Career success

Everything You Should Know About Layoffs (And Career Breaks)


Uncertainty is the only certainty. That is the unsung song of life.


Layoffs, furloughs (temporary layoffs) or career breaks should be taken as matter of fact as you take a new job offer or a promotion. Things come, things go.


'This too shall pass'

That's the only attitude you to survive anything life throws at you.


Part 1: How to avoid being laid off


Basically, this is all common sense stuff.


- Do your job well, Go the extra mile when you can (and when people will notice)


- Let the bosses know you are doing you job well: Progress reports, updates, etc. Don't be invisible.


- Update your skills, learn new skills (scan the job roles in your industry- what are you missing? What the new skills?)


- Think like your boss: Step inside the boss's shoes. What is the boss worried about? What concerns the company? What is happening in the industry? What helps does the boss need? Most common boss concerns: reduce costs, increase revenues, improve or reposition a product or service.


- Take the extra responsibilities during the tough times at the company.


- Look for opportunities in other departments or projects, if things are not going well in your corner.


- Prolong / postpone the dreaded decision by offering to work for a lower salary.


- First thing to do when joining a new company: Are they laying off people? If the answer is yes, most of the time the case is, things are not fine, if if the company is okay, the high attrition rate spells trouble. Ask. Be in the know.


- Keep up with the basics: Update your resume, add some more useful people to your network, and so on.


Part 2: How to survive furloughs


Furloughs are lite version of layoffs. Companies use furloughs, aka 'temporary layoffs' to cut down on salary costs when times are hard. If you can't avoid these, here are some best practices to do okay during furloughs:


- Find out with HR if you are eligible for unemployment benefits (United State) during the furloughs.

- Cut down on unnecessary expenses: Does it even need detailing?

- If you company bunches furlough days, you can plan your expenses etc accordingly. Keep your furloughs and vacation days separate, if your company pays for vacations.

- Use the downtime to upskill: Learn some stuff that is all the rage in your industry, for example.

- Some even try out other niches (volunteers, etc) in the furlough period, learning more about other promising industries.


You are better off in you career when you don't consider furloughs as holidays.


Part 3: How To Survive Layoffs (or Any Kind Of Career Breaks)


When you are back at work after a career break


- It all depends upon how long you been away: Being away from active work for long means you may not be up to date with new stuff and skills in the industry. Day-do-day grind of a normal career will appear heavy after the break. You may be rusty.


- It will help your case if you update yourself with the latest policies (if you are back at your old company), technologies, and skills as quickly as possible. This way you are up to speed without giving yourself and other to rethink the decision. Hard work trumps any layoff or a gap.


- Do the work every day. Seek help. Be curious and enthusiastic. Soon, your confidence will be back.


- If you are coming to the same job, in the same company, you will have to extra vigilant and proactive: Your team may have a new leader and new members. They might have carried the extra load while you were gone. It is a tough job before things are back to a comfortable level. They will never be normal mainly because life doesn't stop for anyone. Just be tactful.


- If you were laid off because your job was shut down, find new areas in your niche.

Follow the basics: Upskill, try the new skill in small jobs (volunteer, side projects etc.), improve your professional all the good stuff and you will be back in the game, soon.


- Let go of 'chronological resume' and go for the 'functional resume': The 'chronological resume' lists your job in reverse chronological stye, and the career breaks are obvious here. Try out the “skills-based or “functional resume, focusing on your strengths and achievements in the industry. Show off your relevant skills, give example of how you succeeded using these skills. This way, the career breaks are hidden further on page two of resume.


- In a new job at a new company after the break: Hit the ground learning, planning and working. Understand quickly what is expected from you. Get an idea how you can bring value to the team, the boss and the company- three different things. Know people's agendas- colleagues, boss etc.


Know the pitfalls- what causes people to fail most in the new job. Learn all you can about the new job from the previous hire, or ask around, do research. In other words, get clarity ASAP.


After you have clarity on the important things, start making new connections.


And get on the job. Read the guide to 'new job survival' if you have to.


Forget about what happened at the previous job. Past is past. If past teaches something, well and good.


Regarding culture shock: We are not talking about shifting to a new company, after we have worked at some place for long. We are adults. We can handle this. What about how the people at the company, if they know about your long layoff? People will think what they want to. On your part, just be hard working, do not contain any negative feelings (about the people who laid you off) and have some diplomatic answers ready who are a little too inquisitive- 'Yes, my batting form had dipped of late, the coach had to let me go...I hope I am of value to you all here...'


Basically, ' Throw yourself into your work and have confidence that your performance and your personality will soon bring people around. '


Seven useful ways to handle gaps between jobs

Don't give the employer a chance to question any gap. Better to give an idea that you were always busy doing stuff, preferably career-related stuff.


A small list:


- Volunteer

- Start a small side business

- Teach (skills related to your area)

- Write (blog, articles, books, ebooks, etc)

- Social media ( good when you can't write long stuff): Find and post useful links and resources related to your area on Twitter, Linkedin etc.

- Network

- Part time jobs: Often, this helps you be sharp in your area. This also helps you explore an area you are interested in.


Thank you for reading.
This guide is from The Success Manual, which contains 200+ guides to succeeding in business, career and personal life.  Get the pdf ebook for $12 only.