Author: Brad Veal
Nearly every day we read about the latest organizational restructuring. In 2023, the number of planned job cuts jumped 98% over 2022, according to a January 2024 report by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray, and Christmas.1 Among many industries undergoing restructuring and layoffs, more than 100 healthcare systems cut jobs in 2022.2
We all know colleagues who have experienced a job loss, and our sympathies are genuine. However, what should you do if you have to face this situation?
Having worked over the past 30 years with hundreds of leaders experiencing job loss, I can say there's no formula to land your next position. Instead, those who have survived and even thrived after this tumultuous experience share several behaviors.
Allow time to grieve
Losing your employment is one of life's most stressful experiences. Impacts ripple across personal and professional relationships, as well as our mental, emotional and even physical health.3 We often define ourselves by what we do professionally and place significant value on the friendships and social outlets of the workplace.
During layoff, however, our entire paradigm shifts. Many action-oriented leaders struggle to gear down. However, it's imperative to take time to process what has happened and understand it's normal to grieve this loss. You may feel hurt, angry, anxious and depressed. Don't punish yourself for these feelings. Instead, look for silver linings where you can find them, and lean on family and friends. You're not in this alone.
Take advantage of outplacement resources
Many organizations offer departing leaders some version of outplacement services. These services could include assistance writing your resume, career counseling, office space and professional coaching. Take advantage of all services available. While a great resume won't land your new job, a poorly written one will stop your progress at the gatekeeper. If you have access to an office and career guidance, the daily routine and industry expertise afforded could prove invaluable.
Network, network, network
Isolation can impair your journey — social contact is nature's antidote to stress. Whether it be former coworkers or friends, reach out and connect with others frequently. In addition, work to expand your social and professional network when possible. Find and take advantage of numerous clubs and groups, as well as volunteer and community activities where you will meet new people.
Introduce yourself to executive search firms
While executive search firms may not be working on a position and/or location matching your background or specific geographic needs, initiating a potentially long-term relationship with one could be pivotal to your career.
Gallagher's Executive Search practice is a team of consultants and recruiters with breadth and depth across many industries nationally. We recognize the importance of maintaining our pipeline of leadership talent. We'll gladly listen to your story and offer helpful advice, from simple resume tips to professional introductions.
Take care of yourself
A job search is stressful, so don't neglect your physical and mental health. Develop a daily routine, incorporating work-related activities balanced with time for exercise and meditation. Renew hobbies and try new activities, travel and explore, volunteer and spend time in nature.
You may not have enjoyed this much free time in years, so use it to your advantage. Exercise is extremely important, as is sleep. Attention to diet and self-care will do wonders for your confidence and self-esteem as you begin the interview process.
Some days will be better than others as you proceed through this journey. Control what you can and be prepared for detours along the way. Do your best to stay positive and always remember you have value.
The experience of a job loss is painful, and yet it may deepen you in ways you may not initially realize. From setback to comeback, in reflecting on this experience several years from now, you may recognize it as an important turning point in your life.
Gallagher's Executive Search advisors are leaders in executive search services. From Fortune 500 corporations to private equity firms to nonprofit agencies, we have the instinct and market intelligence to match candidates to an organization's culture. Contact our team to discuss your leadership search needs.