Kevin Kermes: How do you successfully bounce back from a layoff?

Olivia Gamber: Wow, yeah, this is a big one. This has come up several times this week. I know there’s a lot of companies going through some big layoffs right now, so it’s really, honestly, it’s hard to not take it personal, even though we all know it’s not a personal business decision. I think that’s the first step. There’s two reactions to a layoff that I’ve witnessed. There’s the person that just immediately doesn’t want to deal with it and they just want to charge ahead and immediately get another job and stick it to the old company. Then there’s the other person that’s just completely just in shock, and that was their identity. They were there over 10 years. That’s everything they know. Their whole network is in that company, so it’s a huge part of their life identity and they never saw it coming.

There’s two people there that, I think that react differently. Both I think are not ideal, because number one, you still have to cope with it and you have to let go of that baggage, because if you don’t it definitely will manifest in that next decision. Number two, you’ve got to take the time to reflect on what you want next. I think a lot of people are afraid to really do that self exploration, to figure out … Reframe the layoff as a positive. I know that sounds cheesy, but in many cases it actually is. It gives you the time and space and sometimes even, you’re lucky enough to have severance to get the time to really plan out your next move and be strategic about it and get that time and space to do that appropriately. That’s the way, I think reframing it and dealing with the negative emotions and getting in a place where you are no longer holding onto the past, because if you still are constantly thinking about it and talking about it and you feel anger towards it, you’re not going to be successful in the next move.

Kevin Kermes: No, I totally agree. There’s this Shakespeare quote where he said, “Things are neither good nor bad, thinking makes them so.”

Olivia Gamber: Exactly.

Kevin Kermes: I think it’s so appropriate for this, because this is your reality. If you’ve been laid off, it’s like fighting gravity. This is where you are, so your decision on how you approach it moving forward. Maybe it was fair and maybe it wasn’t. Honest to God, that doesn’t matter. You got plenty of time to figure that out later. The reality is where you are, what Olivia said, the point of taking stock. What I will say is, when you go to execute moving forward, one of the critical things is how you frame out those conversations that you’re having. By that I mean, if you are, again, continuing through this online application process, the front end initial conversation that you’re going to have is going to be with HR. Sometimes it’s not even HR, sometimes it’s a screener for HR.

We had this with a client recently that, it was framed out with a large regional consulting firm, and the conversation he was having was with one of the recruiters. Then I looked afterwards and he gave me the feedback of the conversation, which was very frustrating to him. He’s at a senior level, one step away from partner, and it said that this person was a screener. Well, all the screener is doing is going down a series of questions which, and here’s where I’m going with it. If you’ve been laid off, now you are defending your background. You’re defending why you left here, and think about how that made you feel versus leading with what you do well, identifying an organization and an individual inside an organization that’s suffering from the problems that you can solve, and having a conversation, a consultative conversation around what are their problems and discovering can you help them, and does it make sense to have a deeper conversation.

I will tell you from all of the people, particularly starting this company back in 2008 when there were a lot of layoffs, that simple reframing of starting conversations there versus defending the resume completely shifted how clients felt on a day to day basis, and that, I mean, you can imagine. The difference between, “Oh my God, I got to have one more conversation with somebody in HR whose just going to be picking, picking, picking at every decision I’ve made, versus talking to someone who is a peer or who I could help right now and talk to them about their problems.” You stand up a little bit taller, you feel stronger. We hear it in conversations with clients all the time. Where, if we walk them through it, explain what happened it’s, “Uh.” Now let’s talk about what you do really well. “Oh, well let me explain to you, I’ve done this here. I’ve done this for this company. I turned around this department.” Those are the conversations you want to have. You want to avoid the other conversations.

Olivia Gamber: It’s such a simple shift to not lead with the resume and lead with the conversation, but it’s such a difficult shift that we see so many people struggle to make.

Kevin Kermes: Yeah.