Work & Purpose

The Worst Advice I Got After a Layoff

I'm glad I didn't follow these four suggestions from my ex-colleagues

(This article appeared previously on AOLJobs.com.)

It's now roughly a year since I was laid off. I immediately got some advice from my still-employed colleagues that sounded supportive, but was 100 percent wrong.

Luckily, I didn't follow any of it. Here is a sample of some of the worst advice I was offered and why I'm glad I didn't follow any of it:

"The summer's almost over. You should take some time for yourself and enjoy the sunshine."
Yes, it's tempting to get up late the next morning, grab your bathing suit and a long forgotten book and hit the beach. Don't. Hit the computer instead. Sign up for unemployment, so money starts trickling in from the state as soon as possible.

(MORE: Laid Off at 60: What to Do Next)

More importantly, hit the ground running and start looking at jobs immediately. Even if you immediately update your resumé to provide the end date of this last job, it will still look like you're employed for at least a month. It's an important month.
"You just took a tough hit. Take some time for yourself and lick your wounds to regroup. That way you can start with a more positive outlook."
If you're extremely angry about being laid off, don't take it out on yourself by creating extra handicaps. Delaying a job hunt is one huge handicap you don't have to have.

Time is important and hitting the ground running demonstrates to potential employers that you're just that type of person — the one who can accept challenges and immediately take steps to meet them.

If you are extremely angry, get counseling. An angry attitude comes through in cover letters, resumés and interviews. Anger can be your own worst enemy in landing a new position.

(MORE: Laid Off After 50: 5 Do's and a Don't)

If you delay starting a job search, anger tends to just fester and the procrastination rarely results in a better attitude. My experience shows that procrastination more often serves to just make the anger worse as it gets harder and harder to start a search and easier and easier to play the blame game on the previous employer.

"It will be great not to have to get up early in the morning. You can let yourself go a bit and relax in your sweats."
It's important to set and maintain a routine that lets you stay upbeat and energetic. This includes continuing to get up early each day as if you were going to work and then — going to work. Except now you're going to work on yourself and not for your ex-employer.
Working on yourself includes continuing to get dressed, albeit not in business casual clothes or a suit. But definitely don't wear sweats or let yourself go. The only time you should put on sweats is when you're exercising, in order to create the best you that you can be for job interviews and first impressions.

(MORE: For Job Seekers Who've Tried Everything)

"This is a great time to take a vacation. You won't have time once you get a new job."
Going on vacation when unemployed is a terrible idea. Vacations are expensive and you don't know how long you'll need unemployment insurance, severance or savings to last. If you have a reason to visit someone in another city as an opportunity to also seek jobs in that city, then go for it. But if the vacation is simply to give yourself a change of scenery, this is not the time.
Instead, when you get a job offer, negotiate an extra week before the start date. Certainly if you were working, you would likely need to give two weeks notice to an employer. There's nothing wrong with starting a new job two weeks after it's offered as well, except now it's to tie up personal loose ends, perhaps buy a new outfit, and go on vacation!

At least if you run up the credit card on this type of vacation, you will soon be seeing a steady paycheck to help pay the debt.

No Time to Lay Back 
Here's the hard truth: When you're laid off, it's no time to lay back. It will likely take you many months to get a new job. With all that time in front of you, it can be easy to fall into the trap of not getting started sooner rather than later. Don't.

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get started all over again right away.

The next day after a layoff can set the tone for your job search. Make that next day, and all the days that follow, ones where you hold your head high and give yourself the fighting chance you so richly deserve.

Don't lick your wounds. Instead, play music from Rocky, get up from the countdown, and get yourself back in the ring. Some cardio boxing at home can't hurt either. It's all about getting your head in the game as fast as possible. Vacations and R&R? There's plenty of time for that later.


Rhona Bronson is an AOLJobs.com contributor. She has spent more than 30 years in marketing and communications positions with well-known consumer product and media brands. After being laid off as a Senior VP of Marketing in 2009, she started a marketing and consulting company in North Jersey. She later led a marketing group for a regional newspaper in South Jersey. Laid off again in 2013, Bronson conducted a focused job search resulting in her newest position as Director of Marketing for the Delaware River and Bay Authority.

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