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How to Recover from a Layoff

Been laid off? Know someone who has?

It's an emotionally draining experience. (I know the pain first-hand, as my wife was just laid off after five years at a Fortune 500 firm).

So, what's the best way to cope with a layoff?

For answers, I combed through my own client files and interviewed nationally renowned career expert Carole Martin (visit her site at

  1. Acknowledge Your Emotions
    Don't deny that you're depressed or even angry following a layoff, advises Martin. "When you lose a job, you may lose friends, a social life and a big chunk of your identity along with a salary. So recognize that any change this radical is going to be stressful."

    To combat a flood of negative emotions, get them out of your system; if you try to repress that anger, you'll only make yourself sick. Try writing down your feelings in a letter to your old boss -- then burn that letter. This can have a healthful, cathartic effect.

    And don't hesitate to seek out people for emotional support, such as clergy and therapists.

    But Martin advises caution when turning to family members for aid. "They may be too close to the situation and get caught up in the same anger you're feeling."

  2. Take Time to Asses Your Value
    Before jumping back into the job market, make sure you're looking for a job that excites you. Avoid the temptation to take the first opening that comes along.

    Look back on your work experience and pick out the 3-4 most valuable and marketable skills you want to use in your next job. You have the freedom to decide.

    There are free career aptitude tests online to guide you through this self-discovery process. Here's a link to a good starting point --

  3. Create Your Perfect Pitch
    Once you've chosen a job to seek, create a 30-second commercial about yourself. What's most valuable about you? Your years of experience? Your technical expertise? The money you saved or earned for employers?

    Your sales pitch should answer the question in every employer's mind: "Why should I hire you?" And make it so intriguing that when you say it, listeners respond: "Oh? How do you do that?"

    Example: "I'm a help desk manager who brings order from chaos, with 5 years of experience and a CS degree. In my last role, I found a way to save 21 staff hours per week and $96,000 in annual expenses."

  4. Network As If Your Career Depended On It ...
    Because it does! You already know that upwards of 70% of all jobs are never advertised and only filled by word of mouth, right? So get out there and spread the word.

    Of course you'll need a top-notch resume, but don't devote more than 10-20% of your time to responding to newspaper ads and Internet job postings. "The very worst thing you can do is to send out resumes, wait by the phone and do nothing else," says Martin.

    To supercharge your job search, join a support group with other job seekers. There's emotional strength in numbers. And these groups can be a rich source of leads.

    Job search networking groups are sponsored by many churches and listed in your newspaper. You can find more at,, or by calling the library and asking for the reference librarian.

So, no matter what you're feeling after a layoff, look to yourself, to your friends and to professionals for assistance. "People really do want to help," says Martin.

-Kevin Donlin
Kevin Donlin is the author of "Resume and Cover Letter Secrets Revealed," a do-it-yourself manual that will help you find a job in 30 days ... or your money back. For more information, please visit