Every day is a new day, full of hope and promise, and today is no different. You get ready for work, kiss your kids goodbye, and head to the office. But there’s a catch — this day will not be your normal routine affair. As soon as you settle in at your desk, you receive a buzz from your manager. Maybe it’s a new assignment, or maybe the same old targets meeting — who knows? But as soon as you enter, you hear those unforgettable words, “We’re sorry but you’ve been let go,” or the more serious baritone, “Pal, you’ve been sacked.”
They do add that little meaningless line at the end of your visit, “Do tell us if you need any assistance.” And just like that, your journey is over. At first the feeling doesn’t sink in, but the more time you spend thinking about it, the more you grasp the gravity of the situation. It seems as if the world has come to an end.
Layoffs — Not So Rare Anymore
The term layoff has become quite acceptable recently. Forget individual layoffs, these days companies often employ mass-layoffs, sacking multiple employees at the same time. The heartless ones even do it via teleconferencing.
Although India is the hub for IT services, escalating costs and a decrease in demand are prompting more companies to conduct layoffs. With widespread speculation that Tata Consultancy Services, one of the “Big 4” most valuable IT services brands worldwide, will lay-off 25,000-30,000 Indian employees this year, and other large firms already shrinking their workforce, the trend is not welcoming.
But how do you — an intelligent, hardworking and dependable employee, with a family to support — react? Well mostly with anger, fear and depression. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Dealing with an IT layoff can be quite tricky, and sometimes even devastating. The first rule of dealing with a layoff is not to feel ashamed or less worthy — being laid off might have nothing to do with your performance. In most cases, layoffs are simply the quickest means of cutting the company budget. Some companies cut jobs because they outsource your work to other localities, just to save some bucks. Since they don’t care about your loyalty, why should you? The best solution is to just move on and put the situation behind you.
These are some of the steps you can take to deal with an IT layoff:
Don’t curse yourself. The worst thing you can do is curse yourself. While it’s normal to feel shocked, you should never at any moment feel ashamed. Because if you do, sadness slowly makes its way inside your head, forcing you to think in a completely pessimistic manner. You’re going to need to stay positive to get through this situation.
Don’t hide it from family and friends. Don’t put yourself in the corner away from the rest of the world. Many laid-off workers confine themselves to a single room and become web-bound — a dark and sad place. Stay in contact with others.
The more you try to hide your job loss, the more painful your situation will become. Be open, discuss it with your spouse. If the kids are old enough to understand, then have a short discussion with them. Be positive and answer their questions in an honest manner. Most times they are very capable of understanding. You’ll probably need a cheering-section to help you through this — you’ll be astonished how much family and friends can help you in the long run.
Don’t cut off from your colleagues. Maybe you no longer feel the same amount of pride or confidence when you talk with colleagues. You might even feel ashamed being unemployed. Maybe you just don’t want their sympathy. Either way, quit feeling that way — millions other people lose their jobs every year. Truthfully, people understand a job loss.
Let your colleagues know you’re looking for a new position. Most people are willing to pass on opportunities for work, especially if you’ve built a network and have helped others in the past — everyone likes a “nice guy,” and people are usually willing to help where possible. Remember colleagues that you worked closely with. They are a great source for references.
One warning: Be careful joining a support group of similar laid-off professionals. While there may be some connections and a bit of support, too often it can become a place to complain and bemoan your fate. A group like that is no support. As much as possible, stay away from negative thoughts, and negative people.
Plan for the future. After you get your emotions in check, it’s time to look ahead. Take an inventory of your skills and accomplishments, plan for the future and dust off your resume. Your skill set is great, and while it may take some time, the sooner you start looking for that new job, the sooner you’ll find it.
Things not to do
When dealing with a surprise lay-off always keep your emotions in check. Too many people make some serious mistakes when they get the bad news. Avoid these pitfalls on your way out the door:
Fighting with your former employer, and the world. They just fired you, which means they won. At the end of the day you’ll need your experience letter. A letter of recommendation is also a great help. So before you lose control, and tell them what you really think about their company and family, bite your tongue.
This applies to your dealings with the world as well. Negativity never helps. It causes others to avoid you, and it’s those others who you’ll be relying on to help you find new work.
Signing off immaturely. You might dream of sending that nasty email as a final defiant act, but don’t. If allowed, finish all of your work in a professional and thorough manner. Hand in keys and passwords, clear all your dues, know about your health benefits, severance packages, and be aware of signing non-compete clauses. Keep your relationships with former co-workers and bosses cordial — you never know when you might need them, and what goes around, tends to come around.
Booze is not your friend: Watching endless television while binging into an alcoholic stupor is not going to help. Take some time to recover and blow off a bit of some steam, but don’t look for comfort in a bottle.
Feel bad for yourself. This is the worst thing you can do. Why feel bad for something that wasn’t in your control. Divert all your energy towards the positive side, the things you can control, like preparing your resume, contacting companies, and so forth. Losing your job is the start of a new job, something different and better from what you’ve been doing.
Get Yourself Back in the Game
Now that you’ve put aside any negative feelings or thoughts, it’s time to get you back in the game. Putting the past in your rearview mirror requires self-control, emotional support and yes, loads of preparation. The following habits will go a long way in helping you land your next job:
Maintain a schedule: Just because you aren’t employed, doesn’t mean you aren’t working. You job now is looking for work — and it’s a full-time effort. Try to maintain a daily schedule. Get out of bed at the same time as usual, and get dressed as if you were going to work. Set aside eight or more hours a day to look for work. Set goals on how many people you will contact, or resumes you will send out.
If you need to brush up on your skills, or need new ones, make time to study and practice. Maintain a daily schedule of positive effort to look for your next job. Take time to stay fit, work out regularly and eat a healthy diet. By doing these things on a regular basis you’ll be controlling the things you can control and not focusing on things out of your control. Keeping a schedule will go a long way in helping you avoid depression and discouragement.
Use your network. Tell your friends and relatives you are looking for a new job. Most companies hire internally without posting on the web — this is where your network can be of great help. There is no shame in accepting favors.
Prepare for interviews. When you get an interview, don’t try to “wing” it — be thoroughly prepared. Research the company’s operations, the challenges they face, who their competitors are, and so forth. Make sure you know who you’ll be interviewing with, check out their social media posts — who knows you may have a common acquaintance or interest.
Be prepared for the tough interview questions. Don’t bother explaining in detail why you were let go. Keep it short and simple, most employers know that people move around to new jobs for any number of reasons. Make sure you are confident about every reply that you give. The fact that you got the interview means they think you have the skills to do the job.
Dress appropriately for the position for which you are interviewing. If you don’t know what the dress code is, wait outside the building and observe what workers are wearing as they come and go. When in doubt as to what to wear, it’s always better to overdress.
Believe in yourself. You have lots of accomplishments. You succeed at most things and as a professional, you know how to work hard and solve problems. Don’t tell yourself that finding a new job is impossible. You found your last one, and you’ll find your next one.
The best way through a layoff is by countering your fears directly. Don’t run from your fears, face them. You’ll be surprised how they shrink as your courage grows. Never fear failure, all successful people have failed more than they’ve succeeded. Failure is often the best way to learn. Once fear of failing is out of your system, things become a lot easier.
Getting laid off is a part of capitalism, and especially part of IT. As technology advances we will see more disruption in employment, but also more opportunities for new ways of thinking, of solving problems and for different types of employment.
Don’t take being laid off as a defeat. Instead take it in stride as a learning experience. Remember: No one becomes successful without being well-acquainted with failure.