Executive Careers Blog

How to Manage a Job Layoff (Part 1)


When you are laid off, things may seem totally out of your control:  you no longer have use of your office, your income has stopped or will stop soon, your bills continue pouring in and there is no job alternative in site. 

But, in truth, you can control more than you think.  You can choose to remain professional at all times, with all you come in contact with during the termination phase:  your managers, colleagues, and human resources.  You can choose to remain positive, having the faith and confidence that it will all turn out ok in the end.  And, there is always room for negotiation regarding a package (cash and non-cash items).  Cash items include severance pay, bonus pay out, paid vacation, along with sick or personal days.  Non-cash items include COBRA, outplacement services, vesting considerations, departure dates, and potential retirement benefits.  You could even discuss the potential to fill transfers to either permanent or temporary positions at your company.

  • There are many “dos” and “don’ts” during a termination meeting:  Do listen and take notes, which will help clarify important details.  Do make sure you capture and understand the reasons for the termination.  Ask as many questions as necessary to understand everything:  how the severance is calculated, and if you can schedule a follow-up meeting because again, it will be difficult to hear all the details.

    Hard as it may be, do not take this personally and do not get emotional.  Do not ask for your job back or for the “real” reason you were terminated.  Never make threats and don’t sign anything at this point.  You’ll want to let the emotional part of this pass, so you can concentrate on next steps.  Save your energies for what really counts …

    Put all of your energy and determination into what you need to do next, which includes:

    • Preparing your story regarding why you were laid off, for those inside and outside of the company,
    • Maintain contacts for future opportunities,
    • Take time to assess and reflect upon what has happened and what this means to you at this point in your life,
    • And lastly, launch a proactive, thoughtful job search (see our next blog which outlines specific steps you should follow).


    Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio is a career coach and co-founder of  and has worked for the bluest of blue chips for the past 25 years. Her companies include Citigroup, Pfizer, and most recently as the COO of Campus Recruiting for Merrill Lynch. Connie also co-authors a career blog for Vault.com.

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