Layoff and triumph are not two words that we normally associate together. Usually, the word “layoff” is associated with failure, a lack of success, fear, and insecurity.  A layoff happens when management has failed to anticipate the direction of the industry, the strength of the competition, or the requirements of customers and must brutally reduce the organization’s size and cost in order to survive as a company.


In my opinion, this is critical to realize that a layoff occurs because management has failed and not the worker who was laid off. It is equally true the worker without the job bears the impact, but it is also the worker without the job that has the most to gain from the layoff.


Workers who have been laid off need to follow these steps in order to help create a personal triumph from a situation that they could not control.


  1. Get mad & get over it! A layoff notice from a company that you have supported, sacrificed, and delivered contributions is devastating. You should be mad, disappointed, shocked, and upset. Give yourself a week and then get over it. One week and then be done. Don’t bad mouth the company, don’t hate your boss, and just be done with that chapter in your life.

  2. Distractions out & fitness in. The threat of alcohol, the TV, M*A*S*H re-runs can all be very distracting from your job search and career revitalization. If you can’t say no, then remove it from your living space. Disconnecting your cable never killed anyone and that goes the same with locking up the alcohol. Replace these distractions with exercising, nature walks, and pushups. Exercise can be the number one stress relief as well as great for your personal energy.

  3. Create a budget to survive for 18 months. Expecting to be out of work for 18 months sounds like an incredible sacrifice and it is meant to be. A layoff needs to be an extreme financial wakeup and budget adjustment that must start from Day 1. Do everything you can to reduce spending, build savings, and enhance your monthly cash flow. Anticipating being out of work for 18 months is an extreme step to ensure that your savings will last.

  4. Don’t touch retirement savings. Touching retirement savings must be an absolutely last, last, last step. There are severe financial penalties, a drastic increase to your retirement age, and a mis-prioritization for your financial goals. Make it a point to absolutely not touch your retirement nest egg.

  5. Create a story of change as a positive experience. A layoff must be a positive experience. If you do not see it as a positive experience, then you need to change your story. It is a chance for you to change industries, work with people that you admire, start your own business, go back to school, or a hundred other positive steps. The best part may be waking up early to watch the sun rise or volunteering at the local library. Make this a story of personal improvement and positivity.

  6. Network with decision makers & influencers. Networking is how you will find your next position. Applying online is fine, but for every online job application, reach out to three (3) other people. Job applications cannot talk to people about your skills and abilities, but other people sure can and will. Find people that know other people and engage them to help you discover opportunities.

  7. Use a wide range of executive recruiters. Executive recruiters and staffing agencies are a wealth of opportunities that can lead to your next position. Most have unique relationships with certain industries or with specific companies so be sure to look at a large number of agencies and not just one or two.

  8. Be flexible for great companies. If a great company offers you a customer service role instead of a sales role, then take it. Being part of a great company is a way to learn, to contribute, and then grab that great sales role from an internal position as opposed to an external position. In addition, most positions are seldom posted externally. Being in the company you want is the first step to getting the job that you want.

  9. Get a part time / gig job. Having a part time job or a gig job is a great way to build self-esteem while you land your next career. Restoring furniture or assembling Ikea couches is a great way to be useful, be productive, and create some extra income. In addition, part time work in the industry that you want to work full time in is a great way to build your credibility.

  10. Use a schedule to stay positive. Distractions and a lack of schedule can become a morale killer. Stay positive and use a strict schedule to work out, follow up with calls, network, work a part time job, and volunteer. A strict schedule is a very positive aspect for maintaining a positive attitude.

When you successfully start your next career, look back with a smile. You are creating a better, more productive, and happier stage of your life.  The layoff was the impetus for you to start your next stage, so smile, be content, help others, and create great contributions following your layoff.


Share your tips and experiences how you became better & more successful following a layoff!


Other Articles of Interest:

  1. How to Learn From Failing to Win a Promotion
  2. Leverage Your LinkedIn Profile For Career Success
  3. Top Tips to Help Master a Phone and Video Interview


Author Bio: Chad Storlie is a Retired US Army Officer, the author of Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and has published over 230 articles in over 145 publications on military veterans, career advancement, business, leadership, strategy, education, financial planning, and national security topics.  Chad excels as an author, mentor, speaker, and teacher showing business leaders and military veterans how military skills make lives, careers, and businesses better.  Chad is an adjunct Professor of Marketing at Creighton University.  Chad has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.  Follow Chad @CombatToCorp and