Laid Off? Do These 6 Things First

Posted by Kurt Rakos on 9/19/23 11:33 AM
Kurt Rakos
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What To Do When Layed Off

Even in our state’s sustained, historic low unemployment, a small wave of layoffs has been disrupting the lives of a growing number of Minnesotans. If it happens to you, take these 6 smart steps next.

According to the most recent report from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), state unemployment remains at 2.9%, hovering well below the nation’s average of 3.6%. But after our fifth straight month of labor force growth, bringing more talent into the pool, we are seeing the demand for candidates begin to ease up, if only modestly. Unfortunately for job seekers, another small but notable employment reality has begun creeping into the Twin Cities' economic picture: layoffs.

For months, it appeared that Minnesota might successfully dodge the waves of layoffs that began afflicting larger, coastal metros last year. In fact, it still seems likely that we’ll avoid anything like what those areas have experienced.

But that’s little comfort if you suddenly find yourself on the wrong end of a pink slip through no fault of your own.

As MPR’s Angela Davis noted in her recent podcast, layoffs at Wells Fargo, Allina, and 3M, among others, remind us, that although our state’s job market continues to be strong, “that doesn’t mean that everyone’s job is secure.”  If you’re facing a layoff – or even if you’re not, listen to the entire episode. Chris Farrell, MPR senior economics contributor provides critical context for today’s layoffs. Then the show dives into practical strategies on how to prepare for – thrive after – a layoff, shared by guests, Leah McNamee, senior program manager at HIRED, and Shelley Jensen-Decker, career counselor with Minnesota Job Partners.

As an executive recruiter, I’ve found myself in many conversations over the years with newly laid-off candidates. It’s a turning point that can lead to better opportunities and more satisfying careers. But it’s also a time of heightened vulnerability. It’s when candidates need more than a list of open positions and the emotional support of family and friends. They also need access to wise counsel. Frankly, I can usually tell the difference between those individuals who got – and followed – good advice, and those who (for whatever reasons), didn’t.

Here are the 6 things I wish everyone knew – before a layoff – to make the rebound faster and better.

Prioritize your personal well-being.

A layoff is a monumental disruption to how you’ll spend each day, to the team you once called your own, to the source of your income, and even to the way you have defined the “career part” of yourself. You’d be a robot if you didn’t have some intense feelings about these changes. It may sound obvious, but it’s critical that you take the time to acknowledge your own feelings, recognize that those feelings are temporary, and know that there will be a path forward. And tell people, starting with the people you trust the most. While you may feel like hiding under the covers and never telling a soul, that response is almost guaranteed to slow down your rebound.


Your network is your friend.

There are others, throughout the country, in the same career boat in which you now find yourself. Thanks to the proliferation of social media, they’re more accessible to you than ever. Begin with your existing networks, which may have layoff-focused sub-groups. Use LinkedIn to connect with anyone and everyone you know who might be able to be supportive as you work through your path forward. From there, broaden your online efforts, using search terms that include your industry, your role, “laid off,” and “networking.”


Expert assistance is out there and sometimes it’s free.

If your employer offered links or other contact information to career transition support in any form, grab it. Check it out. But don’t limit yourself to that. Conduct online searches using keywords and phrases including “layoff,” “just laid off,” your old job title, “job search support,” “career change” “career networking,” etc. Ask your network which experts were best for them. Connect with these people. Go into discussions with your own notes prepared and stay focused on how the role of these resources differs from that of a family member or a support network. Career experts won’t have the time – or the training – to talk through all of your feelings. Ask them what types of career counseling they provide, at what cost, and for what types of candidates. Ask what specific deliverables to expect, on what timelines, and what kinds of results they typically help candidates achieve. Finally, ask what will be expected from you.

Protect your finances.

Until you’re back on your feet and have clarity on your next move, be gentle on your bank account – and your credit cards. This can be tough if your ideal definition of “self-care” is to treat yourself with a little retail therapy or a string of spa experiences. Curb those impulses until you’ve created a budget that you know can sustain you for at least 3-6 months. This isn’t the time for splurging; it’s a time for counting, saving, and taking care of yourself in the long haul, not just in the moment.  

Understand your rights and options.

Before signing anything, including a severance package, get your own advice from a professional who is not affiliated with your employer. If you’re worried about the costs, contact the resources featured in the Angela Davis’ podcast to find out where you can get free advice. That professional will likely direct you NOT to sign anything until you have answers to questions that could well impact your longer-term well-being. These may include knowing your options for keeping your benefits, whether you recently took a medical or family leave, if you’re part of a legally protected class (including disability, race, age, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, or religion), how much notice you were given, and if you’re aware of how many people are being laid off by this employer. These factors might impact how you navigate severance or other matters.

Know the job market, including the current market value of your role.

Know the hiring trends in your role, industry, and geographic areas where you are, and don’t be afraid to branch out to new roles, industries, or places that might appeal to you. It’s never too early to get your resume into the hands of a respected executive recruiter. They know the real-time demand for someone with your abilities. 

At SkyWater Search Partners, we specialize in matching the right talent with the right employers. If you’re ready to start your search, reach out. We would love to know more about your interests, experience, and needs.

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