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What to Do if Laid Off? Eight Tips to Bounce Back and End Up Stronger


In January 2009, 598,000 more people lost their jobs, bringing the unemployment rate up to 7.6 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics. The latest job losses “were large and widespread across nearly all major industry sectors,” BLS reported.

The first thing you should do after a layoff? Nothing. Take a day or two to regroup and collect your thoughts … but then get back into action.

Upon first losing your job, you can expect to experience an onslaught of emotions similar to the stages of grief. According to AARP, in fact, many people will feel (not necessarily in this order):

  • Shock
  • Denial
  • Anger

Fear and depression are also common, but ultimately you’ll move toward the feeling of acceptance, which is the mindset you need to be able to move onward and upward.

"The classic advice after a layoff is to avoid rushing into a new job and to take time evaluating your options," Emily Hause, an assistant psychology professor of industrial psychology at St. Mary's College in Moraga, Calif., tells AARP. "But, given the economic climate and the magnitude of layoffs, you'll want to get to Stage 5 [acceptance] as soon as you can."

So how can you get to this point?

Eight Tips to Bounce Back

  1. Manage your fears. One of the biggest hindrances to job seekers is fear, fear of your financial situation, fear of failing, and so on. Falling into this mindset can do major damage to your self-esteem -- the last thing you need when you’re looking for work. To help manage your fears, let go of your negative thoughts and instead focus on all you have to offer.

Looking for Work? Conquer Your Stress With “Staying Healthy in a Stressful World”

This complete training program CD will allow you to:

  • Identify the Three Major Sources of Stress and embark on a practice for transforming your stress into life-enhancing experiences.
  • Choose from a menu of 14 Short Mental Imagery Exercises for addressing such stressors as anger, anxiety, disappointment, guilt, regret, sadness, decision-making and more.
  • Learn and practice the Physical Stress Buster series, designed for use right at your desk.
  • Use the Mind-Body Progressive Relaxation to shift gears, replenish your energy, and increase your vitality and clarity of mind.

Read More & Order Now!

  1. Take time to regroup. Immediately after a layoff, take a day or two to let it sink in before you develop your plan of action. Your body and mind need time to absorb the shock and begin the transition.
  1. Don’t take it personally. According to University of Washington psychologist Jonathon Brown, if you lack self-esteem you may over-generalize your failures and conclude that you are less competent than others. However, the best way to build your self-esteem is to pick yourself up after you have fallen down. So if you’ve been laid off, embrace it. Turn your job loss into a positive by figuring out where you went wrong, then applying what you learned to your next endeavor.
  1. Resist the urge to sleep in. Lingering in bed to watch daytime talk shows will not do wonders for your morale. Instead, get up in the morning as you normally would, take a brisk walk or do some stretching (if you’ve got 15 minutes, you can do Jacques Gauthier's highly recommended Stretching Toward a Healthier Life DVD), then get ready to make the most of your day.
  1. Update your resume and possibly your skills. If it’s been awhile since you’ve been in the market for a job, make sure your resume is up to date. You may also need to enroll in some continuing education courses or seminars to give yourself an edge over the competition.
  1. Become a standout in your industry. “To establish this kind of credibility and enhance your network of contacts, consider joining a professional organization, publishing a blog relevant to your career goals, or offering your expertise to the media. In turn, you'll enhance your brand, which will have a long-lasting impact on your future career success,” Selena Dehne, a career writer for JIST Publishing, suggests on
  1. Stay active. This refers to both on a career front, such as attending career fairs and networking events, and also on a personal level. Regular exercise and activities such as volunteering will help keep your mental energy at its peak.
  1. Consider starting your own business. For many becoming an entrepreneur turns out to be more steady, more secure and wildly more rewarding than working for someone else.

Recommended Reading

Seven Things NOT to Do When Leaving Your Job (No Matter How Tempted You Are)

Unemployment Rates are Skyrocketing: How to Find a Recession-Proof Job You Actually Love


ABC News February 17, 2009

Bureau of Labor Statistics February 6, 2009

ABC News February 2, 2009  How to Cope With Job Loss

AARP Bulletin Today December 22, 2008 5 Post-Layoff Tips

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