Yet another bit of advice on what to do when you're laid off
There's certainly no dearth of advice out there on what to do when you're laid off. Most of what I've seen is fine - if duh obvious: Create a résumé! Network! Use whatever outplacement services you're offered!
But there are a few crucial items that, at least in the articles I've seen, seem to be missing.
So I thought I'd fill in a few based-on-my-own experience blanks:
Google yourself: If you don't already know whether and if your name comes up, find out now. Any prospective employer - even anyone you line up for an "informational interview" - will do it. If you come up empty, do something about it - at minimum, get on LinkedIn. If you come up full - but full of awful, embarrassing stuff - check out BrandYourself: these guys may be able to help.
Stay out of online gripe rooms for disgruntled ex-employees: When I left Genuity, I signed up for an ex-employee list serve. Mostly, I wanted to check out the rumors that the lay-off class of May 2002 wasn't going to get their severance checks because of the company's impending bankruptcy. But I was assuming that, in general, there'd be useful information passed back and forth on it. Nothing could have been further from the reality.What was zipping around were a whole lot of venomous screed about management, conspiracy theories about how the lay-off selections were made, and incredibly depressing poor-me stories about folks who had been laid off the year before and were living in their parents' damp and mildewed basements...Stay away from these haunts. Misery loves company, but the level of misery in some of these places will just poison your brain.
Make lunch dates with employed friends (not at your former company): Who says there's no such thing as a free lunch? Call up old friends and set up a lunch get together. Nine times out of ten, they'll pay. Obviously, it would be really scroungy to keep going back to the same well - and fairness does dictate that, once you're back working, you spring for lunch for your unemployed pals. Still, it's a reasonable way to be able to go out to eat, without having to worry about eating into your miserable unemployment check. (It is not, however, without risk. There is some possibility that your employed friends are not aware of this practice.)
Avoid asking about/or listening to anything that has to do with office politics, stupid things happening at work, etc.: I worked for a small company called Softbridge for over nine years. To say I lived and breathed the place is an understatement. And then, I got dumped. More precisely, I was fired for getting into a knock-down, drag-out argument with my boss, the company's president, about how we were going to "position" the coming lay-offs at the post-lay-off all hands meeting. I earned my pink slip by throwing down this gauntlet: "You say what you're going to say, and I'll say what I'm going to say, and we'll see who they believe."
In any event, while I was still living and breathing Softbridge, I had gotten into the habit of having a first-thing-in-the-morning work re-hash/pre-hash session with my close friend and colleague George. I would be at work by 8, and George would call me on his commute in, and we'd talk shop.
The day after I got the heave-ho, George called me at home for his usual check in. As I started to listen to his (admittedly amusing) account of the prior day's events at Softbridge, a big, fat old 200-watt light bulb went off in my brain: I am no longer interested in this crap. It is no longer mine. And you know what, that light bulb was both illuminating and liberating. So I told George that, while I still wanted to be his friend, I no longer wanted to hear what any of the cast of characters at Softbridge was up to, other than the personal stuff like who had a baby.
Our friendship survived - and so did my psyche.
Truly, once you're out of place, you really don't want to get bogged down in the office minutiae. Sure, a day ago it was your lifeblood, but today: any scintilla of energy devoted to talking/thinking about the dumb memo that X sent, or the bogus thing Y did on the sales call, is a wasted erg.
Anyway, those are my ideas for those of you experiencing a lay off for the first time. And while I'm dealing out free advice, here are a couple of earlier posts on things to do if you're anticipating a lay-off. One practical, one not so (but probably more fun).