The Help Files: You’ve Been Laid Off. Bah Humbug!

christmas-bokehYou all know about the late afternoon shoulder-tap, right? It usually arrives after you have recovered from lunch, but before you can start getting ready to leave for the day. Your boss comes over to you, taps you on the shoulder, and says something like, “Gotta minute?”

The two of you then walk into a conference room where HR is waiting for you with a pile of papers. You are being laid off, effective today. They don’t need a reason. They simply don’t want you around anymore. Maybe you’re too expensive. Maybe the company lost too many contracts. Maybe you messed up big time, or just once too often. Maybe your new boss doesn’t like you.

The reason really doesn’t matter. The decision has been made. You’re out of work.

My own version of this happened many years ago. The company shall remain nameless. My new boss used his favorite phrase, “Can I borrow you for a minute?” No reason was given, even though I asked. They just said I wasn’t the only one. I found out later that the whole department was axed. The company had decided upon a new direction. Contractors were hired to replace the employees.

I was kicked into the nameless void of joblessness. I had no contacts. This layoff occurred before social media existed. We didn’t have a web connection at home yet, only charge-by-the minute dial-up. Yuck! No smartphones, either. There was no LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.

Hello, Sunday edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer. (This is the edition of the big city paper that contains job listings.) When I needed to get a refresher on how to write a resume and cover letter, I drove to the local library to find a book on business writing from the 1970s. I even used inter-library loans to lay my hands on books that might be useful.

That was a rough time. The Internet bubble had burst. Pundits predicted the end of tech. Other loud-mouths said the web was dead. It took me a whole year, navigating part-time and short-lived jobs, until I landed another real job.

Fortunately, these days are different. Social media is a well-established part of everyday life. Need a refresher on how to write a resume or cover letter? Google it. You’ll get page after page of great material. Now you can set up Google Alerts for jobs, but that’s a subject for another column. You can even look for a new job without getting out of bed!

My experience being unemployed is a HUGE part of the reason that I write this column. I wanted to create a one-stop shop for job-hunting and career advice because I didn’t have such material close at hand when I was looking for work myself.

That said, I’m going to stop palavering and get on with the December 2016 edition of The Help Files, which concentrates on what to do if you get laid off. Fear not and read on. We’ve got you covered!

Worried You Might Be Laid Off? Here’s What To Do

If you are laid off, you might worry that it happened due a performance-related issue on your part. Maybe they considered you a “low performer” even though you were doing your very best. Maybe the layoff blindsides you completely. In any event, don’t panic (I know it’s hard!), and don’t sign anything just yet. Why? Read Lea McLeod’s post on Fast Company for more information.

Using Social Media When You’re Laid Off

When my late father was working his tail off in 1970s corporate America, being laid off was like being accused of a misdemeanor. It simply didn’t happen without a reason, generally a big reason such as embezzlement. That meant that if you were laid off, you scurried off and hid somewhere, not telling anyone what happened. Then the economy and business climate slowly changed. Now, anyone can be laid off at any time for any reason — or for no reason at all. If you get laid off today, climb up on your metaphorical rooftop and shout it to the world. How? For more information, read Kerry Hannon’s article on Next Avenue.

5 Things to do Right Now so You’re Prepared if the Axe Falls

When I was a Boy Scout years ago, they taught us to be prepared. You don’t have to have been a scout, however, to learn how to prepare for emergencies. You buy a fire extinguisher or two for your house in case of fire, right? But what do you do if you fear being laid off? Never fear, because Jason Yormark tells you how to prepare for the worst in a post on Business2Community.

How To Snap Into Job-Search Mode On A Dime

You like your job. You’re good at your job. You’re comfortable in your job. Then something happens. Maybe you are cut in an unexpected round of layoffs. Maybe your spouse lands their dream job, but it’s on the other side of the country and now you both have to move. At any rate, you are now on the job market. So, how do you shake off your complacency and shift into high gear for job hunting? J.T. O’Donnell has the answers in a post on Fast Company.

Everything You Need To Know About Job Hunting

The Career Contessa website has been writing about all things related to careers for some time now. They have thoughtfully rounded up the best advice on the their most popular topics and posted it in one place for your convenience. Might want to bookmark this one for easy reference. Take the knowledge given freely here, couple it with the articles I’ve mentioned above, and you’ll land that job. Go get ‘em, tiger!

Have some tips or tools to share with your fellow technical communicators, information developers, and content creators? Let’s network! Drop me a note: Follow me on Twitter, connect with me on LinkedIn, circle me on Google+, or email me at I enjoy connecting with others in the industry.

Category: The Help FIles

The Help Files: You’ve Been Laid Off. Bah Humbug! – HUB

7 years ago

[…] You all know about the late afternoon shoulder-tap, right? It usually arrives after you have recovered from lunch, but before you can start getting ready to leave for the day. Your boss comes over to you, taps you on the shoulder, and says something like, “Gotta minute?”… continue reading […]

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