Blog | Kadima Careers

How to Turn Your Layoff Into a Payoff

Multiple companies are laying off thousands of employees in 2023. Household names – like Amazon, Microsoft, and Salesforce – are cutting up to 10% of their human resources.

Are you one of the people waiting to get tapped on the shoulder by the Corporate Grim Reaper? If you’re waiting and worrying, you’re wasting your time. Massive corporations are still growing, and you should be taking control of your career instead of anticipating a pink slip.

“Always Be Looking” is a mentality that can revolutionize your career. It is how you can switch from facing unemployment for months to weeks or even hours. You can turn layoffs into eventual payoffs if you have things lined up.

Check out The Syck Career Podcast Episode 54: What Are WARN Notices and Why They Matter for more information about layoffs.

Key takeaways

  • The WARN Act requires certain employers to provide ample notice of layoffs to affected employees.
  • You can future-proof your career by remaining open to job prospects and acting as a free agent. 
  • Get your head in the game and apply for jobs before you face a permanent or temporary layoff.
  • Networking and contacting “weak ties” can improve your job search and acquisition efforts.

Why are Massive Layoffs Happening?

A layoff notice is terrible, but they’re also common. Only 12% of Americans have never been laid off and have no fears of experiencing a discharge. Most employment opportunities are at-will, and you should prepare for involuntary separations.

The coronavirus shifted how we work and what we need from businesses. Lockdowns kept people at home, watching their screens and ordering delivery. So, companies hired quickly to meet the new demand.

For provisional growth, corporations typically hire contract employees from overseas. But they couldn’t because they were also on lockdown. Consequently, businesses hired full-time employees.

But now, people leave their homes, travel, and attend restaurants and concerts. Screen time is still high, but it is down. So, corporations are course-correcting.

Some might suggest that companies overestimated the demand, but they were simply meeting it at the time. Additionally, they had no idea when the pandemic would end and what the “new normal” would be.

What Do These Layoffs Mean?

Workers who remember the dot-com bubble fear its return. But bubbles are inherent in any industry, not just tech. It’s a herd mentality.

Despite hearing “10,000 employees laid off,” these corporations are still growing. Companies with the highest layoffs still had a net positive headcount than the prior year. Here are some examples:

  • Amazon laid off 18,000 workers but still had 58,000 more employers this past quarter than last year.
  • Microsoft let go of 10,000 employees but still had a net increase of 30,000 than one year ago.
  • Google laid off 12,000 individuals but had nearly 25,000 more employees than the year before.

It’s important to emphasize the realistic results because people say the economy is in the “pooper.” Even though one side of the numbers looks bad at face value, they’re not collapsing in the grand scheme. It’s all about context.

How Safe Is Your Job?

There’s no easy to say this – actually, there is – no, your job is not safe. Job security is a myth. It never actually existed.

The recent layoffs are your tip-off even if you don’t work at one of these businesses. Almost all employment is at will. Your employer can terminate you for any reason and at any time.

Further, companies face no ramifications for layoffs in this country. Other countries have employee protections, but Americans do not have these legal reassurances. In fact, corporations’ value – their stock prices – increase when they lay employees off.

Layoff Meaning: How the WARN Act Protects Employees

The WARN Act, also known as the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, is a US federal law that requires employers with 100 or more employees to provide at least 60 days' notice to affected employees in advance of a plant closing or mass layoff.

The law was enacted in 1988 and is intended to provide employees with sufficient time to prepare for the transition and seek alternative employment or training opportunities. The act also requires employers to provide notice to the appropriate state or local government agencies, such as the state's dislocated worker unit, and to any union representing the affected employees.

There are specific rules about the timing and content of the notice that must be given. Failure to comply with the WARN Act can result in significant penalties for employers, including back pay and benefits for affected employees.

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How to Future-Proof Your Career

This is a wake-up call. You are a free agent. You should Own Your Career and Always Be Looking for your next opportunity.

Expand your aperture by looking at more companies. Cast a wider net when it comes to future employers. You might experience a culture shock switching from Amazon to American Express when it comes to the hierarchy and speed, but there are good reasons to work for them, including:

  • Employees are generally treated well.
  • Good benefits.
  • They encourage career growth.
  • They pay high salaries.
  • The severance packages are really nice.

Dealing With the Layoff Process: Setting Your Mindset

First, take time to process. It’s natural to feel down about losing your job but empower yourself to withstand it. You can bounce back and take the next steps.

Complain for a few days. Cry, drink, or talk to your therapist, and get past it. Put your mindset in the right place. Don’t let limiting beliefs hinder your ability to accelerate your career.

Limiting belief is a state of mind or belief about yourself that restricts you in some way. These beliefs are often false accusations you make about yourself that can cause several negative results.

These are things that you say to yourself in your head:

  • Which impact your thoughts,
  • Which then affects your feelings,
  • Which then influences your actions.

There are productive things that you can be doing and telling yourself. A positive and proactive mindset will push you in the right direction. You may be down, but you’re not going to be for a very long time. You must own your career because no one else will.

Getting Started on Finding Your Next Job Opportunities

Plan your next move, and don’t wait to look for a job. You must look for your next opportunity even if you are currently employed.

And you certainly shouldn’t wait until after the holidays or some other practiced milestone to take control of your situation. Don’t prevent yourself from applying and taking the right action to get the job you're seeking.

Here is the 40/30/20/10/5 action plan:

  • Develop a list of at least 40 target organizations where you want to work.
  • Reach out to at least 30 people per week.
  • Have 20 “Star Stories.” Star Stories answers behavioral-based interview questions like, “Tell me about a time when you had a difficult co-worker.”
  • Get at least 10 applications weekly.
  • Set up at least 5 interviews per week.

Good, high-paying jobs don’t come from just a LinkedIn post or changing the ring around your photo. It comes from hard work. And if you are willing to work hard, you can follow the blueprint of what you need to do to get a great job fast.

Revealing Your Job Search Status Correctly

Although LinkedIn is an excellent platform for finding your next opportunity, you don’t need to tell 900 million people that you’re looking. Instead, you can tell a smaller subset of people who will actually hire you, like recruiters and other decision-makers.

  • Don’t try the “message in a bottle” approach. This method is when you post about your job layoff, hoping someone gets it. Telling the world you’ve been laid off elicits pity and sympathy but rarely results in a good job.
  • Don’t send unsolicited work to others. Don’t send direct messages like, “I see you work for [company name]. Here’s my résumé. Can you hire me?” People will not take the time to look at your CV when they didn’t ask for it, especially if they’re not hiring.

There are much better ways to send out flares in a targeted way to get the attention you’re seeking. Find the people who can get you into the places you want to work.

You must build new and strengthen existing relationships to leverage LinkedIn and your contacts. Reach out to others in an authentic, humble, and generous manner.

Tell Select People You are Job-Searching

On LinkedIn, set your profile to open to work for recruiters only. Only those using LinkedIn Recruiter can see your updated status. And the platform prevents recruiters at your current company from seeing your shared career interests.

Thanks to Adam Grant and a short experiment, I’ve re-thought my position on the “Green Circle of Desperation,” known as the #OpenToWork profile photo frame. In a period of high layoffs, this ring is a green flag for recruiters that waves them down with your intentions.

Your Network is Your Net Worth

You can find and build relationships effectively to help you get where you’re trying to go. LinkedIn will tell you who of their users work at an organization. With that information, you can chart a path to start talking to them.

Export your LinkedIn connections to work with your weak ties. Upload the contact information into a spreadsheet (Excel or Google Sheets) to look through them. You may not remember how you know all of them, but you can re-establish the ones you do.

Here is a list of books to make you a better networker:

  • Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi
  • Give and Take by Adam Grant
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Networking your relationships will create value and opportunity. Unlike the unsolicited-work and message-in-a-bottle approaches, people enjoy helping those with whom they have a rapport.

What Not to Do: Elicit Empathy & Sit Idle

Don’t air your dirty laundry. You don’t need to share why you separated from your job, especially on a public forum. Most people won’t push for the reason, and if they do, keep it vague. However, you can tell an asking recruiter or hiring manager about being part of a well-known reduction in force (RIF).

I am a career accelerator. I work for the job candidate. Kadima Careers is for people who really want to be efficient and effective at landing a better job with significantly more money.

There’s no magic. You must follow the accountability tricks and tools.

If you want to learn more about Kadima's solutions to accelerate your career, click here.

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