How to Survive a Layoff


Surviving a Layoff was the phrase that I typed in Google search when I was laid off February 2015 from a local non-profit organization. Just like most people, when I was laid off I went through several emotions and questions in my mind. How am I going to pay my bills? What will people think? How do I tell my family and friends? How will I eat? What do I do next? I know these questions can be very scary, but I have good news: you will get through it. 

I used my layoff as an opportunity to get to know me and plan for my next opportunity. It was a perfect time to stop and evaluate where I was in my life and where I wanted to go. It was all about perspective. Think of your layoff as a transition to better things. Transition can be a dangerous time for individuals because we can make decisions out of emotions. These decisions can turn out good or bad. Look at this as time to work on the things that can help you become a better person professionally and personally. I developed some tips that can help you get through your transition that helped me.

1. Don’t rush. I know we all need money, but if you have the opportunity take the time to figure out what you want and develop a plan. Also, take time to sort through your emotions. Being laid off is much compared to a breakup or even a death. There are stages of grieve involved. Sort through your emotions, don’t ignore them. Find a mentor or someone you trust to talk it out.

2. Change your perspective. Sometimes we can have a “why me” attitude, but why not you? You have everything you need inside yourself to get through this. It’s where you place energy is often how your success is determined. Place your energy in rebuilding and moving forward with the faith of things will be greater and better.

3. Forgive yourself. Forgiveness is such a hard thing to do, but the hardest thing is to forgive yourself. See as people we tend to hold onto the mistakes and rehearse in our minds what we shoulda, coulda and woulda done. Well guess what? We can’t change the past, we can only learn from our mistakes and move forward. I had to simply forgive myself and move on. You don’t want to carry any bitterness from your past employer. Bitter does not look good on anyone.

4. You will live, but on a budget. Anyone who knows me, knows that I like fabulous things. I like fabulous homes, clothes, makeup, jewelry, food etc.  Yes, I had to do without my Starbucks Coffee, but it taught me a much deeper lesson about how I valued money. I learned to eat at home, shop at consignment shops, coupon, utilize the library, and simply form some discipline. As long as I was able to have a roof, water, and the necessities of life I was content. 

5. Don’t make permanent decisions in temporary situations. So last year I had some life changing things happen such as breakups and a layoff. I must say I was broken and disappointed with my life. I felt like I was losing and everything was changing. I took some amazing advice from my mentor. She told me not to make a permanent decision and a temporary situation. Slow down and think things through. One decision can change the course of your life. So be careful.

6. Stop holding on things that don’t matter. With being laid off you naturally have mixed emotions, but don’t hold on to that.  Release the anger and place your energy into your passion and your new career. Remember it’s all about perspective and moving forward to bigger and better.  Your job was what you did, not who you are.

7. Networking is key. Most job opportunities come from a relationship. Don’t be afraid to call some of the contacts you created for a lead. There is no harm in inviting someone to have coffee or lunch with you to talk about your career plans. Take this time to contact individuals that will have the most impact toward your path forward. When I went through my layoff, I made a list of people I wanted to reach out to and invited them to coffee or lunch. I got involved with local young professional organizations such as YNPN and met some amazing people. It was someone in YNPN that gave me a lead about my current job. I currently work in Marketing as a Community Outreach Specialist for a local Credit Union. YNPN played a critical part in helping me land my awesome job that I love. 

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Shana Lewis, M.A. is the Community Outreach Specialist for FAA Credit Union. She is responsible for marketing, business development and planning community events. Shana is a proud graduate of the University of Central Oklahoma, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and a Minor in Communications. She has a Master of Arts in Nonprofit Leadership from Oklahoma City University. Shana is involved with various chambers, Oklahoma City Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, and serves on the INTEGRIS African American Health Forum Planning Committee. Shana enjoys working in the community to provide resources that are beneficial for future advancement.