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I just got laid off - what do I do now?

If you’ve just been laid off, it happens. We are again in unprecedented times. Take a deep breath, and I’ll give you some advice about where to go from here.

My first piece of advice to you whether you were lucky enough to get a severance package with your layoff or not, don’t waste time…

This is not a vacation. Under no circumstances should you think that you don’t have to get up in the morning to go to work because you now have a new job. Your new job is officially to get a job! Don't worry, as I’m going to walk you through step by step how to strategize and make it happen.

Step 1:

You need to decide what kind of job you’ll be looking for, based on a few big things.

Answer these with specific answers.

  • Compensation - total and all in numbers?

  • Job Title and Responsibilities - what will your job look like?

  • Location - on-site, hybrid or full-remote?

Step 2:

Rank those 3 items in order from most important to least important. Based on the roles that are available ahead of you, you might have to compromise, and now is the time to decide your “must-have” versus “like-to-have.” This way your judgment is not clouded once the interviews and potential offers are coming in. As an example, maybe you decide you’re okay with having to go into the office a few times a week instead of being fully remote. Or maybe you have kids and know that you want to be fully remote no matter what, but you’re willing to take a small pay cut. Only you can decide on what you can and can’t compromise on.

Step 3:

Pull out your calendar or a piece of paper. Stop and decide what is the longest amount of time that you can comfortably go without a paycheck. Start with today’s date, and mark off the very last day you can go without that paycheck. Next, you’re going to use this in Step 4 to mark off four timeframes. They don’t have to be equal in size or duration - there just have to be four of them.

I can’t tell you how long this should be, because I don’t know the specifics of your situation. You know how much runway you have until you’re in “panic mode”, so only you can make this decision. Decide on what seems reasonable to you, based on many variables including

  • Your severance package (if any)

  • The state of your personal finances

  • Personal situation (i.e. family)

  • The market for your role

Step 4:

Reference the Compensation, Job Title and Responsibilities, and Location you decided on earlier in Step 1 and decide how long you’re going to give yourself to find your dream job based on those things. Maybe it’s two weeks. Maybe it’s a month. Again, only you know. When you’ve decided, put that first pin in the calendar on that date. That’s your first deadline.

Step 5:

If you don’t find your dream job within that first time frame, you’re going to look at your three requirements and your original ranking and drop the one ranked last - now you have two things you’ll be looking for in a new job. Maybe it’s a little longer this time or maybe it’s a little shorter, the decision is yours, just make sure that you stick to it. Whatever that day is, put the second pin in the calendar there. That’s your second deadline.

Step 6:

If you don’t find a job in that second time frame with your two remaining requirements, you’re going to drop the second one on your list. Now you have one thing you’re searching for in a new job. Again, decide how long you’re giving yourself to find a new job with that one remaining big thing on your list. Find the day on the calendar, and put a pin in it.

Step 7:

If you still aren’t able to find a job with that one remaining requirement on your list, unfortunately, you’re going to have to drop it. You have one last time frame - put your pin on the calendar on that very last day you determined earlier was the absolute last day that you could go without a paycheck coming in. Now, you just need a job. It definitely won’t be your dream job. It might not be what you wanted. But you have bills to pay, and you need a job to do that with. Before you get to the day on the calendar with that last pin, you need to have a job lined up.

When you’re finished, you’ll probably have something like this:

Step 8:

Hold yourself to the deadlines you created. As an executive with a “real job,” you're always working against a deadline. The presentation to the BOD almost always gets done in crunch time. Now you’re working with a deadline on this job, too - I’ve found that most executives prefer that. Now you have an actionable plan that you can accomplish.

I also want to caution you against taking the first job you get offered because you’re scared - this strategy works, and if you can follow it, the odds are that you’ll end up with an offer you can be genuinely excited about. And before you stop putting the pins on the calendar take a look at the duration between them. They do not have to be equal, again, only you know your current situation and this current job market is not ideal. That being said, most great companies will always have room for great talent.

If you’re looking for help with the best way to look for a job, we have another article coming up soon that will help you with that. The most important thing for this strategy is to set deadlines and make yourself stick to them. Remember - your new job is finding a job.

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