Losing your job in a layoff is one of life's most significant challenges. However, like death and taxes, losing a job at some point in your life is inevitable.
You'll feel a lot of feelings when you're laid off, but one you don't have to feel is hopelessness. You will get a new job. In fact, according to a study by Jobvite, it will only take you about six weeks to do so, on average.
Does six weeks sound like a long time? Don't fret. Here's a layoff survival guide to help you get organized and quickly find the new job that you want:
1. Take a Minute (or a Week) to Process
Even if you saw the end coming, a layoff can be emotionally jarring. It's easy to be overwhelmed by the unknown, so give yourself a couple of days to regroup and recover. Then, make like Taylor Swift and shake it off!
Take some time to do things that make you feel good. Take a hike with a friend. Spend a day reading a book on the beach. Get a pedicure or a massage. Sleep in. Self-care at this stage is very important, as it will help you be your best self when you launch your job search.
Since you've been laid off, money might be tight, so it's a good idea to make a list of free or affordable activities you love to do. Take advantage of your newfound freedom. It won't last forever, and you'll be glad you enjoyed it.
2. Get the Paperwork Out of the Way
To add insult to injury, there are many incredibly important and somewhat stressful details to attend to after a layoff, including signing up for COBRA and registering for unemployment. Getting all of your paperwork ducks in a row will help keep you calm. Knowing that your healthcare is covered and understanding your monthly unemployment budget will help you focus on getting a new – and better – job.
3. Create a Script Explaining Your Layoff
Formulate a short speech that succinctly explains why you lost your job and what you hope to do next. This explanation should be brief, simple, and upbeat. Never dwell on the negatives or lament the problems caused by the layoffs. Keep things positive. You never know when you might be speaking to a potential employer.
Consider crafting a statement like this: "My company went through a major reorganization that resulted in layoffs. I'll miss my coworkers, but the silver lining is that now I'll be able to find a job in the nonprofit world, which has been my goal for the last several years."
Rehearse delivering your explanation until it feels natural. You'll use this script in both networking scenarios and job interviews, so it's important that it flows smoothly.
While you're at it, craft your elevator pitch – a 60-second explanation that sells your experience and credentials. You'll need this for networking and job interviews, too!
4. Update Your Resume
Whether you hope to find a job similar to the one you lost or plan to make a career change, a new resume is always in order after a layoff. Update your resume to include your most recent role, highlighting the skills you acquired and your most notable accomplishments. Wherever possible, include numbers in your resume to back up your accomplishments. For example:
- Top salesperson in the Northeast region, with $5M in sales in 2016.
- Spearheaded a website redesign that resulted in an increase of 200,000 unique page views in Q2.
Relevant data and figures will make your resume and cover letter more appealing to employers, thereby increasing your chance of getting an interview.
When writing your new and improved resume, don't forget the soft skills! While focusing on your hard skills and achievements is important, mentioning soft skills such as stellar customer service and oral communication can push you past your competition and into the interview chair.
5. Don't Forget the Cover Letter
While many job seekers dismiss the cover letter as a waste of time, you shouldn't believe the hype. Busy recruiters and hiring managers use cover letters to help them distinguish between similar candidates. If you and another jobseeker both earned marketing degrees from well-respected universities and went on to hold the same title at similar companies, whom will they pick to bring in for an interview? According to many recruiters, a well-written cover letter can be the tiebreaker between two otherwise similar candidates.
Don't make the mistake of merely rehashing your resume in your cover letter. A cover letter is intended to complement and expand upon your resume, not summarize it. That means you must provide unique details that paint a picture of what you'll bring to the table in your next role.
LiveCareer develops tools to help job seekers draft cover letters, prepare for interviews, and build targeted resumes via its resume builder and an extensive collection of resume examples.