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On this page: Recognizing the signs of a pending layoff as well as how to handle it if it happens to you are key survival skills for the 21st century.

Survive Being Laid Off

By Susan P. Joyce

Sometimes you can see the layoff coming, and sometimes you can't (see Signs of a Pending Layoff for some of the clues).

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But, one day you're invited into an unscheduled meeting with your boss and someone from HR. *BINGO* - you're out of a job.

Welcome to the crowd of formerly laid off employees!

[I've been laid off twice, and I know how it feels. Interestingly, I think both of those layoffs were ultimately good for my career and my bank account. I wish the same for you!]

People are usually laid off for being in the wrong place at the wrong time in an organization which has decided it needs to cut expenses, specifically the people costs it has.

Don't expect logic in who gets laid off and who doesn't, which departments survive and which don't, etc. There is often no discernable logic involved.

Being selected to be laid off is often just bad luck. Don't feel like you are a failure.  If anyone has failed, it is the management of the organization.  Don't let the layoff destroy your confidence.

Do's and Don'ts for Surviving Your Layoff

Do's - Pre-Notification

If layoffs are happening or if the feeling of many employees is that layoffs will be happening soon, get started.

Do's - When and After They Give You the News:

Once you have had the official meeting and gotten the official notice that you have been laid off, collect your personal belongings from the workplace, and then...

Do NOT's - Don't Do These Things After Your Layoff

Some things are better not done!

Look ahead to your future!

Strangely, being laid off can be a good thing. We often stay in jobs we don’t like out of inertia – too busy, or not quite unhappy enough to make the effort to find a new job. A layoff pushes us "out of the nest" into an involuntary job search -- which can lead to a better job, a promotion, a career change, and, even, more money and happiness! See Involuntary Change Can Be Good for another perspective.

Additional information: See Nancy Collamer's excellent Website for MORE tips and information.

About the author...

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.