Handling a Layoff With Class Can Pay Long-term Dividends

Kathie Martin is a graduate of ASP, president of the Etiquette School of Birmingham and an exceptional writer.  

Martin’s article was featured in the August 12, 2011 Birmingham Business Journal.  This article has great advice and we wanted to pass it on to our readers. Hope you enjoy!

“Why? Why me?"

“These are perfectly natural questions to ask when you get the word that your job is being eliminated. If you’re lucky, you’ll be given notice two weeks or more in advance and an opportunity to job hunt while still at your desk. Too often, employers just give you a few minutes to clear out your things before you’re unceremoniously ushered out the door. You didn’t want it to end this way and, more often than not, your employer didn’t either. Yet in a down economy or an unplanned company crisis, executives are often forced to make difficult decisions – decisions that can have a serious effect on you and your family."

"In an all-out fight for your job, you could publicly question your employer’s actions, threaten to sue and begin posting questionable content on your Facebook page or Twitter account. Or you could break into uncontrollable sobbing and throw yourself on the boss’ mercy. If you want to land on your feet, however, you’ll do none of these things.”

“Because how you react to a layoff is critical to your future employability, you must treat a layoff professionally – the way you treat any other business decision with which you may not agree. Even if you had no inkling that a layoff was under consideration, it’s probably kept a few people up nights as the details were worked out. Just telling you that your job is ending is stressful and guilt-laden on its own. Show the company just what a class act you are by treating your last hours or days on the job with a positive attitude. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.”

“If coworkers suddenly treat you like Typhoid Mary, it’s not because they’re afraid they’ll be laid off if they associate with you. Understand that they feel uncomfortable about keeping their job while you lose yours and don’t know what to say. If they don’t come to you, go to them – not to talk about your leaving, but about anything else. They can help you locate other job opportunities, 'recommend' you on Facebook and lend a caring ear when you need it.”

“To avoid burning any bridges behind you, be cooperative with your boss and other members of management. Ask for a reference letter and be sure to fill him or her in on unfinished projects. In other words, make this easy for your boss. When things turn around, the company just might hire you back if you haven’t ruined your reputation with management. If you find yourself without any substantive work to do, avoid the temptation of quitting, which will negate your possibility of receiving unemployment compensation as you search for a new position. Instead, enjoy the break. Use the extra time to sniff out new opportunities and send out resumes."

"As you interview for new positions, be careful not to trash your former employer, even if tempted. Companies want to hire people whom they can trust to be loyal in difficult situations.”

“If you are laid off, know that help is available. A career counselor can help you focus on finding a job, helping you think things through, target your search and effectively market yourself.  Given the right circumstances, job availability and acting with exceptional class in difficult situations, the reward can be a new job and a stellar reputation as a true professional.”

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