Getting Back to Work after a Layoff or Termination

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Let’s be honest, to be affected by a reduction of force, restructuring or being let go for other reasons is a difficult experience to go through, there’s no denying it. When this type of event occurs, it’s helpful to keep in mind that while it can be jarring at first, you are most definitely not alone. Most people do experience something similar at some point in their careers. Some more than once.

There are things you can do that will reduce any period of unemployment and regain a sense of empowerment and control.

Rarely are we caught by complete surprise that change is in the air. When the warning signs appear, take action. Begin to manage the situation right then. If you’ve had a somewhat unfavorable performance review for example, reflect, take suggestions, start recommended training, and make changes as required. Perhaps termination can be avoided. It might also be a good time to look at other job opportunities outside your company.

If termination occurs, take stock of what you could have controlled. Consider what you were told about the reasons for your departure and what you could have done differently. We learn the most in challenging times and that’s actually a good thing wrapped up in a difficult set of circumstances. Learning from our mistakes makes us resilient. Being able to take the lesson and move on is a life skill that will reverberate throughout a person’s professional and personal life.

If there is talk of a layoff, sale or merger, take a few minutes to update your resume. If you end up going to the job market, you’ll be ready with this step completed.

Hopefully, you are in regular contact with your DW Simpson recruiter. If so, great! Give your recruiter a call and just get current with them. Let them know about your situation and take this time to learn what the present market is like for your area of expertise. Let them know you’d like to be kept informed of opportunities for which you could be a good fit. If you have had little or no contact with your recruiter in the past, now’s the time to connect and get acquainted.

If you are involuntarily leaving your current employer, regardless of the circumstances, consider those you’ve worked with who may be willing to provide a reference for you. Reach out to your managers, past and present, and any project team leaders you’ve worked with and ask them if they’d be willing to be a professional reference for you. It’s very helpful to be able to offer a prospective employer some references that can speak to the quality of your work.

One of the most difficult aspects of looking for your next role is what to say in an interview to address a termination or any lapse in employment. Be as transparent with your recruiter as you can about the circumstances. They have undoubtedly worked with professionals who have faced similar challenges with successful outcomes and can offer you the benefit of that experience.

Craft explanations that offer details, but don’t over-explain and don’t speak poorly about your previous employer in any way.

You’re going to be a bit nervous, so practice your responses to interview questions. Write them down a few times if this helps your memory. Your recruiter can help you by asking questions in a practice interview.

While a lay-off or employment termination can cause a person to pause, it’s important to regroup and begin a job search as quickly as possible. Extended unemployment can be a difficult hurdle to re-employment, although not insurmountable. It’s important to get started on your job search as soon as possible.

We all have our challenges and our stories. Being open, honest, willing (and eager) to learn from experience develops skills that are less tangible but equally valuable.  One day, you may be in a position to offer someone else the benefit of your experience, which will be very gratifying for you and helpful to others.


by Mimi Fritz, Manager, DW Simpson