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Surviving Layoff Season

It’s that time of year: Layoff season. It seems the sky is falling with mass layoff after mass layoff. Most recently in Austin, we’ve got VMware cutting 577 Austin jobs, 65 Cognizant Technology Solutions workers at Apple’s North Austin doled bad news, Hyliion in Cedar Park cutting about 67% of its staff, Accenture slashing hundreds of jobs in Austin for the third time this year, and LegalZoom calling it quits on its Austin sale division.

“VMware, Cognizant and Accenture’s cuts come as the technology industry nationwide has faced a rocky several years with declining customer demand and job cuts. In Austin, those cuts have occurred at companies including Facebook parent Meta, Google and Dell Technologies,” writes Austin American-Statesman’s Lori Hawkins.

We could talk about how this layoff season isn’t necessarily a bad omen for tech or other industries. That, as the Statesman’s Kara Carlson points out, “Despite a rocky 2023, industry experts say Austin is still strong heading into 2024, even as economic uncertainty remains.” And that, at the very least, as Austin Technology Council CEO Thom Singer addresses, “We’ve had issues in the economy, but the bottom didn’t fall out.”

But we know that’s not necessarily helpful when you’ve just lost your job, or signs are pointing to a reduction that may hit you directly. So, instead, take a few minutes and remind yourself to do the following:

Separate fact from fiction. Layoff anxiety can be crippling, but it’s important to recognize that it’s rooted in fear and not necessarily reality. We love this advice from Melody Wilding, a master social worker, coach, and author, to control what you can and try to separate the facts from what you may be imagining. Has your manager asked you to implement cost-saving measures? Are you being pushed out of meetings you previously participated in?

But always be prepared. Fortunately, it’s a great time of year for the best possible way to overcome a layoff or layoff fears: networking. Referred candidates are nearly 10 times more likely to be hired than other job applicants. It’s simple math: Networking—making and renewing connections with others—can better position you for referrals when the time comes. Not good at networking? Don’t underestimate yourself. Head to our blog for advice, including how to work a room and networking for awkward people. And don’t be afraid to connect with recruiters who can discretely help you get a head-start on a potential new job search.

Assess what’s important to you. Change happens, and sometimes it’s for the best. We don’t like being forced into it, but you can’t grow if you don’t embrace change, right? Instead of waiting around to be the victim, take this time to truly assess what you want. Are you happy in your position? Why do you think it may be at risk? Is the company failing? Is your role not as important as it once was? If you can ask yourself these hard questions, you may find that you’re yearning for change after all. Perhaps the exercise may open you up to a more valuable and fulfilling job within your current company, or it could ease your fears by accepting that a job with values or benefits more aligned with what you want could be a good thing.

Keep an eye out here. We’ve got a lot more to say about this subject. Keep an eye out in January for a series on bouncing back stronger than ever after being laid off. Here’s a preview: While these big national companies undergoing massive layoffs get all the buzz, we’re seeing that hiring and employment among local, private companies remain strong. By separating fact from fiction, staying prepared through networking, and reassessing your priorities, you can emerge from a layoff more resilient and confident than ever.

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