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How to Move Forward When You’ve Survived a Layoff

Topics: Career Advice
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Sometimes companies reorganize. And, that can be a very painful and difficult process even when you’re one of the lucky ones who has managed to keep their job.

If you’ve survived a big round of layoffs — or maybe even more than one round — you probably have a lot of thoughts and feelings to wade through. This kind of change can shift the way we see ourselves, the company and even our industry. But, there are some things you can do to move forward.

1. Know that this is a process that’s going to take time.

When a company reorganizes, it takes some real time for the dust to settle. You should anticipate this and be patient with yourself (and the company if you can muster it) throughout the process. There’s no sense in feeling frustrated or dismayed by the chaos. This is a difficult time for the company and it’s going to take a while for everything to settle down. Resign yourself to riding the tides for a little bit. It’ll be less painful than trying to fight against them.

2. Take care of yourself.

It’s essential that you take the time to manage your stress and take care of yourself during this difficult transition period. Be sure to spend time with the people you love. Do things that you enjoy and that relax you, outside of work. Get exercise, eat well, and get plenty of rest. It will help you cope with the extra professional challenges you’re dealing with right now.

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3. Be aware of your anger so that you can manage it.

It’s important that you take the time to understand how you feel about what happened with the layoffs. It’s possible that you feel angry because of what your colleagues went through, especially if some good friends lost their jobs. It’s okay to be angry about what happened without sharing your feelings inappropriately with the higher-ups. It doesn’t make you a bad friend if you move past this. It is important that you become aware of how you feel about what happened though, so that you can make a conscious decision about how to manage those feelings.

4. Keep your contacts.

Just as it won’t do you any favors to lash out at a boss after a layoff, there’s also no reason to burn bridges with the folks who left. You might be feeling a little uncomfortable about reaching out to them at first, but there’s nothing to fear. It’s perfectly all right to simply say that you feel awful about what happened and that you’ll miss working with them. If you’d like to stay in touch with some of the people who were let go, do so. You never know how your paths might intertwine further down the road.

5. Realign your priorities.

It’s quite likely that a lot has changed since your company’s reorganization. Your job responsibilities, and maybe even your job title, might be different. Be sure that you understand the new expectations. Meet with your boss to discuss your job and to define what success looks like in this role. Then, take the time to realign your priorities to meet this mark. After some time has passed and you’ve had some experience with the work, you can sit down with your boss again to work through any adjustments that might be needed.

A reorganization is challenging, but it’s also an opportunity. Embrace that spirit if and when you can. It will remind the company, and yourself, of why you survived the layoffs in the first place.

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