10 Questions You Should Ask When Being Laid-off 

 
I've just been notified that the organization is restructuring and my position has been eliminated.... Now what? Meeting with a Career Transition Counselor may not be the first thing you think of, but it should be. Contrary to the name, getting career transition counseling isn't necessarily about changing careers or industries, although it can be. Taking the time to do a thorough evaluation of you, your life and your work can be the ticket to re-emerging into the world with confidence.
 
WHAT ARE THE FIRST STEPS AFTER A LAYOFF?
After hearing such undesirable news you're likely to be experiencing a wide range emotion from fear and anxiety to anger. However, the best thing you can do in this moment is to keep your head up and be pro-active. Being resilient will enhance your adaptability to this unwelcomed development along your career path and ultimately you will prevail. If your employer is offering a severance package with Outplacement services, great! - get in contact with your career coach as soon as possible. If no severance package is offered, there is no harm in trying to negotiate this into the terms of your displacement.  
 
WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM OUTPLACEMENT SERVICES?
Ultimately, a more rapid reemployment and hopefully a new and better opportunity that is more suited to your individual strengths. You can expect to have someone on your side with a high level of support and counseling throughout this stressful time. With a career coach they will help you develop a structured career campaign strategy to help you get into your next position faster. The service offerings may include helping you to build your resume and other marketing materials, help you to explore and define personal interests, skills and abilities, help you manage your personal network, practice interview skills, help you manage your search campaign and teach you negotiating strategies for salary and compensation.
 
WHAT ARE SOME BENEFITS OF CAREER TRANSITION & OUTPLACEMENT SERVICES?

It's a competitive job market today and more people are chasing fewer jobs than ever before. So, it's important to have your genius shine in all aspects of your job search.  Most people are not experienced in changing careers, so understanding and successfully navigating today's new world of work is of utmost importance. Through Outplacement services you can: 

  1. Develop a strategy for your career, using self-assessments and career exploration tools
  2. Create your marketing materials, such as your resume and LinkedIn profile
  3. Grow your personal brand so that your value proposition stands out
  4. Integrate a networking strategy that enhances your search
  5. Learn to handle interviews effectively
  6. Prepare to negotiate and evaluate job offers
WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD I ASK MY EMPLOYER REGARDING CAREER TRANSITION SERVICES? 

After receiving notice, it's expected that you're flooded with emotion and questions. Here are some of the basic questions you should be asking your employer about your Outplacement services.

  1. What is the duration of my program?
  2. Are the Outplacement services included in my severance package and is there any out-of-pocket costs to me?
  3. What services are included? 
  4. Will I be assigned my own career coach? How do I get in-touch with them?
HOW DO I BEGIN USING MY CAREER TRANSITION SERVICES?
Typically, the business will turn over the list of approved displaced employees to the Outplacement firm with extremely limited contact information for each person impacted. At that point the participant contacts the Outplacement firm or the Outplacement firm reaches out to the participant depending on the sponsoring organization. Once the participant has accepted Outplacement services they will then be set-up with a career coach who will help the employee create a structured career campaign strategy to re-enter the workforce. Note all severance agreements must have a period of rescission by law.  Many companies will allow Outplacement services immediately, but some will require the wait of the contract recession period.
 
WILL MY SEVERANCE PACKAGE REMAIN IN PLACE UNTIL I HAVE OBTAINED A NEW POSITION WITH THE HELP OF THE OUTPLACEMENT SERVICES?

Severance packages and agreements are legal documents that are carefully drawn up by attorneys to comply with local, state and Federal laws. They are contract law documents and remain in effect based on the parameters of the contract descriptions.  There is no “one” severance agreement format. Within that each of the areas has definitions about what and how long they apply.  By law they are defined in scope and applicability. Both employer and employee have defined penalties if the contract is violated. 

However, that being said, there are a variety of situations that may occur so be sure to read your severance agreement carefully and clarify any questions you have with your employer. Some companies may terminate the severance package upon the displaced employee finding employment. Other companies may establish time frames meaning you could have started your new role while still receiving your severance package benefits or you could be unfortunate with your severance benefits expired and still job searching.
 
WILL I BE ALLOWED PAID TIME OFF FOR TRAINING COURSES OR INTERVIEWS?
This varies by company and by the layoff parameters and if the layoff qualifies under the WARN Act - if more than 49 people are impacted the WARN Act requires 60 days' notice with full pay or 60 days of paid severance in lieu of 60-day notice in addition to any other severance benefits. Allowing these activities is becoming more acceptable at the level of the former employer and is supported by Outplacement firms only if the people impacted have had some initial Outplacement counseling to enhance their chances of getting hired.  This combination of early Outplacement services and time off for interviewing is becoming the new gold standard of companies focused on their reputations a great place to work.
 
WHAT IF I WANT TO CHANGE MY CAREER PATH?
This is common in today's business environment.  This typically is the technical difference between Outplacement and Career Transition Counseling.  Usually additional coaching, testing and guidance is needed to coach the individual on how to be successful without stepping back if possible.
 
WILL I SECURE A ROLE WITH OUTPLACEMENT SERVICES?
Outplacement services make a candidate better at securing the best position at the best compensation and how-to best market the value they bring to a company and therefore +usually get selected over multiple candidates.  In other words—the better you interview and present you as an asset to the hiring company, the better your odds of landing the ideal position.
 
HOW WILL MY CAREER COACH HELP ME?
You will have an assigned Career Coach who will work with you one-on-one. They will partner with you to reach your personal goals for this transition. You and your coach will begin by assessing your needs and evaluating your current options, based on the results of this assessment. Your first consultation should define what success looks like. Everything flows from there & your resume, companies to consider, positions to consider, even interview techniques.
 
 
 

Let's Talk.

Changing Your Career Can Change Your Life.
 
 
 
 

Scott Miles is the Managing Partner and Operations Manager at Miles LeHane Companies.  Scott works with clients, consultants, and client organizations on matters relating to reorganizations, career transition and outplacement. Follow Scott on Twitter @scott_miles

Career Transition