7 steps to bounce from the Lay off for career professionals





Are you on the lay-off list in 2022 due to Covid-19?


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 out 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 cost. 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 the 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. The only reason they didn't do it the same day with other leaders was that I worked from home. They wanted me to come to work and break the news, but they chose to do it over the phone because I kept on messaging for the updates. My title was taken away in less than 60secs after working there for 12 years. Weeks later they sent my personal items through the 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.


Did I have a gut feeling of a layoff?


Our company was bought by the competitor. I witnessed a mass layoff a few times, every time we were told that was the last one. After the new management came in, I started to notice the clash with the old management. There were rumour mills and water cooler talk. There were lots of finger-pointing. My boss was close to the new management who fully supported the boys club. I was already having issues with the management style and toxic work environment. I was trying to move to a different department or get out. I brought my concern to the senior leadership why we don't need 3 managers in the same team. I had already trained my partner in the remote. I was the high performer so they could never fire me with the cause. I said either "get me out of here or package me out.". I was packaged out with the severance. Best gift ever!






I have seen lots of lay-offs. 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?

  • 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 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 increase 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







7 Steps to bounce back & recover after the layoff



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, mountain 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, that 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 have 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, 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 the job leads after. They possibly never had to update the 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 to 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 the 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, express gratitude. I know you are bitter but hold on to that 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 the 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 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 the 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 in 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, 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 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, 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 System (ATS) like Taleo who scores the resumes based on the 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 for 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 a mandatory requirement and are nice to have. Do you meet the mandatory requirement?

Don't shoot the shot without talking to the job poster/ hiring manager. Focus on the right role instead.

Examples of knock-out questions on job applications which get auto rejected if you don't meet the requirements.
Examples of knock-out questions on job applications


As per ladder, you have 7.4 seconds to make an impression, it could be true in some cases.








How to explain or add career Break/ employment gaps on LinkedIn & Resume with samples

Are employers normalizing career breaks?


LinkedIn now has a section under experience to address career breaks. There are hiring biases for having a career gap, you need to be strategic to avoid irrelevant information. Sometimes don't ask don't tell strategy works but are you prepared when they ask about the gap?


Career breaks are common, especially for women as per LinkedIn.

The majority of women (64%) have experienced a career break at some point in their career with top reasons including parental leave (22%), medical leave (17%) and mental health reasons (14%).


People want a better way to share more about their career break

  • 64% of people wish there was a way to positively represent career breaks to hirers and 52% of hiring managers believe candidates should proactively bring up their career break during the interview and highlight what they learned during that time.

  • 48% of hirers think the biggest mistake candidates make when discussing their career breaks is undervaluing themselves in terms of compensation or seniority of role.

  • When it comes to applying lessons learned from a career break at work, 74% of people who have taken a career break believe employers valued the skills they gained. And hiring managers agree, 50% of hiring managers believe people returning from a career break have often gained valuable soft skills and 46% believe candidates undersell them.



Employers' main concern might be what you have been doing during employment gaps. Have the stories related to the company's vision, or directly relating to competencies. Focus on lessons learned during the employment gaps.


Practice the interview session before you start to blurt out too much detail. Stay on the topic to avoid biases and discrimination. Less is more but always be prepared to handle the questions about the career gap. Read my article posted on Forbes which has a few strategies on addressing career break.


Adding the cover letter to explain the gap might help recruiters not assume the worst.




I was interviewed by Globel And Mail for Red flags on the Job Postings. Check the wording on job postings. The video below had a few points for ageism. Check out 7 steps to fight back on ageism.




Interview preparation


A resume's job is to get to interview but doesn't guarantee the job offers. Those who were laid-off and had 10-30 years of experience under their belt could deal with ageism. There are biases in the workforce in hiring tenure folks. Tenure career professionals are known to be expensive. During phone screening, be clear on the salary expectation when they ask. Know your worth by researching. You can't avoid bad apples in the hiring industry but choose to work on the job search strategy. Check out the company's career page and see the type of demographics in the workforce. Do you feel a sense of belonging?.


Older generations have a lot to learn from the new generations, be teachable and coachable. Get a mentor who is really good at skills you are lacking that apply to the targeted role. We tend to think that mentors should be someone who is older than us. Try seeking younger mentors within your industry. Your future boss could be Gen X and Millenials, you need to be coachable. Your white hair and wrinkle display years of experience, some of you might try to hide those assets. Grooming helps to feel confident, do what makes you feel good. If you try to hide your physical appearance but do not adjust your attitude, you might have a hard time bouncing back to the workforce. Being humble and willing to learn is another trait the older generation needs to self-reflect. We have always done this way and has worked type of attitude will ruin the branding. Be sure to highlight the accomplishment rather than boasting about years of experience to avoid over-qualified rejection. I felt ageism in the late '30s. I had to adjust my mindset and work on the area of opportunities before bouncing back after the lay-off. Most interviewers were younger than me, the workforce has a younger demographic in my industry. To be forever employable, you need to have the right attitude of not looking down on the younger generation. Ageism goes both ways, a younger people can be an expert, value their opinion.


Tell me about yourself could be a trap interview questions


When asked about your experience instead of leading with I have 10 years of experience, use the tactics of commercials we see on TV on "tell me about yourself" interview questions. If you could pick one pain point on tell me about yourself and say “why you can solve their ongoing problem.” it hits the hiring manager’s head. Have them at hello “I understand that your customer satisfaction survey was only 60% last year. I have a formula on how to get that higher based on my past experience. I have saved xxx for my previous company” dare to show quantifiable data. Try to understand their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) first. You need to be aligned with their vision. You could ask during the interview right after tell me about yourself, " could you share KPIs for this role". This strategy helps you not to assume their KPIs. Asking questions during the interview initially helps with smooth conversation. You don't have to wait until the last minute to ask questions.


To tell me about yourself you could strategically say the role was eliminated without them asking you. Nip it in the bud earlier on. You don't want to keep them guessing, be proactive but strategically. If it was the mass lay-off, then say it. "due to new management/ restructuring, my role along with the other 9 roles was eliminated but here is what I have accomplished from the previous role. You have just shifted the whole attention from you to the mass lay-off which you had no control over. Employers are trying to gauge if you are the right fit at this point. This is where healing comes in, if you are tempted to talk about bad bosses, toxic culture, stop right there. Stay under 30 secs and move on. Focus on why you are applying for the role rather than why you were let go by your previous employer. The interview is where you bring the accomplishments with evidence. There is a thin line between being overconfident and being arrogant. Avoid the " I know it all" type of comment. Practice the interview based on the job descriptions. Remember you are an expert as a seasoned professional, not a jack of all.






Companies are emerging with one-way AI interviews before you get to recruiters/ hiring managers. Practice on the camera, record yourself. LinkedIn has a free interview prep tool, use it. Check the body language. Set the timer for the answer as there might not be an option for a retake. Test the tools and technology in advance. Tenure folks are perceived as not being tech-savvy, this is where you need to practice by testing the tools. Employers are moving towards virtual interviews, you do not want to show up unprepared. Know the format of the interview in advance by going to the glassdoor or company's career page.