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Fishers, Indiana, United States
Brenda gained career expertise as a human resources leader at a global company before becoming an HR consultant. Her functional experience includes a variety of sales roles in the health care industry achieving success for over 30 years. She is currently in Consulting & Analytics Business Development for a health care firm. Her passion is participating in, writing about and observing the evolving workforce. For the first time in history four generations work together. It keeps things interesting. Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) are redefining retirement and what it means to age in the workforce. It is not just about money. Okay it plays a role! At 76.4 million members strong, Boomers are leveraging technology to continue their careers and the personal fulfillment working brings. Managing a late-stage career requires a strategy. There is no roadmap or one size fits all answer. This blog is about sharing, networking & finding your own right answer to working later, managing your career, redefining retirement, looking for work in your 50s & 60s and reinventing yourself.

Monday, July 15, 2013

How to Survive a Layoff

You will survive being laid off from your employer.
Monday Morning Pep Talk

 How well you survive and whether you thrive afterwards depends entirely up to you no matter what your profession, your age or where you live. This isn’t one of those kick-in-the-pants sermons, touchy feely “breathe and visualize the possibilities” moments or even the dismissive “one-door-closes-another-one opens, “you’ll be just fine” message. The fact is most people don’t know what to say to a worker who has lost their job. I’ve been suddenly laid off and it stinks. The company I worked for was sold 4 months after I relocated from Chicago to Los Angeles, which I had never visited before moving there for the corporate transfer.  I was a sales representative for a college textbook publisher and a buyer purchased the titles and did not keep the infrastructure—everyone from President to the lowest-paid employee lost their job when the Board of Directors made the announcement. The entire company literally shut down, the building was emptied yet the imprint still exists.
There are three areas to tend to when faced with sudden job loss for any reason. If you are not going to use the job loss as a bridge to retirement (which I do NOT recommend), you have to consider your emotional resources, your financial resources and your career resources.

You have probably heard of Kubler-Ross’ work on The Five Stages of Grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Some workers grieve for their jobs like losing a loved one. Others have different emotions connected to the disruption to their careers.  It is a very personal experience. How a person processes job loss often depends on how long they have been with the company, how wrapped up their identity is connected to the job and how much of your social life and work/life were meshed. No matter what, it is difficult. Just like losing a loved one, you have to take care of yourself, but don’t forget job loss also may affect people around you---your spouse, children, parents and other close friends. Once children are old enough to understand what is going on, it is important to communicate with them on their level and share with them what they can understand. If you need help figuring out what to say, call your employer’s Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) for help in developing that conversation.  Use your remaining employee benefits if your company is required to give 60-days notice under the WARN Act, and use your company benefits to take care of yourself and preserve your emotional, physical and mental health. A job search takes energy, good health and preserverance, so take care of yourself.

Job disruption can derail retirement plans and other goals employees set for themselves. Since everyone is in a different place financially, here are some general best practices. If your company offers a severance package and you need something more, consult an attorney in your state. Some companies use a verbal negotiation as a reason to terminate the severance offer. When I was laid off, I drove a company car and since Los Angeles is a city of drivers it was important that I had transportation while I figured out my next move. I called human resources and was able to keep the car an extra month before their fleet company picked it up. Did you know companies are under no obligation to offer severance benefits? Many companies do provide the severance safety net for employees in return for a signed release of lawsuits, EEOC and age discrimination complaints and more progressive companies are also adding bans on social media and digital to avoid disparaging remarks. Contact your unemployment office as soon as you have your paperwork to understand how your severance impacts unemployment. If your company offers a salary continuation severance, you may not be able to collect unemployment until it ends. If you are drowning in debt, you may want to contact your creditors to see if they offer some type of hardship assistance. After the recent recessions most banks and mortgage companies have developed programs to assist borrowers. It may be a good time to contact a financial planner to determine your options to meet your long-term goals.
Getting Back to Work:
Hopefully you networked throughout your career and everyone locally in your industry knows your name. Most of the jobs I have were through personal referrals. In turn, I have probably helped hundreds of others with introductions, leads on openings and giving what my friends call “the hook-up” to a recruiter or HR friend. LinkedIn makes this process a lot easier. I’ll put some LinkedIn tips in another post. Use LinkedIn, post your photo—we live in a visual world--connect. Don’t count on job boards to find a job (see post from August 6, 2011). Always apply on the company website and it does help to be a referral of a current employee in good standing. Other potential sources of employment leads include your alumni association and local job clubs. In Indianapolis there is a dynamic ministry hosting by The Church at the Crossing on the city's Northside. The work of Passport to Employment (p2e@golove.org) has helped over 300 people upgrade their jobs or find employment. Also, take advantage of outplacement services if your exit package includes the benefit. Outplacement counselors will help you write a resume, plan your job search strategy and you can practice interviewing with them.  They work with displaced people every day, so a good outplacement office will also understand what you are experiencing. Make sure you understand any non-compete clauses in your severance agreement or that you signed when you were hired. (It’s another good reason to retain an attorney to review and explain your severance paperwork even if you plan to sign it anyway). Realize that going back to work after a layoff is often more difficult than you think. Rigid hours, commuting, deadlines, stress and learning a new corporate culture are all part of going back into the rat race. Prepare yourself for the transition.

I’ll end where I began because it is true:  You will survive being laid off from your employer.


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