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What to say when you're laid off

And remember, some things are better left unsaid

By Karen Datko Sep 11, 2009 5:44PM

What did Paul Williams of Crackerjack Greenback do to keep from crying after he was laid off? He prayed and then told family and close friends. "Those two actions will give you the energy you need to keep going forward," he wrote.


Being upfront with those close to you about your unemployed state is essential for your mental well-being, many bloggers advise. On the other hand, screaming at your boss may give you some momentary satisfaction, but don't do it. "Now is not the time to burn bridges," says an excellent post at Destroy Debt called "What to do if you get laid off."


(Maintaining composure may be all the more difficult if you're laid off by mass e-mail or IM, or read about it at your boss's blog -- all true stories, according to Linton Weeks' post at NPR. So much for the human touch.)


Stories about layoffs are spreading across the Web, and we noticed some dominant themes. First, tell friends and family immediately.


Nicholas Carlson at Silicon Alley Insider is tracking the journey of six tech workers who lost their jobs. All said it's best to be open about it. "The best way to find a new job is to let people know you are looking -- this includes family and friends," said John Hutchinson. "I have no idea where the lead that turns into my next job may come from, so part of being honest with everyone about ... your situation can actually help you solve the problem."


Not telling your spouse may lead to divorce, said Michael La Pean at Laid-Off: The Blog. He added, "Only on television do people who get fired or laid off keep this news from their spouses." We hope he's right.


Remain calm when you're talking about it with your spouse and children, and that also goes for when you're having a final conversation with your boss. Philip Smith said at Silicon Alley Insider, "No matter how much it sucks, remember it's not personal."


Rather than venting, it's time to ask for a letter of reference and severance package.


(While we're on this topic, please apply for unemployment benefits right away if you lose your job. We were amazed to read blog comments written by people who considered it only after they'd drawn down their savings.)


After all this seriousness, we read Jen Chaney's humorous post, "What NOT to tell your child after you've been laid off," at Strollerderby. Don't blame Elmo, Jen said. Here's another one: "Remember how I told you that if you devote yourself to an organization and work really, really hard, you'll eventually be recognized for your achievements? Yeah, um, not so much." On second thought, that's not funny.


Related reading:

Published Jan. 12, 2009



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