First aid guide for the fired person


Paolo Kernahan

WONDERING what to do after getting laid off?

There are probably a few bottles of wine around the place that could use some attention. For abstainers, it’s always panic, one might suppose.

Naturally, being fired can be a terrifying experience. When you’re locked out of your work email account or lured into a poorly disguised “exit meeting,” it’s human to feel out of breath.

People who have been dumped by employers struggle with financial insecurity – home, car, children and the life that work has built threatens to collapse. The anxious are dying in the feverish labor market in which they have been pushed back. If you are in your mid-40s and beyond, these fears are amplified.

The suffocating fear of being fired is something I have more than passing acquaintance with. Early in my career as a television journalist, I was fired – twice.

Working for two closed TV stations a few years apart must have been a sort of cosmic convergence. There was no time to discern the grand design of blind cruelty. The bills were going up and I had a mouth to feed (mine).

Similar angst plays out in economies that are both brawny and anemic. In a post-pandemic world, economic uncertainty and market convulsions are driving job losses. Layoffs are spreading across the tech sector in the United States. About 17,000 workers have been sent home this year. There are worrying signs that the contagion of downsizing in tech is spreading to Canada.

This wave of job cuts is quite different from the bloodshed of the pandemic.

Today’s layoffs are attributed to slowing business growth, rising labor costs and the somewhat nebulous slogan of ‘changing economic conditions’.

Many “restructuring” companies admit to having overestimated growth projections. For those lucky enough to get respectable severance packages, the value of that package is perishable. Galloping inflation dilutes purchasing power. The parachutes that layoff companies distribute have holes. So there is no free time for contemplative languor among the newly unaffiliated.

One of the first things any unemployed person should do is an impartial audit of their expenses. Ruthlessly scythe through anything unnecessary. Entertainment subscriptions, for example, silently siphon off money you can’t spare right now.

The employees that Netflix let go have surely cut their Netflix subscriptions.

Restaurant meals should also be abolished in favor of home cooking. With gas prices skyrocketing, you should consider ditching the weekly trip to the mega-grocery. Instead, you can walk to neighborhood food stores with possibly better prices.

In your job search, seizing an opportunity outside your geographic area is rarely a first choice. Still, it’s worth exploring job opportunities in other countries even if you’re trying to find something closer to home. This approach isn’t for everyone, but if you don’t have family commitments, assignments in external markets could be a great way to get a fresh start.

There’s also remote work, with countless online advertisements for social media content managers, content creators, and virtual assistant gigs that could come in handy. If you’ve been laid off, you might also consider changing careers completely, doing something that deviates completely from your background and training.

Recently I read a post from someone who was cut from Tesla; a victim of the company’s anti-WFH policy. This former employee went from recruiting talent to training as a firefighter in addition to running a small business.

Then there’s this, starting a business.

Hanging a shingle in a downturn can feel like you’re sailing in a dead (or dreadful) wind. If, however, you measure market demand and develop a comprehensive marketing plan, starting your own business (with sufficient capitalization, of course) can be a rewarding next step.

With the wide availability of online learning resources, turning the core of an idea into a viable business is more convenient than ever.

Even if you haven’t been laid off, it makes sense to be prepared for any eventuality. Create an emergency fund and stay tuned for developments, good and bad, in your industry.

Labor markets are typically defined by convulsions interrupted by moments of relative calm.

In the haze of the moment, it is difficult to accept that there is life after the dismissal.

Getting there can be difficult and time consuming. It might not look like what you imagined. Think of it as an overhead step – just focus on putting one foot in front of the other. High winds will occasionally shake your resolve. However, you will eventually go through this experience.

About Maria Hunter

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