Laid Off From Work? Here’s What You Should Do Next

You just lost your job. You may be devastated. You may be in denial. You may realize your work was toxic and be genuinely happy you never have to go back. Or you may not fully understand how you’re feeling.

Regardless of where your head’s at, it’s hard, and starting a job search can be even harder. Many people simply update their resume and apply for positions that look interesting. That’s one approach, but if you’re like most, you need to give yourself time to process the loss.

I’ve been in the exact spot you’re in now. I was laid off from an investment bank at a time when finance roles were hard to come by. Through personal experience, and through my work as a coach helping countless people find jobs, I’ve put together a timeline of how to handle that first week after layoffs.

DAY 1

The very first thing you should do after leaving the office is find someone to talk to. You probably won’t be in the mood to talk to everyone about your situation, but speaking with a close friend can help.

Once you’ve had the opportunity to vent, it’s time to start writing. I’m serious. Write about what just happened, how you’re feeling, how this impacts your plans, and what you might do going forward. The goal isn’t to come up with a game plan for what’s next. The goal is to capture the thoughts and emotions you’re experiencing so you won’t replay them over and over in your mind. Just write.

I recommend that every day during this period you spend at least 10 minutes journaling. Journaling consistently has been found to help people visit the doctor less, feel better, and have healthier immune function.

DAY 2

When I was unemployed, I spent days sitting on the couch. My wife would get home from work to find me in the exact spot as when she’d left in the morning.

Without the structure of a job, you’re likely to feel less productive and your well-being might suffer. That’s okay. But even if you’re not ready to start looking for work, there are other things you can do, including filing for unemployment benefits if you’re eligible. This was a step I didn’t take for a few months and I missed out on a lot of money. Don’t let that happen to you.

DAY 3

The next step is to update your resume. Depending on the condition it’s in, this may take more than a day. There are countless resources to help you here, but I’ve found The Muse to be particularly valuable.

Once you’ve updated your resume, I recommend sending it to several trusted friends or mentors for feedback. Know that resumes have evolved so you may get feedback that’s no longer relevant.

DAY 4

With your resume in good shape, let’s turn your attention to LinkedIn. Here are two articles I’ve written on how to get your profile looking amazing:

But seriously, if you’re not ready to go there yet, take another day or two.

DAY 5

Make a list of companies you’d absolutely love to work at. Start with a minimum of five, but no more than 15. Once you have this list, think about people you know at each company. LinkedIn’s a great tool to help with this as the company page will show the first and second degree connections you have at each one.

Starting with companies rather than just looking for openings will put you in the mind-set of pursuing opportunities that energize you, rather than looking for what’s available. Interestingly, most roles never get posted, and the majority of people find jobs through networking.

DAY 6

With your networking efforts underway, now you can start searching for positions. Depending on your industry, you may also find these niche job-search websites valuable.

Pro tip: Don’t forget to set up alerts on each site as this will automate a lot of your search, saving you both time and energy.

DAY 7

Make a list of 10 people you haven’t connected with in awhile and invite them to lunch or coffee. This may take you out of your comfort zone. Do it anyway.

Then, I strongly recommend sending an email to your network letting them know you’re looking. Head over to LinkedIn and click the “My Network” tab. In the top left, you’ll see your total number of connections. Select “See all.”

From this list, identify people who can help. Put them into two groups: those who’ll receive a personal note and those who’ll get a mass email. In your message, explain what you’re looking for and how they can help. The more specific you are, the better they’ll be able to help.

Final Thought

Everyone experiences layoffs differently. This is A LOT to do in your first week, so if you’re not ready to update your resume or your LinkedIn profile, that’s okay. Give yourself space. Get outside if you can. Spend time with loved ones. Read a book. Do things you enjoy that your work schedule didn’t allow. Then dive back in.

Losing your job is hard, and we all handle it in different ways. Give yourself the space you need. Be confident in how you’ve grown. You may even find a that’s better than the one you had before.

How Are You Complicit in Creating the Conditions You Say You Don’t Want? (Question of the Week)

This is a powerful question that helps us reframe the problems in front of us.

When we’re faced with challenging circumstances, it’s human nature to point the finger at others. Our boss is a jerk, our coworkers are to blame, The markets are awful, etc.

As long as we’re blaming others, we won’t take ownership. As long as our focus is outward, we won’t do the hard work of looking inward.

When we identify where we’ve been complicit and how we’ve contributed to the conditions we don’t want, we’re no longer an innocent bystander. We take ownership for our behavior. This allows us to see things clearly. We take our power back.

So I invite you to ask yourself this question: How have I been complicit in creating the conditions I say I don’t want?

Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It (Book Notes)

I recently finished reading the book Chatter, an excellent book on the power of positive and negative self talk. This topic is very relevant as much of my time spent with clients is helping them identify and overcome limiting beliefs. They want to break free from stories that have hold them back and no longer serve them. They need help moving forward.

Here are my two biggest lessons from the book: the power of journaling and using distance self-talk.

The Power of Journaling

Chatter author Ethan Kross writes:

Although journaling has surely been around nearly as long as the written word, it is only in the past few decades that research has begun to illuminate the psychological consolation it provides. Much of this work has been pioneered by the psychologist James Pennebaker.

Over the course of a long and distinguished career, he has shown that simply asking people to write about their most upsetting negative experiences for fifteen to twenty minutes—to create a narrative about what happened, if you will—leads them to feel better, visit the doctor less, and have healthier immune function. By focusing on our experiences from the perspective of a narrator who has to create a story, journaling creates distance from our experience. We feel less tied to it.

I’ve seen the power of journaling in my life and the lives of others. For example, my wife did a study abroad in Israel for four of the six months we were engaged. This period was really hard on me. Due to the time difference, there was never a good time for us to speak. And when we could speak, our time was limited as there was one phone for her classmates to share.

To say I didn’t handle this period well is an understatement. I’ll spare the details, but as the weeks went by, I grew anxious and depressed. I knew this was an incredible opportunity for her, but I started to resent her for being gone. I knew that if I didn’t pull myself together, I risked permanent damage to our relationship.

After discussing this with my dad, he invited me to journal. He told me that if I wrote down everything I was experiencing, every single day, I’d find the strength and peace I needed to get through this period. It worked. Journaling gave me a place to pour all my feelings, which allowed me to put a halt to the constant replay. Journaling helped me self regulate and see things more clearly.

When my clients are experiencing persistent negative feelings, I invite them to journal. They’ve seen similar benefits.

Using Distance Self-Talk

This was a new lesson for me. (Note that the author defines chatter as negative self-talk.)

The ability to “step back” from the echo chamber of our own minds so we can adopt a more objective perspective is an important tool for combating chatter. One way to create distance when you’re experiencing chatter involves language.

When you’re trying to work through a difficult experience, use your own name to coach yourself through a problem. Doing so is linked with less activation in brain networks associated with rumination and leads to improved performance under stress, wiser thinking, and less negative emotion.

Another way to think about your experience from a distanced perspective is to imagine what you would say to a friend experiencing the same problem as you. Think about the advice you’d give them and then apply it to yourself.

I love that Kross invites us to imagine what we might say to a friend experiencing the same challenge. I’ve found this approach effective with clients as we’re often harder on ourselves than those we care about, and it reframes the problem to be more solvable.

Overall, I thought Chatter was a great book that explores a topic we experience all the time but don’t talk about enough.

What Is Your Top Priority Today? (Question of the Week)

As a coach, I’ve found that if you don’t ask yourself the right questions, you’ll never get the right answers. 🤷‍♂️

So I’m trying something new. I’m calling it Question of the Week. Each week, for the next six weeks, I’ll make a video with a quick lesson and a question inviting you to self reflect or take action.

In this first one, I discuss priorities. This question has been a gamechanger for my clients and has helped them ruthlessly focus on what’s most important.

The reality is, you can’t do everything. But you can always do the most important thing.

I invite you to ask yourself every day, what is my top priority today?

You Always Have the Power to Choose

The last quarter of the Book of Alma is filled with a great war between groups of people who despise one another. Hundreds of years later, a man named Mormon summarizes the impact this war had on the people.

But behold, because of the exceedingly great length of the war between the Nephites and the Lamanites many had become hardened, because of the exceedingly great length of the war; and many were softened because of their afflictions, insomuch that they did humble themselves before God, even in the depth of humility.

Alma 62:41

Everyone experienced tragedy and loss. But not everyone responded the same way.

It’s easy to tell ourselves that no one has been through what we’ve been through. And if others had, they would be equally bitter or angry.

Possibly. But what I love about this passage is that these people went through the exact same thing. Some came out the other side of the war and chose hardness. They chose anger. They chose bitterness.

Others experienced the same war but chose an alternative mindset. They chose hope. They chose humility. They chose to focus on the good things in their life. It says that they were softened, which I interpret as being willing to learn and grow. They looked at their life and said, this was something really difficult I experienced. What can I learn? How can I grow from this?

We can’t control what happens to us, but we can always control how we respond.

Don’t give up your power to choose.

↗️ Want to Build Positive Momentum in Your Life? Celebrate Your Wins.

Here’s one simple practice that will create positive energy, grow self confidence, and build momentum in your life. 

Last month I sent my coaching clients Reflections and Actions, a doc that gave them a step-by-step approach to reflect on 2022 and set goals for 2023. Naturally, I completed the exercise myself. 

Of the five sections, the one that was most valuable was the first—celebrating wins from the year. I have a tendency to be self critical and focus on what needs to be improved. But this exercise filled me with gratitude and appreciation for the wins I was able to chalk up in 2022. 

A small 2022 win that turned out to be big was setting up an LLC for my coaching business. It was something that needed to be done but it was an administrative burden I kept putting it off. Setting up the LLC made my business real. It was a signal to myself that I was going pro.

When we celebrate our wins, even the small ones, we feel good about the progress we’ve made. When we feel better about ourselves, we’re more likely to take action. Taking positive action leads to more wins. And the more wins we accumulate, the more we want to keep winning. A virtuous cycle is created. 

It’s been said that most of us overestimate what we can do in a day but underestimate what we can do in a year. I’ve found a lot of truth in that.  

If you feel overwhelmed with what’s in front of you this year, or lack the energy to do what you need to do, close your laptop (or phone).

Pause. Breathe.

Look back on all the wins you had last year. Celebrate those wins. Notice how your energy shifts. Find a small win for today. Then build on that. 

I invite you to share in the comments: what was a win you had in 2022?

Don’t Be Your Authentic Self. Do This Instead.

I nominate authenticity as the single most damaging and self-limiting word that exists.

“I’m being my authentic self.” “I’m just trying to be authentic to who I am.” You hear it all the time.

The problem with authenticity is that it’s stagnant. It’s fixed. If we’re being genuinely authentic to ourselves, we’re committing to being the same person we were last year and the year before and the year before that. 

Do you really want to be authentic? Really? Or do you want to be the best version of yourself that you can be?

As an exec coach, I’m in the people growth business. Growth is really hard. It’s hard because it feels weird. It feels different. It’s uncomfortable. By definition, growth is inauthentic.

Growth is also hard because, over time, those around you expect you to act in a certain way. And they don’t always like it when you try to change. Some people flat out want your change efforts to fall short. They want to see you fail. Your change makes them uncomfortable.

This is why it’s so critical to surround yourself with people who will build you up. And in turn, you need to be the kind of person who builds up others. We all can do better at champion self improvement.

Real change requires acting differently. It’s easier to do what comes naturally. It’s easier to keep the same habits and beliefs. It’s easier to be authentic. But authenticity shuts down our growth. It limits our potential.

So, let’s rethink authenticity. Let’s stop glamorizing authenticity. Let’s focus not on being true to who we are today, but instead on being true to the person we can become.

Let’s focus on growth, not authenticity. Because growth is what we’re all really seeking in the end. 

How to Bounce Back After Getting Laid Off

Okay, let’s talk layoffs. But first…

This photo was taken in Summer 2008. It was my first day at Lehman Brothers and my wife took this right as I left for the office.

Two months later, Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy. I was out of a job. But then I wasn’t. Barclays acquired the U.S. team. I was saved.

Until I wasn’t.

On January 14, 2009, I was sitting at my desk when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned and was greeted by the head of my team. He asked me to swing by his office. I knew what that meant.

I sheepishly followed him, like a kid being escorted to the principal’s office, my heart pounding uncontrollably. He said a lot of words. I don’t remember many.

I went back to my desk and was told to call HR. They told me I had to leave the building immediately and I couldn’t talk to anyone. I had spent years taking all the “right” moves to land an investment banking job and it was over in an instant.

I couldn’t call my wife because my phone was taken from me. I drove to her office. We went on a walk. She cried. I told her everything was fine and I’d find a job in a few weeks.

I was wrong. It took more than four months. Not that long in the grand scheme of things, but an eternity to someone who’s full-time career was all of six months.

That period of unemployment was brutal. Self doubt. Rejection. Anger. Depression. I went through it all. It took years to recover from the setback.

In hindsight it was the best thing that could have happened to me. But those words ring hollow to someone getting kicked in the stomach.

To those who’ve been laid off recently, I feel for you. I’ve been there. It’s really hard. It may get harder.

I’ve written a lot about this topic. Here’s an article I wrote for The Muse that goes deeper: How to Bounce Back After You Lose Your Job (and Feel Like the World’s Ending)

I hope the piece brings you some comfort and support. You’re more than your job. You’ll bounce back stronger than ever.

(This was originally posted on LinkedIn)

Lessons From Zoom: How to Lead During a Company Crisis

This is a guest post by Derek Pando, the founder and CEO of Beeloo, whose mission is to give parents of young kids daily alternatives to screen time through printable crafts and activities.

It has been hard to look away with all the drama happening at Twitter the last few months. It is obvious that they have been in a full blown crisis now for months. I feel for Twitter employees and especially for all the leaders trying to help their teams while dealing with their own personal reactions to the difficulties at work. 

I know a little bit about what an ongoing crisis at work can feel like. I led international marketing at Zoom when the pandemic hit. From the outside, while it might have seemed that the pandemic was the best thing that could ever happen to Zoom, the pendulum always swings both ways. The attention and scrutiny from Zoom’s astronomical growth brought on many crises about privacy, security, relations with China and many more that threatened the company’s existence. 

At Zoom, we were lucky enough to have strong leaders. I watched, emulated and got advice from them as I tried to lead my own team through multiple back to back crises.

If you find yourself as a leader at work during a crisis, here are some of the things I learned that hopefully can serve as a cheat sheet for you on how to lead in a crisis. 

Be authentic. I remember Eric Yuan, Zoom’s CEO, addressing the company at an all-hands meeting one week when there were 100’s of negative headlines around the world about Zoom and acknowledging how difficult it was for him and the rest of the company. He did not try to act tough, ignore it or do anything other than express his authentic feelings. 

Empathy first. A company crisis can have cascading effects. It can impact an employee’s mental or physical health, their family situation or their financial situation. A crisis might also cause a dangerously high workload for employees. It’s best to always first take a breath before diving into what needs to be done  with your team to empathize with each employee as a human being, even when you’re in emergency mode. 

Help your team see beyond the job. At Zoom the crisis was so intense that one of my teammates was having severe stomach pains that were brought on by anxiety. I remember at one point he came to me a mess and I told him. “Listen, no matter what happens at Zoom, you will be successful and your future is bright.” He was young and early in his career, he was having trouble not projecting this moment onto his entire life. Sometimes as leaders at work, we have to help employees see beyond work. 

Be candid. This is tough as a leader as there might be sensitive topics, or you might be getting guidance from your company not to talk about certain issues. My advice is to use your personal judgment and push the limits to the side of candor. Most companies unfortunately will over index on trying to control too much information in a crisis, even when they have no actual chance of containing it among employees. Sharing as much as you can will build trust with your employees and help them feel confident that you are looking out for them.

If you’re in a crisis right now remember as difficult as it may be, this is a time to learn and grow as a leader. As the saying goes “smooth sea never made a skilled sailor”. Hang in there. You’ll make it through it and you’ll probably come out the other side a better leader. 

Three Timeless Truths Needed to Build a Great Career

Years ago I wrote a career development book. I’ve often told my kids I’d pay them $10 if they read it. My 9 year old recently decided to take me up on the offer. 

After reading it, he had a book report and needed to write 20 facts from the book. This picture is the list. He put it together 100% on his own and it cracked me up. 😂 

Some of them are funny. Yes, I did get called stupid. Yes, I had a blackberry (remember how cool those were?). Yes, Mike Robertson and I did carry a mattress on our head down Broadway for 20 blocks during our NYC internship. No comment on #13. 🤷

Others facts are timeless truths and I hope they stick with him:
1) Learning doesn’t stop when school ends
2) Networking is an important skill
3) Mentors can help you find a job and grow your career

What key lessons have you learned in your career? How are you sharing those with others?