Have a tip for someone facing a layoff?

Have a tip for someone facing a layoff?

By Rajesh Setty on Sun 08 Feb 2009, 10:22 PM – 30 Comments

Being in Silicon Valley, I see people getting laid off almost everyday. Actually, I see more people who are in the “fear of a layoff” everyday. Talking to them in the last couple of months, I think the “living in the fear of facing a layoff” is worse than being laid off.


Because both the employee and the employer lose in that game. The employee loses because he is NOT giving his or her best. The employer loses actually for the same reason,

So, I embarked on a journey to write an eBook  titled:


Facing A Layoff AND Doing It Anyway

(Yes, the title is inspired by the movie “Defiance” )

The book is now complete. This time around, I have added an Appendix where I will include specific tips contributed by thoughtful people. I have got thirty of them so far and am looking for twenty more tips. Please make it original and something that others might have not thought about. Tips like “Update your LinkedIn profile,” “Update your resume” are important but common. I am looking for something more innovative and your help is appreciated.

Do you have one SPECIFIC tip for people who are facing a layoff?

You can write a comment here or send me an email directly. My contact details are at: http://www.rajeshsetty.com/about/contact/

If I select the tip to include in the eBook, I will include a link to your website along with your tip. If someone else has already submitted the tip, I will let you know as well.

Thanks again in advance.


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30 Comments so far, Add Yours

satheesh  on February 9th, 2009

I am from India where lay offs have slowly started to become common-place (esp in IT). I have seen lots of people looking at lay-offs in various ways, but the most painful attitude (its not reaction, but a prelude) is avoidance and not accepting that it can happen to yourself. I think it helps to always keep lay-off as a possibility at every point of your career and see how will handle the situation and be ready. After all if one can cover one’s family by taking insurance why can’t one plan for a more “earthly” situation. Sometimes I think that anyone who can afford to take-off from work life (may be by resigning from the job) for a few months every few years will be better off handling lay-off like situations. The unfortunate thing might be that a sizable portion of those who gets laid off might be the ones who are desperately clinging on to the job to support their families. I think every pro-active organization can think of active HR policies which trains the employees regularly to handle such situations anytime during their career.

David Zinger  on February 9th, 2009

A short note to the laid off:

Be kind to yourself for life is not a problem to be solved but an experience to be lived. You may not like the layoff (who would?) but can you live the layoff?

I think we get so busy trying to fix things that we don’t stop and take time to realize where we are.

Acceptance is not passivity and it is certainly not panic. Acceptance is so much stronger than simplistic positive thinking.

When life throws me a lemon, I don’t make lemonade, I duck. After that I get back up and figure out what comes next.

Alan Watts once wrote: “If we make where we are going more important than where we are, there may be no point in going.”

I encourage you to be fully where you are while creating your next moves out of acceptance not anger, hatred, fear, anxiety, shame, guilt or one of the other glitchy emotions that can accompany a layoff.

Please take care and carry on caring.

We need you — even if it does not feel like that to you at times.

Love David

Rajesh Setty  on February 9th, 2009

Satheesh, thanks for sharing the perspective from there. Yes, layoffs are new in India but I guess, everyone knew that it was coming. Having said that, knowing is not the same as experiencing it. So it hurts!

David, Loved the letter to the laid off. Insightful. Thank you.



vallibindana  on February 9th, 2009

This is especially for those who have been too happy with their work for years and haven’t gone out and networked much yet.

Before starting to do that, list out “all existing” connections, friends, ex-colleagues, family :) and get actively in touch with them, trying to know what ‘they’ are up to and see if you can help them in any way or by connecting them meaningfully. This way you are within a loop already and by helping out and adding value to people’s lives you attract everyone’s attention yourself in a very positive way. This is sure to pay off in time.

Rajesh Setty  on February 9th, 2009


That is thoughtful. However tempting it is to start looking for “what you can get” from everyone, winners will be those who will start looking for “what to give” to the network.

Thanks again.



vallibindana  on February 9th, 2009

Yes, Rajesh if you ever see the movie “Luck By Chance” there is a scene about a grandfather’s clock… my guess is you will smile real wide when you see it :)

Ram  on February 9th, 2009

Hi Rajesh:

I have one very specific recommendation to those who are worried about getting laid off: Rank yourself and your colleagues in a your team (10 people to 25 people) from the point of view of your supervisor and see where you fall. Remember, everyone in the team gets a rank from 1 to N, and there can be no ties.

Starting right after 9/11/01, as a manager I have participated in 4 separate exercises to lay off employees. Based on that, I can share some insights into how these decisions are typically made in big corporations. (People should realize that it quite difficult to be on either side on these exercises and every manager tries to be as objective as they could possibly be.)

Typically, every company that is facing large-scale layoffs will do something called a Total review of the team members. The criteria will usually include:

1. The previous two or three years’ annual performance rating (This plays a big role)

2. The employee’s qualification (formal educational as well as special skills). If someone has extra training that is very relevant to the company’s needs, they get a better rank.

3. Contribution or Value brought to the corporation. Different companies have different names for this, but the bottom line is: how much value is this employee adding to the team or group or the whole company. (BTW, I have found that employees always know the candid answer to this question themselves.)

4. Soft skills and overall attitude also matter, but to a smaller degree.

So what can the employee do? Use these factors (annual performance ratings, education, relevant skills and training, and value-added) and rank each person in their own group including themselves as if they were making the layoff decisions. Preferably, do this in Excel and not in our own mind, where you might not be as rigorous.

If you end up in the bottom 25% within your small team, you should consider looking for other job opportunities. Don’t wait and try to dodge this wave. There will be others. Also, if you are at risk, the general belief is that it is easier to get another job while you already have one.

While doing this exercise, don’t be too harsh or too easy on yourself. Be objective. Ending up in the bottom quartile only means that there are other jobs out there that might be more suitable to your skills.


tom  on February 9th, 2009

It’s time to wake the hell up.

You surely know one source of income is not enough and plus you probably hate that job.

Do something you like instead, forget the money.

And i don’t want to hear this bullshit about your bills.

You have a house and car you can’t afford, downgrade.

Rajesh Setty  on February 9th, 2009

Ram, thank you for the contribution. I like it and will use it in the eBook.

Tom, thank you too for the contribution. I will use this but might change the language a little bit :)

You seem to be angry for some reason :)



tom  on February 9th, 2009

A bit angry I would say because people are living an illusion and think that all good things will stay good and nothing will happen.

Conflict is a great time to look for the opportunity in it.

Rajesh Setty  on February 9th, 2009

Got it Tom. I agree about the illusion part. Like my teacher would say – “When you are driving a car in the desert, until you run out of gas, everything seems just fine. The moment you run out of gas, all hell will break loose” :(



tom  on February 9th, 2009

Well you got one awesome teacher.

One thing i want to point out is, even if someone does get a new job, how long will the excitement last? A few weeks and you are back to square 1.

Plus i don’t know why people can’t seem to break it into their heads. You bust your ass for 60 minutes and they pay you 50cents/minute. Imagine you just made a huge sale or saved a loyal customer from leaving, whats that worth?

Jobs are a one size fits all system, as is everything else like school

thisisananth  on February 9th, 2009

If we are laid off because of our company losing the project and hence the company had to trim, then our confidence will be high and we will not feel bad very much. This time, though we might keep looking for other jobs, it would be helpful if we can offer our services for free. If we can delight them with our work, we may get employed also. Or we can teach inexperienced people drawing from our experience, ofcourse this will be free but surely we will be kept challenged and we will be able to capture any opportunity that will come our way.

The above two work if we are happy doing what we were doing and we are pretty competent at our job.

But if we are not competent or not liking our job, then there couldn’t be any better opportunity than this to get into our dream field. Though financially we may have to struggle, doing the job we love will always make us happy and we can happily give without getting anything in return for long time. I am sure with passion we will surely get a foothold in that field and when we deliver enough value, we will start getting paid.

If a family depends on our income, then we might be in a riskier situation and then we have to eliminate lot of choices, but if we cannot help it atleast we can be optimisitic, keep learning and sharing we will reduce the pain and in the meantime might as well find a new job :)

Rajesh Setty  on February 9th, 2009

Thank you Ananth for the comments.

I am looking for specific things someone might do to deal with a layoff or a scare of one. If you have anything specific and unique, I would love to hear about it.

Thanks again.



The brighter side of recession « QAspire  on February 10th, 2009

[…] Rajesh rightly puts it, “living in the fear of facing a layoff is worse than being laid off. ” (By the way, Rajesh is compiling an eBook named “Facing A Layoff and Doing It […]

Tanmay Vora  on February 10th, 2009

Hi Rajesh,

I was laid off in 2001 downturn and I learnt an important lesson. When I was laid off as a programmer, I critically evaluated my alternative skills to find that I was good at and inclined towards writing. I understood technology. I knew how to write. That is where my next opportunity was – to work as a technical writer. I ended up with a job in less than 6 weeks after the layoff. I then did some deliberate career switches to other areas of business. Specialization in one area with a strong understanding of business is a good strategy to remain “alternatively-skilled”.

We all have something else that we love doing apart from our core area of work. We all work in alternate non-core areas even when we are employed. Our knowledge in alternate areas/skills can be smartly leveraged to do a mapping with current skills that businesses need and one stands a much better chance of getting a job back.



Rajesh Setty  on February 10th, 2009

Good point Tanmay. Will include this in the eBook as well as a link to your website.

Thank you so much for the contribution.



Shankar  on February 10th, 2009

The most critical point:

Layoff is NOT getting Fired.

You get fired because you messed up BUT you get laid off because your employer can’t AFFORD you !

Inculcate this thought and all your initial set of negativity is gone..be it towards yourself or others whom you think are part of the “conspiracy” to get you laid off.

The Hindu scriptures have a multitude of stories also called “upakathas” apart from the 2 great epics.

I will soon be startng a blog on thiose lines addressing them from a management perspective.

Here is a precursor…the story is apocryphal..and what you see below is my treatment of the idea..:

There was a kingdom where a king was allowed to rule for 7 years … after which he was stripped of everything and ostracized to a land beyond the Great river that flowed through it.

All the kings would enjoy their reign in a typical manner with all the jolly-good privileges only a king could enjoy..wine,women et. al..

But towards the end of the reign they would get paranoid …become mad and some even committed suicide.

But that was not the case of the 108th person who became the King…He ruled the 7 years in a just manner…and on the last day he left with a royal composure. Everyone in the kingdom were spell-bound at his dignity.

Just as he was to board the canoe…the minister asked him the secret of his calm.

To which the king replied,

“I ruled you people in the best manner I could…but on a personal front …I didn’t waste resources on frivolous activities..instead I invested them in the land beyond this river…during the course of 7 years I have built a new Kingdom there. I was your King till now but my NEW Kingdom awaits me there.”

So, the question for you Kings/Queens…what happens for you at the end of of your “7 years” ?

Anand  on February 10th, 2009

Watch out your hobbies!. If you are not so successful in your current profession, your

Hobbies can turn into a new profession. It’s your passion. The work we do with passion always pays.

Rajesh Setty  on February 10th, 2009

Shankar, Good point and I love the story. Thank you for sharing this. Will use the story in the eBook.

Anand, I like your point about hobbies. Will use that too.

Both of you have not provided your websites to link to :(



Shankar  on February 10th, 2009

Please check out my blog…the same can be used as a link in your e-book…thanks!


One Nanometer  on February 11th, 2009

Hi Rajesh:

I would like to thank you first for coming up with this post. Actually, it accomplishes three things from my perspective:

1. Makes people come out with what they have in mind, usually with ideas to stay put with a positive frame of mind or just outright frustrations.

2. People actually have the opportunity to read what others think.

3. Provides tips to stay focused as this post has triggered :-)

Great, what next?

My tip or opinion you decide :-) !

See it like this. Personal self realization in areas other than your current profession career should be the key during uncertain times like these.

Working with passion is the key for professional success, but a layoff can bring it crashing down as it happened to me in the last recession. I learnt that happiness in a job and success in your profession are really two byproducts of the feelgood feeling your company will create. what i mean to say is, somehow the company has to motivate its employees to stay afloat and when this happens, employees are always happy. This happens to everyone actually. What i am saying is as long as your company performs well and you are on par, things just roll but when one of them falters, that is when we term them as layoffs or being fired.

So my tip would be, just continue what you are doing while being aware of whats happening around you and keep time for your other interests. So when you are actually laid off you could pursue your other interests till you are back at what you are passionate at. No recession is permanent and take it as an opportunity for self realization. No one ever finds time to pursue other interests when in a professional career.

BTW, one of my other interests is technical blogging.

Good luck to all of you and i hope you all get out of these terrible times with a different view of life.

soubhagya  on February 11th, 2009

Well to be honest i believe the lay-off on the name of cost-cutting(unless its a act of survival) doesn’t help, much more so with the company where their asset is the human resource they have(e.g IT services company in India)

I have seen recently some of my friends getting laid off and how hard it is to get out of this.One thing I found common was that there is a kind of panic setting in the management,regarding the future getting worse….

As far as what an individual needs to do in this situation is first throw away all your ill-feeling against the company as now you have to put all your energy to bring yourself back to track

Second try and understand the fact that you were laid off as you were the weakest link(someone who not so important as compared to others)There can be several other reason but I find this to be most important.Do some introspection as to what are your skills which need to sharpened which will make you more irreplaceable for a organization,what were your shortcoming try overcoming them.

Here is the time you have to think about setting goals for future as I have seen most individual just move with the time without having any focused approach towards their career.I understood myself the more you delay it the more difficult it become in the future

Sterling Lanier  on February 12th, 2009

Rajesh –

Following up on Ram’s commentary, a member in one of my Vistage CEO groups recently layed-off about 20% of his workforce to save the jobs of the remaining 80%. Other members of the group asked him, “How did you decide who to lay-off?” The member responded,”We ranked all employees. The ones who could do more than 1 job well stayed, the ones who couldn’t left.”

For those who have been layed-off or suspect that they will be soon:

– Take some time to write down at least 3 things you are thankful for.

– Decide whether you are going to become a victim who is angry, resentful, and self pitying or someone who will say, “Thank you former employer for giving me the chance of a lifetime.”

– Then write down what you will do differently to make you indispensable to your next employer.

Rajesh Setty  on February 12th, 2009

This is wonderful (as always) Sterling. Thank you.

For those of you who may not know this, Sterling Lanier is my mentor and teacher :)

Have a wonderful afternoon.



Kingsley Tagbo  on February 24th, 2009

Hello Rajesh,

I gave a few tips to people looking for IT jobs in the current economy in an article for IT World Canada.


Basically, my tips are:

1. Don’t look for jobs on job boards. Instead get your networking skills out and network furiously online and offline. Most jobs right now are going to come through linkedIn or personal referrals.

2. There are still jobs out there, but you need to do market research on what the hottest skills are, and learn them quickly to give you an edge on the market. If you are an expert, you won’t lack for work!

3. Don’t be overwhelmed about the situation. Believe in yourself!


Kingsley Tagbo


themaffeo  on February 25th, 2009

I don’t think ones modus operandi should be any different now than it is during a boom.

1) Check major job boards for availability of jobs and skills required at least once a month

2) Work hard every day – do quality work and make your boss happy.

3) Even if you’re happy at a job, answer every offer for work with “I’m happy where I currently am at, but always willing to consider other opportunities. “ And then listen to the pitch

4) Be nice to recruiters, even if you don’t need them.

5) Send #3 and #4 on to friends, even if they aren’t looking.

Most jobs in America are “at-will”. You can always lose your job, so you should always have a plan b. Now is no different.

Evelyne Draper  on February 27th, 2009

The organization I used to work for started a re-structuring program around 2000 that just never seemed to go away. There was a lot of fear, worry, anger and confusion amongst the work force. Lay-offs were on everybody’s mind.

My story is very similar to many of the comments above. I looked very hard at my life, at what else I wanted to do, what else I could be doing.

I refused to think like a victim. And I quit. Before the big lay-off happened. It did happen a couple of years later. Imagine all those people worrying for another 2 years! And they did nothing, except thinking “it’s not fair”.

I quit, and I even moved to a completely different country. And started again, much more confidently than before because I was in charge of my life now.

Whatever you do, take responsibility. There’s always something around the corner that will be just right for us. Just take the time to think about what else there could be that is waiting for us.

Tim Bursch  on March 20th, 2009


Are you still looking for tips? Glad to share a few.

Raj Char  on March 23rd, 2009

I know this might be too late to include in your book. But I wanted this to be here as a contribution to others. I was laid off in 2003 and I lost everything I had planned for my future, marriage, money, lost direction and finally got into depression. The next 3 years I spent planning to come back to USA. Finally, I managed to come back in 2006 Aug. All I did in this 3 years was I created a deep hunger to do extremely well in anything and everything I was given at work. All I knew was to work so hard that no one can even think of laying off in the worst of the worst situation up till they are on the verge of closing the company. Also, Even when the economy was doing well in 2006, My preparation for downturn had started. I always worked for what if in case of downturn situation NEVER for the good times. I always feel blessed to have a PC, Internet, Desk, Chair, Light, Phone in my office AND anything provided to me. I considered these as my luxury never as a RIGHT. This is because, when I lost my job in 2003, I had NOTHING, REALLY NOTHING. Realizing what it means to have NOTHING and being there already once helped me a lot. One more thing I realized, to be on the Core Team NOT on Context Team.

Good wishes to anyone / everyone.

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