare your answers
Be prepared to answer tough questions. "Why were you laid off? Was it because of your performance? What was the cause of your low performance?" Prepare yourself and don't be ashamed whatever the case may be.
7. Increase your visibility in job portals
Increase your activity on job portals and social media that can fetch you a job. Start networking with people in the field that you're interested in. Reach out to ex-colleagues and friends. Attend relevant workshops and seminars to learn new skills, to meet new people and to stay updated with the latest trends.
8. Take care of yourself
Eat healthy, get 6-8 hours of sleep, and adequate exercise. You might want to shut yourself away, but that's not going to help you. You need to feel productive. You have to get out of the house even if it's just to get fresh air.
It's not mandatory to have a routine 9-5 job to make money. Look for part-time jobs and freelancing work.
7. Identify your core skills
Identify your skill set—problem-solving, critical thinking, analytical skills, etc. Then work to enhance them further to prepare yourself for your forthcoming jobs.
8. Be open to diverse employment opportunities
Be open to different industries and positions. Skills are transferable to various industries. List down your strengths and weakness and explore where your skill areas can be used best. If you are confident about your skills, you can flaunt them in front of recruiters. You can impress them with the things you can do and the potential changes you can bring.
9. Be creative
In this highly competitive world, you have to be different and creative to grab attention. Think outside the box, do something unique.
10. Think beyond 9 to 5 jobs
Most of us are caught up in finding full-time jobs. It's not mandatory to have a routine 9-5 job to make money. Look for part-time jobs and freelancing work. These can give you long-term employment, good money and the time you want for yourself.
Layoffs are hard and can be stressful. Don't panic. You are not alone. If you find it difficult to manage please reach out to mental health experts or career coaches and seek help.
* Sushma Hebbar has completed her Master's in Clinical Psychology and is working as a career psychologist. During her internship in the All India Institute of Speech and Hearing at Mysore, she has worked with children with ADHD, learning disabilities and other challenges, including Down Syndrome.