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Laid off? Here's how to navigate the holidays

BY Kena Shah

14th Dec 2022 Christmas

Laid off? Here's how to navigate the holidays

Being laid off is tough any time of year, but it can be especially hard around the holidays. Here's some advice for navigating the festive season 

The past few holiday seasons have been difficult for all of us. More so this year due to mass layoffs within many industries, especially tech and media.  

Everyone has different ways of coping with financial stress, and a layoff can make things worse by bringing on feelings of inadequacy and failure. Add to that the time of year when personal space can be limited, and those feelings are amplified.  

You have two options: endure the holidays or enjoy the holidays. Here are some ways to do more of the latter while minimizing the former (and kickstart the hunt for your next role).  

Dinner party conversations 

Christmas dinner party

Christmas dinner parties often involve a bit of work chat

At dinner parties, breaking the ice commonly involves a “How’s work going?” or “What do you do for work?” 

The latter isn’t as difficult to answer; you can simply respond by saying you work in X role in Y industry. With the former, however, your response will depend on how comfortable you are sharing your situation.  

If you find yourself feeling uncomfortable or feel that you’re being probed more than you’d like, being straightforward is the way to go. Say something along the lines of: “I’d rather talk about something else. How’s ____ going?”  If they’ve heard of layoffs at your company: “I’m not comfortable sharing details at the moment. How about we change the subject?” should be sufficient. 

"If you feel that you’re being probed more than you’d like, being straightforward is the way to go"

Leveraging the dinner party is an option if you’re feeling bold. During a conversation, try and find out if the opposite person works at a company you’d want to. Then, establish rapport and mention your interest. If they catch on to your hint, they’ll likely offer to refer you. Most companies have referral incentives, so it’s a win-win situation. If your collocutor changes the subject, don’t push it; they may not be comfortable offering a referral, which is completely fine and not to be taken personally. 

Reach out to your network 

Networking

Don't be afraid to start networking, whether in person or virtually

This is the perfect time of year to reach out to people in your network, be it personal or professional. December is when people are gearing up for the New Year before they head off on their break.  Connect with that cousin who works at a company you want to be at, or reach out to that friend who offers career mentorship.  

Additionally, make a LinkedIn profile if you haven’t already. LinkedIn is the top tool professionals use to network, make connections, and find jobs. Many professionals have also taken to building a personal brand on LinkedIn, which is amazing for your career. A personal brand allows you to establish yourself as an expert in your field, resulting in in-bound job proposals. Over time, you won’t even have to worry about searching for a job—the jobs will be sitting right there in your inbox. 

"Thirty to forty per cent of hires are made from referrals"

For the time being, connect with recruiters at companies you want to work for and send them personalized messages stating your interest in the company. This will go a long way in catching recruiters’ attention.  

One thing to keep in mind is to reach out before December 23 at the latest. Of course, when people leave for vacation varies, but this is a good limit. After January 3 is when you should follow up on any requests you sent before the break.  

To emphasize, there is absolutely no shame in reaching out to connections. In fact, 30–40 per cent of hires are made from referrals. So instead of hesitating to reach out for a referral, consider it a normal part of today’s economy.  

Try to still enjoy the holidays

Family time

Try to let yourself enjoy the holidays as much as possible 

It’s easier said than done, but truly try to give your mind a break. You will find another job, but if in the process of doing so you jeopardize your health, it will take much longer to recover from than financial loss.  

Even though it’s an unwanted break, it’s still a break. Spend time with family and friends. Find what works for you. If it’s keeping all career-related talk out of family conversations, then do that. Prefer to talk it out and let others in on your emotions? Go ahead, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how willing most people are to offer support.

"It’s easier said than done, but truly try to give your mind a break"

If you’re a parent, this is also a great chance to show resilience and set an example for your kids. They may not understand what you’re going through, but children are smart and pick up on emotions. One stress-ridden outburst can mean the difference between your children looking back on this time and feeling either sadness or happiness when they think of the holidays.

What’s important is that you take time to unwind and absorb the essence of the holiday season, which is spending quality, stress-free time with your loved ones. 

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