Just Got Laid Off? Now, What?

By Shubika Bilkha



The news over the last few weeks has highlighted impending lay-offs in the telecom sector to the tune of over 60,000 in the coming months, while the airline industry has also announced cuts with the likes of Jet Airways indicating that 1900 employees could lose their job amidst financial concerns. Last year India’s IT sector in fact saw the loss of over 75,000 jobs, some on account of automation and AI.


Disruptions to industry, automation, financial challenges, the nature of the startup business, poor industry growth, declining revenues or just plain bad management are some of the reasons that can be attributed to mass scale job cuts across various sectors.


All this talk of lay-offs reminded me of the early years of my career in finance in London with the crash of Lehman Brothers and the subsequent financial crisis. I remember that morning vividly when a close friend who worked at Lehman called me hysterical right after the finale meeting to say, “Its over”.  We all stared in shock looking at the news bulletins that day and wondered what was in store for our own careers across different firms. When I worked on the first and largest SIV restructuring at the time, I gradually understood just how bad the situation really was. While my job was secure, to see the plight of various colleagues and friends was discomforting to say the least.


Lay-offs or job cuts are unavoidable


The culture of lay-offs or job cuts in a constantly disruptive and evolving world is something quite unavoidable. For millennials or the Gen Z’s building the resilience to encounter this has become absolutely necessary. While it can be daunting, embarrassing and feel like a personal failure, it is absolutely essential to remain pragmatic, positive and rise above it all. Change in itself while necessary is never easy.


While we hope none of our readers’ need to face being laid off, from working with some Career Coaching clients, I have listed some advice on what you can do if you find yourself in this situation:


First up, take a timeout


You will feel multiple emotions and not all of them will be productive, so its best that you just take a timeout and do nothing! Take a loved one and go out of town if that’s possible or take that solo trip to a new place/yoga retreat/spa for a few days. Whatever it is, do not sit around wallowing in self-pity, ignore the sabotage voices and definitely do not call your boss upset!


Carefully assess your financial standing


The immediate stress for most of us is usually about how will we pay the bills. Take a step back and carefully look at the current state of your finances. Trust me they will be better than you have imagined! Also, make sure that you understand your entitlements as per your contract and negotiate some form of a settlement! With a number of Indian companies, this can often be challenging.


Productively reflect


Change your perspective on your situation by seeing it as a time to positively and dispassionately reflect on what worked and what you could do better. See this as an opportunity to really think about your career path and how it synchronizes with your values and life purpose.


Do Something Cool


Build a new skill, take a random course or just go out there and do something you always wanted but could never make the time. This will not only re-inspire you, but will give you something far more compelling to start your next interview with!


Pull out that Contact List


Buried under that huge pile of contacts is you next job. Analyze your contact list, spot the connectors, build a list of references and set up those relationship building meetings. The more people you network with, the higher the probability of success.


Craft a Neat Attack Plan


Organize your thoughts, get out that suit, update that resume, go through your phone book and register with recruiter’s/job portals. Use a prioritization matrix to focus your job search for better results.


Practice Your Story


It is vital that you work on telling your story productively. Keep the negative voices at bay, don’t indulge in TMI (too much information) and find a positive yet honest way of describing yourself. Practice on your neighbor, the random acquaintance, distance relatives, the mirror, to get yourself perfect for that next interview round!


Sometimes getting laid off can be the change that you most needed in your life- Stay positive!



About the Author –  Shubika Bilkha is currently the Founding Partner of Edpower-U. She is a dynamic entrepreneur, trained executive coach, media spokesperson, author and corporate advisor with experience that spansthe financial, technology, ecommerce, education and real estate sectors in India and Internationally. As the managing Director of two early stage start-ups in technology and education, Shubika has hands on experience in all aspects of these businesses. She was recently the Managing Director of a leading vocational training institute in India and has worked with a number of leaders across industry, government and the educational ecosystem in India and the UK.


She is also a published author with her first book widely distributed.


Shubika is an alumna of Mount Holyoke College, USA and Columbia Business School, USA; an Associate Member of the Chartered Securities Institute (CSI) in the UK; and has completed the “Building Excellence in Higher Educational Institutions” at the Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad. She is a trained Executive Coach with CTI, UK in line with the International Coaching Federation (ICF) ACC guidelines.

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