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Career Advice: How To Cope With Layoffs
by Ramon Greenwood

Layoffs and the dire condition of the economy in the United States make headlines in the news media every day.

But those reports do not take into full account the collateral damage caused among family, friends and co-workers of those who have lost their jobs.

Those who survive are left to cope with a number of emotions: grieving for those who have been put out of work; worry about the increased work load to pick up the slack; resentment and anger at those who fired people; and outright fear that they may be the next on the chopping block.

It is very difficult dealing with these deep feelings. But deal with them survivors must if they want to achieve career success.

Helpful Career Advice For Coping

Career coaches provide helpful advice on coping with the situation.

It is good for your peace of mind to realize that no one is happy about layoffs. The boss is dealing with some of the same issues that you and your colleagues are. Unless the boss is an outright sociopath he is not going to be happy firing people.

It is all right to discuss the situation with your associates. In fact, it can be helpful as long as the discussion remains constructive. But do not--repeat, do not--let the discussions drift into finger pointing and criticism. It's counter productive to gripe about the situation. Besides, your griping is likely to get back to the boss. You don't want to be tagged as a malcontent in these shaky times.

You owe it to your family and friends to share your fears and worries. Keeping these emotions bottled up inside you is destructive. Besides, it is not fair to those who are affected by your fortunes if you suffer in silence.

Burnish your reputation for working hard. Document your accomplishments and make sure your employer is aware of your good work

Take On Extra Duties

It's not a good idea to say "no" if you are asked to take on extra duties to fill the void left by firings. Don't complain if you are asked to come in early and stay late. In fact, it's a good idea to volunteer to for special assignments.

Chances are everyone's workload is being increased. If you are assigned more work than you can handle, ask for a review with your boss; not to complain, but to see if you can prioritize your duties. Find out if it is possible to drop or reassign some of your tasks that may not be of great urgency. Suggest ways to improve your performance and that of your department, particularly if those changes reduce costs.

Learn New Career Skills

Learn new skills that will increase your value to your employer and enhance your chances of landing another job if you are let go.

Naturally, you want to know if more lay offs are coming. But even the boss may not know, or if he does, he probably will not be allowed to spread the news.

Be on the alert for any news that is available regarding what's going on with your job, your department and your industry.

Stay ready to go on with your career if you are fired. Keep your resume up to date. Renew your network of contacts and references.

Accept the fact that beyond a certain point the future of your job will be powerfully impacted by forces beyond your control. Try not to obsess about it. Hang tough. These trying times will pass, and a new world of opportunity will emerge.

To get more common sense advice on how to accelerate your career, sign up at for a free subscription to Ramon Greenwood's widely read e-newsletter and participate in his blog. He coaches from a successful career as Senior VP at American Express, author of career-related books, and a senior executive/consultant in Fortune 500 companies.



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