What To Do If You're Laid Off

With the economy in a downturn, reading about layoffs or knowing people who are losing their jobs are increasingly common experiences.

"It's exactly what I fear could happen to me any day," says Marci Alboher, who writes the blog "Shifting Careers" for The New York Times. "This could be just around the corner."

It is indeed just around the corner for NPR's Bryant Park Project, whose last broadcast is this Friday. The staff is experiencing the national layoff trend firsthand, but Alboher says that there's lots that BPP folks, and others who find themselves in a similar position, can do.

At the top of the list: Don't be ashamed.

Alboher says that isolated layoffs, or individual firings, are very different from workforce reductions or downsizings. In this economy especially, she says, people don't view being laid off as an employee's fault. "The shame question shouldn't even enter your head," she says.

Alboher also says that being laid off can lead some people to make career-improving choices. "After they have time to cool off," she says, "they'll realize that maybe this wasn't the best place to be."

"When you know you're on your way out," says Alboher, "the No. 1 thing to do is make a graceful exit." Write a nice parting e-mail to your company and write hand-written notes of appreciation to people you are close to. Make sure that people at your company and elsewhere know how to reach you in case other work comes up.

Although you may be tempted to use the opportunity to be honest about the negative aspects of your job, don't vent your anger publicly or in e-mail. Save that for your private, written journal or conversations with family and close friends.

As an example of what not to do, Alboher cites a former Bloomberg company employee who unleashed "a torrent of anger" and personal secrets about many others at the media giant in a recent e-mail. It was sent to hundreds of people in the company, who then forwarded it on to thousands of others. It's now making its way around the Internet. "I can't imagine this guy is going to get another job," says Alboher.

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