“I’ve been laid off. What now?”

In my parents’ generation, getting fired from a job in India, whether government or private, was kind of rare – sort of unheard of. It was also looked down upon, inviting shame and stigma for the rare few who were fired. More often than not, those who were fired were asked to leave because of massive corruption or severe dereliction of duty.

Not anymore.

Getting fired in India today is neither rare nor because of the employee. In the past few years, organization after organization, in all kinds of industries (IT and publishing, for instance), has done large-scale layoffs. The primary reason for these layoffs is the lack of profits/revenue or ‘change in market conditions’.

But behind every ‘sudden’ layoff is a long history of mismanagement.

Firms hire more than they need, pay top guys more than they deserve, spend more on frills than they should, tolerate wasteful operations, and reward rhetoric over performance.

Every layoff is a promise broken and a dream shattered. But unfortunately, layoffs are now a reality we have to learn to live with.

Both governments and entrepreneurs are pitching for liberal hire and fire laws. So it’s only a matter of time before it’s legislated. I only wish organizations would tell candidates at the time of hiring that, look, we may fire you anytime, so bear that in mind while you work with us. Then it’s less of a promise broken, and we may dream other dreams than the dream of a stable and steady job.

If you still believe in a long-term, stable, and steadily growing job, then you’re being quite naive. Even government employees are being fired these days. I reckon in another twenty-thirty years, everyone would have seen at least one lay-off! So, the better thing to do would be to negotiate your pay package forcefully, spend judiciously, save/invest aggressively, and network/market yourself emphatically.

Have a Plan B ready at all times! What will you do if you’re fired today? How will you look for jobs? Who can you tap? Where can you apply? Is your CV updated? Do you have an elevator pitch? What’s your SWOT? Do you have enough savings? Can you freelance? Do you have another stream of income (dividends, freelance, product sales)? Will you have to change your function? Will you have to change your industry? Will you have to do a course? These are some of the things that you should analyze periodically – while you’re in a job!

In 2022, don’t use the tools and methods of 1980 to look for an income-generating opportunity. Internet and social media are great force-multipliers. Use them!

Don’t be defensive – go all out in telling your friends, family, acquaintances, and network what happened. Push them to find you jobs, assignments, gigs, and more connections. Be open, honest, and proactive about it. What’s there to be shy about? You’re shopping for jobs because you exhausted your last one, and you’re looking for a good deal! That’s all!

You know getting jobs isn’t easy these days. You may have to shoot a hundred bullets before one hits the target. So don’t have too ambitious a conversion ratio in mind. Apply A LOT!

Most importantly, don’t be disheartened – this is not your fault, and this is not the end of the road. If you work smartly, you’ll be back in the race – rat or otherwise – pretty soon.

[I have been laid off more than once in my career. And each time, I got back on my feet once I accepted the reality and stopped dilly-dallying about taking the tough decisions.]

You know what’s funny, though? Organizations asking the laid-off employees to keep it hush-hush, as if that will help protect their reputation or something (god knows what!). Dude, believe me, the market already knows you f*cked up!

Published by Anupam Choudhury

I'm a writer, editor, and blogger from New Delhi, India.

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