June 25, 2018

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Making The Best Of A Lay-Off: The Graceful Exit

Getting laid off is a real punch in the gut. Even when you know the axe is going to fall, actually getting the news via the impersonal pink slip in the pay envelop or the personal, face-to-face good-bye, stinks.

However, itís common. In fact, in the contemporary workplace, itís the norm. The days of putting in your 40 years and retiring with a gold watch went out with grandpa. Todayís workers, regardless of level, will work at an average of five different jobs in their careers. So, lay-offs are pretty much a given. Yes, it stinks, but there are some things you can do to take the sting out of losing a job.

Develop a Doomsday Plan

If you know that youíre likely to be laid off at some point in your career, doesnít it make sense to put together a contingency plan?

By planning ahead, you can avoid the panic job search. That means tucking a few bucks away out of every paycheck. To be prudent, you should try to accumulate at least three months salary; six months is better.

Keep your ear to the ground at work. News of job layoffs often slips out and spreads through the company like wildfire. It may be just office gossip or it may be the warning bell to redo your resume and start a new job search Ė before the axe falls. Itís always better to be proactive rather than reactive Ė especially when living expenses are in question.

Be Cool

The worst thing you can do is fire off an email to your manager comparing her husband to a mule. Before you clean out your desk, you want some things from these people, so never burn your bridges behind you Ė no matter how good it might make you feel.

Negotiate Your Severance

Not always possible, of course, but in larger corporations thereís usually some wiggle room for negotiations. Perhaps youíd prefer to keep your paid health insurance for 12 months rather than take a lump sum or vice-versa. If you can work it out with your soon-to-be-ex-employer, develop a severance package that best suits your immediate needs.

Career Counseling

If itís offered, take it. Youíve been laid off, but the company still cares enough to help you find a new job. Take advantage. Itís free. And it may help you land your next job two months faster.


Same deal here. Larger corporations may offer to retrain you or pay for your new education. Take it. Itís free, itís fast track and it works.


References are a must. Thatís one reason you remain cool at all times. You want a good, out-the-door reference. And donít stop with your immediate supervisor. Get letters of reference from the higher-ups too.

Letters from clients and customers also look good in an employment package or brag book, so donít be shy about calling a few of your best customers and asking for a letter of recommendation. Very impressive to a future employer.

Leave the Stapler

You might be tempted to load up on office supplies, coffee, cartons of paper towels and a couple of laptops as you exit stage right. Donít do it. Itís not worth it. Itís unprofessional. And, even though youíve been laid off, stealing is still stealing.

Leave on the best terms possible. Handshakes, smiles, and best wishes all around. Leave the stapler behind. Being laid off may be a body blow to your self-esteem, but it shouldnít be and it doesnít have to be. You need to bounce back quickly. One day of abject self-pity is allowed. After that, time to start another job search.

Only this timeÖyouíre ready!

- Teena Rose

Resume to Referral Teena Rose is a certified and published resume writer and author of "The 20-Minute Cover-Letter-Fixer" and "Cracking the Code to Pharmaceutical Sales". Use Resume to Referral for a high-end, high-quality resume and cover letter package.

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