CareerSherpas: Climbing the Mountain

When you’re on the way, it helps to share the load

Archive for April, 2008

Surviving Drastic Changes: Layoffs and Lending a Hand

Sunday, April 13th, 2008

As clouds brew in the economic forecasts and the fortunes of companies shift, the announcement of layoffs is becoming more commonplace. Being caught in a layoff cycle is never a fun experience, but can offer great opportunities to re-evaluate and even gain more control over the direction of your life. For those left behind after layoffs, life can be challenging as workloads are distributed and the unsettling questions over the stability of ones position arise.

So what can either group do to balance the disruption?

Reach out!

If you’re on the receiving end of a pink slip, your former co-workers can help you make new contacts that you might not be able to make on your own. Reaching out to them can help you get a start on the job search, get pointers on new directions, and help you find other connections. In many cases the larger the community you live in, the more chances you have to connect with a chance of a lifetime contact just by asking at the right time or when you need it.

On the other side of the fence, if your co-workers have been laid off, offer to help. Ask them how they’re doing, what they’re planning to do now, and if they’d like to go for coffee or lunch. The simple act of offering comfort will help you both deal with the situation. Share contacts that you think might be able to help the person bridge the gap to what they want to do next and, if you’re able to follow through, offer to make the connection for them. Aside from feeling good about helping someone, you will strengthen your own network by helping to connect different needs. You’ll also increase the chance that, if and when the time comes that you need help bridging a gap or recovering from a layoff, someone might be able to help you.

Reaching out to people you know costs you little or nothing and helps form stronger relationships. Either way, you haven’t lost anything by talking to someone.

Peter Fitzgerald is the founder of and is currently working on his first book, managing a team of project managers, and attempting to learn the bagpipes.