7 steps to bounce from the Layoff

Are you on the lay-off list in 2022 due to a possible recession & Inflation?

RBC says the recession is coming

Before we touch on how to bounce back after a layoff, let's touch on how to identify if your role will be eliminated soon. During year-end companies will be reevaluating the budget and headcount. The end of 2021 is a fiscal year for many companies. If the companies are impacted by pandemics, they will be looking to cut the cost. Employees are the overhead costs. Employers are most likely to revisit the roles, pay structure and headcounts in 2022. Bonuses are due after the fiscal year and if they exit the staff before the pay-out date, they save millions. Most terms and conditions on the job offer outline that to get perks employees need to be on the payroll.

Consumer prices in Canada are rising at their fastest annual pace in almost 20 years. Statistics Canada says the 4.7 percent rate is the highest since February 2003. The salary increase will impact the budget and overhead costs. Getting rid of the highest-paid employees might be on the to-do list. We could see similar roles advertised for lesser salaries after full-time staff are laid off. If you are on the contract, there is no obligation to keep you for next year. The company could put you on a temporary layoff as well and might call you back when things get better. The company is not running a charity, they are for profit. Look out for yourself and start planning!

There is no family at work, it is survival of the fittest

One day, I was working from home due to the cold, and I heard 9 people were let go by new management. My colleague in another province was let go, she was a new leader in our team. I reached out to several leadership teams including my boss to get some updates. My boss never replied. I heard roles were restructured and I wanted to find out where do I fit in. The next day, I was laid off after working for the same company for more than 12 years over the phone in 2 mins. My title was taken away in less than 60secs after working there for 12 years. Weeks later they sent my personal items through shipping. Business doesn't care about emotion. They are there to please the shareholders and make a profit, as simple as that. The sooner we get this the better. We need to move with the job search strategy.

Did I have a gut feeling of a layoff?

The competitor bought our company. I witnessed a mass layoff a few times, and every time we were told that was the last one. There were lots of restructuring. After the new management came in, I started to notice the clash with the old management. There were rumour mills and water cooler talk I ignored. There were lots of finger-pointing. I loved working with the leaders who were hired externally. I had a good relationship with the new leaders, and finally found my voice in meetings, but my boss was close to the old management team who were homegrown with multiple promotions, mostly the white boys club. I was trying to move to a different department or get out. I brought my concern to the senior leadership about why we don't need 3 managers in the same team. I had already trained my partner in the remote. At this time my team could function without my leadership. I was a high performer so they could never fire me with the cause. At first, they took me off some projects. My work was slow, I was not invited to prime meetings. At times, I was counting the timer to go home. I should have known their strategy. I was packaged out with severance. Best gift ever!

The person who broke the news to me later said that they couldn't find the right role outside of the department hence I ended up on the layoff list. Was it the truth? who cares! They took my title, not the skills.

I have seen lots of layoffs. These are the signs to watch for:

  • Is your company cutting the cost?

  • Is there a new acquisition/ merger?

  • Consultants are hired from outside to evaluate the operations

  • You see new management/ shuffle in the executive level

  • You are told to track the productivity

  • You are assigned the targets and closely monitored

  • Is there a hiring freeze?

  • Is there a salary freeze/ cut

  • Are you on the contract?

  • Do you need a sponsorship visa?

  • Are you a seasonal worker?

  • Are you recently hired?

  • Are you still on probation?

  • Is lay off based on seniority?

  • Do you have a partner who can do your job?

  • Are you not invited to meetings you should be invited for?

  • Does your boss take away the work from you?

  • Does your boss take credit for your work?

  • You used to be busy and now you are not busy at all

  • You are not copied on any emails

  • You are not part of the decision-making process anymore

  • You get told what to do

  • They don't want your input

  • It feels like you are talking to the wall

  • You aren't being heard in meetings

  • You feel no support from the manager

  • Your manager is documenting all the conversations and following up with emails

  • You are being micromanaged

  • You are not given a new task

  • Can your boss do your job after you are replaced?

  • Do you see lots of meetings happening behind the closed door?

  • Do you hear rumours of mergers or new management coming in?

  • Are you the highest-paid amongst your colleagues?

  • Do you get along with your boss?

  • Do you get along with new management?

  • Do you see someone else being trained for your role?

  • Have you been performance-managed?

  • How were you rated on the performance reviews?

  • Are you a fit for the company? ( employers use the "fit" and based on my experience it is related to your attitude)

  • Are you change resistance?

  • If you are tenure, were there any signs of ageism in the workplace?

  • Were tenure staff laid off previously, is that the trend?

Things to do right after lay off:

  • Get a lawyer to review the severance package before waiving your rights. Most companies do the bare minimum to meet the employment standard. You are leaving your hard-earned money on the table without researching

  • Severance package depends on the type of role, industries, age, province, years of employment, how long would it take you to bounce back and so many things. Use severance calculator

  • Go back to your job offer and revisit the terms and conditions, your lawyer needs to see the employment contracts

  • Heal completely before you want to go back to the workforce

  • Take care of finances by reaching out to banks for skip/ deferral/ amortization increases for a mortgage payment. Your mortgage already comes with these perks. If you have equity on the house and an up-to-date mortgage file, it would be easier to get approval.

  • Cut the cost, for example: if you own two cars, you can freeze insurance for one car and only use one car for a while. Never cancel the insurance as it will impact the insurance cost later

  • Register for Employment insurance benefits before the severance gets expired

What to do when you get laid off in Canada

7 steps to bounce back

Heal first

Take a break before looking to go back, if you can. How the lay-off was handled by the employer during the exit may sit on your mind for a while. A question like" why me" often comes up. It hit me after a couple of weeks. I backpacked and went to volunteer in a tribal village in Nepal for a few months. I had sponsored a few kids in one charitable foundation Laxmi Pratisthan. Foundation has a hostel for the marginal kids in remote, mountains on the top. It took me more than 7 hours of walking uphill. There was no road but jungles and cliffs. My body almost gave up but I wanted to see them. What helped me heal from the layoff was being with the marginal communities where they had no access to basic needs in mountains. The government school was close to the hostel, which is where I spent most of my days evaluating the education system. Later on, I went around to different areas and started speaking as a guest speaker in a private school. That kept me motivated after losing my fancy title. Give back your time in the community if you can. Go to the food bank and volunteer. It will make you feel good. Sometimes we need to look down to compare and if you have basic needs, you are the richest in million. You might be frustrated and sad to not have a routine. Talk to the folks who were once on the same boat. If your mental health is impacted, please get help from the therapist/ counsellor. You will still benefit from the severance, depending on when the severance expires. Use your spouse's insurance benefit if you are not covered. Sometimes you just need to talk to someone freely, this is where you choose to work with professionals. If you are not healed the bitterness comes up often during the interaction, especially during an interview.

Get legal advice

You will have a few days to come back and sign the waiver for accepting severance. Don't rush the process without researching. Many miss the large chunk of hard-earned money without negotiating. You are not an expert on employment laws. Have someone look into the terms and conditions of the severance package. There are lawyers who work on contingencies/hourly. Hire the right lawyer to represent you if you have been packaged out with a minimal severance. I have seen that many companies won't pay the year-end bonus if you are laid off as you are no longer employed. Job offers have terms starting that any bonus, and benefits are only payable if your employment is active. You got to have a lawyer review if you are entitled to the bonus. When you are on the company's payroll, you are technically an employee with all the benefits. Severance could be paid out in lump sum or just like a paycheck, there might be terms dictated with options. There might be a clawback on the severance such as if you go back to the workforce, they will forfeit all the benefits or portion of the salary. Employers might provide outplacement services of their choice that would help to bounce back. Usually, you have to start right after to take the services or they might give you for a limited period. You do have an option to negotiate the terms and maybe get a cash payment to hire your own career coach when you are ready. People heal differently, rushing the process without having a clear plan wouldn't be wise.

I have had clients who have negotiated to hire me instead of going to employer's outplacement agencies. Based on my personal experience, these agencies offer One Size Fits All group sessions which might not be beneficial for everyone. You own your career, not your employers. The Cash payment I have seen being negotiated starts from $2500 and it all depends on the type of role. Try to hire a personal coach who is flexible with your schedule and deals with customized 1:1 sessions.

Work on your marketing plan

Most folks I have worked closely with are laid off based on seniority. Unionized employees protect the tenure folks but let the new hire go. It depends on their collective bargaining agreement. The corporate world cut the cost from tenure employees who are making more salary than others. Employers who want to hire new employees at a lower wage will lay off seniors and executives.

Tenure folks who have been within the company and internally promoted based on the referral or their good work have a hard time bouncing back after a layoff. These types of career professionals never had to find work outside. Some career professionals are old school and not aware of the current job market. Tenure folks worked for one company for years, they haven't seen the trends outside. All of their networks are within the same company which makes it hard to find job leads after. They possibly never had to update their resume, network and go for interviews. The job market has changed. Ageism is real for tenure folks. I have always done this way mentality is a turn-off for employers. Gone are those days when you sell " I have 15 years of experience". Employers could see them as overqualified. Take a look at a few screening questions below before starting a job search which helped me get multiple offers after a layoff.

· Do you have a marketing plan?

· Are you Jack of all master of none?

· Have you identified your niche?

· Do you know the target market and industry?

· Do you have step by step guide on how to network?

· Have you researched the potential employer’s culture?

· Do you know the hard and soft skills required for the targeted role and are those skills transferable from back home?

· Do you know current trends to put on your resume?

· Do you have accomplishment stories examples for resumes and interviews?

· Have you learned the industry jargon and lingo used by the targeted company?

· Do you have digital footprints which showcase your personal brand?

· Do you have lists of events/ job fairs?

·Do you require an upgrade/ certifications?

Network with the right people

Communicate with an existing circle of networks. If you feel comfortable, make the announcement on social media i.e. on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc but with a strategy without bashing the ex-employer. Focus on what you learned, and express gratitude. I know you are bitter but hold on to those emotions and focus on what you have learned. I have been on that roller-coaster ride after a layoff. When posting content define your industry, roles and your expertise and you are available. The power of social media has unlimited reach. Gone are those days when networking is done with a business card. You need to reach out to decision-makers through social media. Research where your employers are hanging out on social media and the group. I used social media for branding after a lay-off and pivoted. People are going to ask you "what do you do" during networking. Be clear on the answer. Practice the elevator pitch. Focus on quality versus quantity when setting up the networking meetings. Repatch the previous relationship. Keep an eye out for your existing close network and reach out. There might be someone who knows someone. Check-in with them, listen, and when they ask you about updates, talk about your job search struggle but be clear on the targeted role. You should already have a targeted title, Industry, and pain you can solve. Ask for contacts "do you know anyone in xxx area, xxx company" "could you look out for xxx role if it gets posted internally in your company".

Close contacts: Are you on Facebook/ Twitter/ Instagram/ LinkedIn/ other social media with them?

  • Do they post pictures/ content?

  • Start engaging there with likes and comments, get their attention

  • Get to their inbox and start the conversation with examples: "happy holidays" "good to chat after many years" "how are you doing" "what's new" " kids have grown up, how old are they now" "are you still at the same place, where are you now" "I didn't realize you moved, when" " I noticed you got married, congrats, how did you meet" " congrats on the newborn, what is her name, why that name, who chose, what is the meaning behind that name".

  • Use the pictures/ post they posted to create conversations. Pay attention to what they post and show up on their feed!

The holiday season could be the best time to repatch the previous relationship & bond with colleagues/ bosses. They might have moved and your past colleagues might have a new network. Don't stop networking during the holiday season, it is the time to wish your old friends happy holidays and meet up in person/call them. Remember not everyone celebrates Christmas, therefore saying happy holidays is a safe way to reconnect. Get to know about their journey. Have an accountability group or friends you can trust, possibly the folks who are laid off too. Being in the same group could help you cope faster.

Job search networking tips for job seekers to connect with future hiring managers/ strangers

  1. Follow the targeted company’s social media account

  2. Set the google alerts for the companies

  3. Participate in their social media activities

  4. Check their media release and DEI page to understand the demographics

  5. Check the career page on LinkedIn which would have a video on employees and executives, reach out to them and tell them what you liked about their video

  6. Sign up for the newsletter to understand the inside information.

  7. Be visible on their company page, stand out with a valuable comment

  8. Comment and engage in the company’s social media page: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.

  9. Reach out to a person on social media to understand what it is like working within that company (treat this as an informational session online)

  10. Ask about the application process. When and where do the company post the job, and when do they normally hire?

  11. Join the groups where subject matter experts are hanging out

  12. Target the hidden job market in smaller companies, start-ups, consultancy etc. they might not post each job due to the recruiting cost

Copy this template for networking

Build personal branding

  • The best way to attract job leads is to get recruiters to come to you. Be active where employers are hanging out to look for people like you

  • Display your expertise on social media by sharing the pain your industry has been dealing with and how you have solved it in the past. Optimize your LinkedIn profile with a strategy.

  • Have relevant skills on your LinkedIn profile to end up on the recruiter's search. Engage in the comments of others and post relevant content based on your targeted roles. Check 4 P's of personal branding.

  • Connect with your future possible manager and take it offline by asking for an informational interview.

  • Volunteer in the organizations to fill the gap. Help those who are in the need of your expertise.

  • Find the mentors and mentees. Reach out for a speaking engagement. Upgrade and take a few courses based on your skillset.

Update the Resume, Cover letter, and marketing document

If you have worked in one company for many years, you might have missed out on current trends in the job search. What worked years ago might not work these days. Being up to date on the resume is critical to standing out. Gone are the objective statement on your resume. Toss that fluffy wording such as result-oriented, and detail-oriented from the resume. Provide evidence of your results. If you still have references available upon request, you are not up to date on the resume world. Recruiters and hiring managers focus on the checklist of what they want. A resume is not about what you are looking for, it should be about what employers are looking for. Career professionals might want to address the career break gap by adding volunteering work/ courses/ membership/side hustle.

Pick the right type of role, scan the job description and see if the job is targeted to specific types of career professionals. If you are a tenure career professional, it is easy to avoid the roles which are targeted to the youth before you start to feel age discrimination. Examples: "flexible" "fresh ideas" "work under pressure" "energetic" " multitasking" "on-call" "after-hour work" "travel required" "recent graduates" "maximum experience up to 5 years".

There is a much better way of writing a cover letter than templated ones, "to whom it may concern" which will get into dumping folders. Address the gaps and ageism concerns on the cover letter by showcasing the recent skills, courses, board membership, volunteering, mentorship, etc. Highlight the recent tools/technology that is in demand within your industry. I firmly believe in addressing the gap and ageism barrier prior to the interview. Nip it in the bud earlier.

The formula to write the cover letter is to catch the attention of the hiring manager who hires to solve their pain and address what you are not able to add to the Resume. A bad cover letter highlights your need not the company's needs and it is irrelevant to the job descriptions.

There are Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) like Taleo which scores the resumes based on keywords. Good employers would scan all of the resumes but we never know how their internal process is. It depends on the sense of urgency too. The majority of the employers use the ATS tool to save on the recruiting cost and streamline the hiring process, There are many ATS system that uses a filtering system to recruit the right candidates. Everyone uses the system in a different way, you can't beat those machines but please them by applying to the right role only. Recruiters could scan the resume manually but guess how much they will spend time on one resume if it doesn't have a clear branding. Please the ATS tool with the right formatting and pick the right job.

Watch out for the knock-out questions when applying online. If you don't meet the pre-screening requirement, you will be auto-rejected without recruiters even looking at the resume. Examples of possible knock-out questions when applying for a job. There are jobs that have mandatory requirements and are nice to have. Do you meet the mandatory requirement?

Don't shoot the shot without talking to the job poster/ hiring manager. F