How to fast-track your career after getting laid off 

Organizations are in a perpetual state of transformation driven by new technologies, leadership shake-ups, and ever-changing market conditions. While this can open up new internal career prospects as roles are restructured, it can also lead to layoffs. Right now, unfortunately, some companies are laying off workers. 

The labor market remains relatively strong; however, with the U.S. unemployment rate rising to a two-year high of 3.9% and the rate of layoffs increasing by 7% to the highest level in 14 months, nobody can assume their job is completely safe.

I’m a managing director of a career coaching firm, and the good news is that if you do find yourself on the redundancy list, it’s possible to fast-track your way into a new role.

Here are nine things to keep in mind in order to rebound after getting laid off. 

Hold tight on the emotional roller coaster

Getting laid off can feel like a personal rejection, especially if the process is handled clumsily or the relationship with your boss has always been tricky. Whatever cocktail of emotions you’re experiencing, try to depersonalize the situation. Keep all conversations civil, say goodbye to people where you can, and don’t burn any bridges. Remember, you’ll likely need a reference one day and you might want to work with some of your colleagues in the future.

Get expert and up-to-date advice

If your organization hasn’t offered outplacement support to help you find your next job, then request it. Whether it’s helping you craft your résumé or explore your options, professional career support can sometimes get you job-ready faster and land your next role quicker. 

If you aren’t able to get professional career support, don’t assume that everything is the same as the last time you looked for a job. It isn’t! For instance, new artificial intelligence technology can both help and hinder job applicants. Read up on the latest advice for candidates and take this on board.

Before you leave an organization, send an invitation request on LinkedIn to everyone you’ve worked with so that you have them in your contacts. In addition, make a list of everyone else you know and either talk to them or write them a personal note asking them to keep an eye out for opportunities for you. If they work in your field, you might also ask for advice or for an introduction to someone potentially valuable. We may live in an algorithm-heavy age, but lots of people still find their next job through people they know—or, even more often, through someone they know who knows someone else. 

Collect evidence of your recent achievements

Prospective employers will want to hear about your professional achievements, so ensure that you talk about these in your applications and during your interviews. If possible, anchor these achievements with data. For instance, measure the percentage you increased sales, quantify the rollout of a project lead, or count the number of people a new policy you developed impacted. It’s fine to grab this information from the company before you leave, as long as you’re not sharing any sensitive commercial information.

Ask for feedback

Whether it’s a career coach or someone else whose judgment you trust, you absolutely need to get an external perspective on your résumé and interview skills. Honest feedback helps you fine-tune your pitch to potential employers. So many candidates miss out on opportunities because they misjudge their messaging or apply for unsuitable roles. Save yourself time and angst by asking for constructive feedback at the earliest opportunity.

Explain your reasons for leaving

There’s no shame in saying to a recruiter that your role was made redundant. However, emphasize that it was in the context of an organizational restructure or a team redesign to dispel any hint that it was about your performance. My advice is to always talk positively about your experience with your previous employer, even if you feel otherwise. Then you can move on quickly to why this new prospective role is such a perfect fit.

Upgrade your skill set

Now is a great time to enroll in some type of professional development activity, whether it’s refining your technical abilities or deepening your leadership skills. This positions you as a candidate who’s up-to-date and willing to learn. Employers want candidates with a growth mindset because it means you’re more likely to adapt quickly to working in their organization, you’re agile, and you’re performance oriented.

Enlist a support squad of people to help you during your professional transition. Let your family and friends know how they can best support you, whether it’s listening to you patiently while you let off steam, providing encouragement, or giving you the time and space to look for your next job. Your community may be unsure about how to help, so being direct about what you need from them is useful for everyone. 

Remember that the best is yet to come

Being made redundant can be brutal, and it’s easy to feel discouraged. However, in my experience as a career coach, people often find that their next career opportunity is even better than the one they left. The key to success is in looking forward positively, getting yourself in great shape for the job market, and tapping into the support and expertise you need along the way.

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