If you've been laid off and you're looking for a new job, then this posting is for you. Looking for a new job after you have been laid off can be very stressful. Grief is not a state of mind that will make you a strong candidate for an opportunity - yet it's very normal to grieve when you lose your job. After all, there's been a lot of management buzz in the past 5 years about "employee engagement" and "talent retention" - companies have been working hard to motivate employees and encourage their commitment. Suddenly the language shifted in the last nine months. Now instead of talking about the human aspects of "commitment" and "retention", management has been talking about the sterile concepts of "reducing headcount" and "cutting costs." To the individual employee the shift in language can feel harsh and isolating - no wonder people experience grief when they are let go!
I know how it feels, because I have been laid off twice in my career and had to pull myself together and go out into the marketplace to find a new opportunity. I can honestly say that each time I have landed in a better place - but only after I sorted through my feelings about the layoff and was able to set aside the negative emotions and approach the marketplace with interest and optimism. It's so hard to meet a potential new boss and convince him/her that you are really excited about a new opportunity if you are still frustrated about losing your old job. Yet we all know that a hiring manager is going to be more attracted to candidates that are upbeat and positive. This quote by Jim Rohn sums up this imperative neatly:
"Don't bring your need to the marketplace, bring your skill. If you don't feel well, tell your doctor, but not the marketplace. If you need money, go to the bank, but not the marketplace."
It's hard to hide it from a new employer if you have been laid off from your prior role. However, it's up to you whether or not you come across as negative about the layoff, or as someone who has realistically absorbed the event and is moving forward. I've have interviewed candidates who are holding onto some frustration over having been laid off. They usually make it plain that they are only looking for a job because they were laid off from their prior position. Their frustration over the layoff typically sucks the positive energy out of the interview session and often prevents them from moving forward. On the other hand I have interviewed candidates who were laid off and are able to explain that they understand the circumstances that necessitated the layoffs, what they learned from the situation, and where they are hoping to go in the future.
If you can demonstrate that you learned something useful and you're looking toward the future, it is very attractive to employers. In fact, given the choice of two great, smart candidates - one who has been through a layoff, and one who never has - I will take the individual who has experienced the layoff because I respect that they have been able to bounce back from a tough situation.
So if you've been laid off, and you're looking for a new job don't despair. Talk to good friends and mentors who can help you cope, and then take your best most positive self out to the marketplace. Is this an unfair thing to ask of you? Possibly - but believe me, it's good advice! Look for a future posting with specific tips to help you recover.