Rising layoffs, budget cuts, and business closures are just a few of the widespread consequences of COVID-19. If you have been laid off as a result of the pandemic, you’re likely experiencing—among other things—some level of defeat and/or powerlessness. The emotional toll of a layoff can cloud an employee’s ability to pick up and forge a new path forward. Harvard Business Review recently published an article with some helpful, step-by-step reminders for those who find themselves in this difficult situation.
Smile Through the Chaos
First, it’s important to “keep negative emotions in check,” write authors David Lancefield and Dorie Clark. While you may feel compelled to openly complain to your colleagues, you will be better off saving your grief for private spaces. You never know who you might (re)encounter in your professional circles, or what they may have heard about you. Burning bridges is not an option—during your job search, you will likely need positive references from past jobs, so it’s in your best interest to make a graceful departure.
Be Selective in Choosing Your Confidants
Rather than flocking to social media to rant about your layoff, Lancefield and Clark recommend choosing only a few people within your network to personally contact to share the news with, at least at first. These people should be your mentors; your former colleagues, bosses, and/or supervisors; your former clients, customers, and/or suppliers; and/or your friends. Reaching out to them directly will show them that their presence in your professional life means a lot to you. It will also let them know that you are back on the job market. Someone in your network may be able to point you in a helpful direction to speed up your search for new employment.
Plan a Smooth Transition
Another component of a graceful departure is making a concerted effort to proactively plan for your absence. Unless an entire department or organization is shutting down, your colleagues will inevitably absorb some or all of your work when you’re gone. Setting them up to successfully perform the work you leave behind will leave them—as well as your supervisors— with a lasting positive impression of your work ethic, write Lancefield and Clark. It will also further ensure that you’re parting ways with the organization on good terms.
Say Goodbye in Your Own Words
Following a layoff, Lancefield and Clark advise against “vanishing” without a trace. Instead, send a goodbye email to let everyone know when you’ll be leaving, what you appreciated about your time at the organization, and how they can stay in touch with you. The authors suggest keeping your parting words brief so as to avoid disclosing too much detail about your future plans (or lack thereof, if the layoff was out of the blue).
Begin Your Search in Your Network
Now, it’s time to let the rest of your network know that you are job-seeking. The quickest way to do this is via a social media post, but you can also do so by sending messages directly to those in your broader network. If you decide to write a post on your social media account(s), Lancefield and Clark suggest keeping it brief. Not only will you likely receive supportive, reassuring reactions to your situation, but your network will now be more inclined to keep a finger on the pulse of job opportunities in your area(s) of expertise.
Lancefield and Clark’s article puts forth ideas about how to write your goodbye email and your broader network notification. You can view the article in its entirety here.