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What advice would you give someone facing a layoff?

  • 1.  What advice would you give someone facing a layoff?

    Posted 10-18-2019 15:48
    For an upcoming Career Connection column, I'll be talking about coping with a layoff or forced early retirement. What advice would you give someone facing either of these challenges?

    Loraine Kasprzak MBA
    Managing Director,Advantage Marketing Consulting Services
    Advantage Marketing Consulting Services
    Westfield NJ

  • 2.  RE: What advice would you give someone facing a layoff?

    Posted 10-19-2019 11:32
    Save as much money as you can

    Vincent Chirico FE
    General Electric
    Glastonbury CT

  • 3.  RE: What advice would you give someone facing a layoff?

    Posted 10-22-2019 11:15
    ​Although I have nver been unfortunate enough to be caught up in a layoff (yet), I have been mindful of the possibilities watching many other colleagues and my own father caught up in one. I have always lived below my means and saved money so I can survive on my emergency fund, which is easily accessible and able to support me for at least 6 months. I also try to keep my resume updated, build connections and try to have a good professional reputation when the time comes. I try to make sure my managers and customers are pleased with my work and find me pleasant to work with. I don't delude myself that I am special or extra fabulous. Ivory tower management looks at all employees as potential cost savings when contemplating staff reductions. I've seen some great employees get caught up in these as well as the lower hanging fruit (ones with behavior problems, incompetent, or poor work ethics).

    Jill Petersen
    Project Manager
    DCP Midstream
    Hobbs NM

  • 4.  RE: What advice would you give someone facing a layoff?

    Posted 10-22-2019 11:33
    The main goal is t be so competent that the company is the disposable one. Always keep your skills relevant, always keep learning and never get too specialized. In my case I am learning PLC programming and electrical controls despite the fact that I am a chemical engineer as a major because it is better to be a Swiss army knife than a specialized tool

    Vincent Chirico FE
    General Electric
    Glastonbury CT

  • 5.  RE: What advice would you give someone facing a layoff?

    Posted 10-23-2019 08:48



    Sent from Mail for Windows 10


    Since one never knows when the next layoff will occur, build your skill set, particularly process safety, and network so that you have continually increasing skills and an extensive network to help find the next job.


    In two instances, my PE was helpful in finding my next job.


    Keep a positive attitude.  I know one associate who had the following experience:

    1. At 9 A he was advised  that he would be laid off at 4 P, with a month's pay in lieu of notice.
    2. At ! P he was interviewed for a different job at the same site.
    3. At 3 P, he was given the new job and told to stop packing.

    One never knows!


    Your personal finances should always be in order with a reserve fund of 6+ months of living expenses.


    Good Luck.


    Dave Eckhardt

  • 6.  RE: What advice would you give someone facing a layoff?

    Posted 10-23-2019 06:12
      |   view attached
    This brochure is a bit dated but a great piece of moral support that was developed by the Chemical Engineering group and share by myself with many people over the years
    You need to keep your spirits up and not to take a layoff personally
    sometimes the fit is just not correct and its time to move on
    chris semonelli
    middletown rhode island

    Christopher Semonelli
    Vice President Sales & Marketing
    Middletown RI


  • 7.  RE: What advice would you give someone facing a layoff?

    Posted 10-23-2019 23:53
    Start looking for another job!

    Peter Chipman
    Prescott Valley AZ

  • 8.  RE: What advice would you give someone facing a layoff?

    Posted 10-19-2019 11:57
    Being laid off was a shock to me.  I had not anticipated that I was at risk.  For the first two weeks, I was in shock.  I went through the normal stages of grief.  Since graduating from university, I had never been without a job.  On top of that, I had not interviewed for a job in 20 years.  Technology had come a long way.  I quickly realized that I was unprepared to find a new job.

    I had a LinkedIn account that I rarely looked at.  I updated my resume and applied for 10 or 20 jobs.  But, I was also vulnerable.  I was contacted by a company that trolls LinkedIn for recently laid off professionals and offered assistance for a fee.  They helped me write a much better resume, gave me training on how to interview, helped me write an "Elevator Statement", and gave me some training on how to use LinkedIn. 

    Shortly thereafter, I also discovered that there were groups in Houston that were run by unemployed professionals whose purpose was to provide morale support, training, and contacts to help unemployed people find new jobs.  I discovered that I could have learned everything I did from the company I hired from these organizations, for a lot less money.  It would have taken longer to learn the same things, but would not have impacted my wallet near as hard.

    I also posted my resume to Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and any other resume web site I could find.  I started publishing articles on LinkedIn about my experiences and managing people.  I was doing everything I could think of to get favorable attention and make new connections.  In a few months, I went from 200 connections to over 3000.  I did have about a dozen phone interviews and half a dozen companies had me come in for face to face interviews.  Most of them came from recruiters I contacted or who had seen my resume on one of the web sites.  The others were from job applications I had submitted. 

    The most serious opportunity came from an application I submitted for a job advertised at a company where I knew a former colleague of mine now worked.  I let him know I had applied and he contacted the HR department the same day.  I was contacted the next day for a phone interview. I was asked to visit the office three times for multiple face to face interviews.  In the end, I lost out to another candidate.  This was another low point, but I redoubled my efforts and soon had more phone and face to face interviews.

    After 8 months, I was called by a recruiter that had seen my resume on ZipRecruiter.  As it turned out, she and I were connected on LinkedIn, but nothing had come from our connection.  She was searching ZR trying to find matches to a profile for a company who had hired her to find candidates.  She submitted my resume and I was hired a month later.

    Condensing my experience into advice,
    1) Get help, both help on how to do things and get morale support to help you through the dark days.
    2) Make finding a job into a job.  I worked 6 to 8 hours a day for 5 days a week looking for job postings, submitting applications, attending training, etc.
    3) Don't spend thousands of dollars for help.  Resume writers cost a couple of hundred dollars.  I used three, learned from each, and have modified my resume several times to highlight certain aspects of my work experience to match job listings.  Check for free training on how to use LinkedIn.  Check for free groups that do things like practice interviews and advise on resume writing.  One of the groups I joined brought in people to make presentations about how to dress for an interview, how to sit and act during an interview, how to answer common questions, what not to say, what is your personality type, etc.

    Dave Ferguson
    Pearland TX

  • 9.  RE: What advice would you give someone facing a layoff?

    Posted 10-20-2019 01:40
    Thanks Dave for your valuable advise! I think it is also useful for everyone who has a job I think.

    Pavan Kumar Naraharisetti
    Assistant Professor
    Newcastle University in Singapore

  • 10.  RE: What advice would you give someone facing a layoff?

    Posted 11-06-2019 05:57
    Indeed very good advice and useful analysis. Thank you very much Dave.

    Sachin Mahajan ING
    Senior Analyst Production Planning
    ADNOC Onshore
    Chorniche, Abu Dhabi

  • 11.  RE: What advice would you give someone facing a layoff?

    Posted 03-24-2020 08:53
    These days a lot of engineers are getting furloughed as nonessential businesses close.  Depending on their area of expertise, consultants are taking a hit too.  Aaron Sarafinas mentioned Laura Burford in his post -- she helps people start and improve their consulting business.  She is the presenter at this month's Virtual Local Section meeting, held three times on March 25th and 26th.  Everyone is welcome and attendance is free.


    Kirsten Rosselot
    Process Profiles
    Calabasas, CA United States

  • 12.  RE: What advice would you give someone facing a layoff?

    Posted 03-25-2020 00:52
    Dave's advice is spot-on, especillay the part about making the hunt for a new job into a job.  I was just let go on Monday due to covid-19 in the northeast where the company is based.  Not my first time either.  Happened in 2009 and again in 2018.  The key is to get up everyday (don't get in the habit of sleeping in), get dressed like you are going to work, get online, and start hunting and applying.  Connect with as many people as you can on LinkedIn and do not be embarrased or ashamed to be in the hunt.  Recruiters are your friends.  Reach out to them and always write well thought-out thank-you letters.  I am doing all of this right now.  Refuse to be allow yourself to stay out of work.  Something will develop with effort.

    Daylen Borders

    Daylen Borders
    Sales Engineer
    Smart Hose Technologies
    Overton TX

  • 13.  RE: What advice would you give someone facing a layoff?

    Posted 10-24-2019 10:24
    Being laid off came as a shock to me, despite the company having already gone through a few downsizing.  For me, it was something of a blessing in disguise, as I had been contemplating setting up as an independent consultant anyway, but it was still bruising to the ego.

    I particularly like Dave Ferguson's and Jill Peterson's responses and agree with their comments and advice.  A couple of additional thoughts:
    - I hadn't realized how much I'd connected my professional and personal life with my company, so things like my email / phone directory was connected to my work email account and at risk of being deleted when I left.  It is important to keep your employer's Intellectual Property inviolate, but it is worth being equally scrupulous in keeping your personal and (independent) professional connections separated.  The same is true if you have a company issued phone; if you have some favorite, but hard to find, websites; if you let your browser remember passwords (not great from a security perspective, by the way); or if you have trade magazines etc delivered to your work address.  If you've written (external) publications, presented at conferences, or developed other public documents, you may want to make sure that you have copies of them.  Make sure you're clear on the ownership of text books or training materials, and remember to bring your stuff with you
    - Make sure you keep in touch with your contacts, both within your company and outside (LinkedIn is great for this).  You definitely do not want to steal customers or poach talent, but on the flip side, if you  have a good relationship with a vendor; delivered an outstanding piece of work in a Joint Development; or were friends with someone who left your company a couple of years ago, those are contacts worth talking to.  I was amazed and gratified at how many former colleagues and contacts were willing to talk to me - some helped point me towards potentially interesting jobs; some offered feedback on my resume and strengths; some offered advice and perspectives on how to set up as a consultant; and most offered moral support and friendship in a time of need.
    - There are groups out there - ChemPharma in the Philly / New Jersey area, for example - that offer support and the opportunity to interact with other professionals.  As well as some practical support and networking potential, I found it gave me a reason to put on professional clothes and have work-like interactions - it's surprisingly tough to go cold turkey on meetings!
    - Consider keeping a list of capabilities that you'd like to develop and interesting problems that you'd like to address some day.  LinkedIn is a powerful tool for connecting you to folks, and like most social media, you generate more buzz if you can put out interesting content, particularly if you can post regularly.  I've also taken the opportunity to develop skills in Python, learnt how to record content for a YouTube channel, vastly improved my statistics and data analysis skills, and much more.  For me, having a longer term plan of things to do helped me stay busy and engaged on some of the darker days.

    Charles Sanderson Wayne PA

  • 14.  RE: What advice would you give someone facing a layoff?

    Posted 10-26-2019 13:19

    Your job does not define who you are.

    I never had to cope with a layoff, but I was a cost-synergy that "elected to retire" in May 2018 at age 58.  No, I was not ready to retire.  I wanted to continue working.  I was lucky that I did have much advance notice of my Last Day of Work so I could plan what I wanted to do and deal with some other issues.  I know that others were not as fortunate as I was in that regard.

    Dave Ferguson made some excellent points in his post.  What he said about the "stages of grief" was very true for me.  I like how he said to get help, get support, and that finding a job IS a job.

    I chose to become an independent consultant, something that I often considered doing if I should be let go.  I knew that there was a customer base for my skill set.  With over 35 years of experience, I felt that there was much that I could deliver to clients in the areas of process development, process troubleshooting, and fluid mixing technology. 

    Later I'll mention some tips on how to see if consulting is for you, but first let me mention some general advice.

    • Know what you may be offered in a separation package. As soon as you get the separation package, have a lawyer review it.  I received some excellent advice from an employment lawyer regarding clauses in my separation package.
    • Know your financial situation and get financial advice. If there is compensation with your severance package, think practically about how long this can tide you over before you start dipping into your savings and how long your savings can last you.   Get some advice about how many months of expenses you should have in your savings and work to get your savings there, long before anyone tells you that you're being laid off.  Start preparing to get let go now.  If you contemplate retirement, understand your pension benefits and your 401k (if you have them), including all the rules and tax implications.
    • Some separation packages offer outplacement services and access to agencies that offer career advice, resume assistance, job search and interview tips. Swallow your pride and take advantage of the wisdom that those professionals offer.  If your soon-to-be-former company is paying for it in the severance package, then use the services and make them pay.  I know that I received some excellent advice from outplacement services.
    • I was surprised at how many people were "in transition," the euphemism for those of us who were looking for the next job after being let go. There are many organizations who provide support, guidance, and opportunities for interaction with those in transition.  I am very glad that Charles Sanderson mentioned the ChemPharma® Professional Association (ChemPharma.org) in his reply.  Not long after I learned that I would be leaving my job, I started attending meetings of the Philadelphia chapter of ChemPharma.  It was a great opportunity to hear some tips, get advice, refine an "elevator speech," and know that I wasn't alone in my search.
    • Keep up with your network. If you don't have a network, start building one.  Be aware and take advantage of your AIChE benefits.  Be a part of your local AIChE and be sure to be a "giving" networker.

    To summarize that general advice, use your resources and don't try to do it all alone.

    Here are some things that I found helpful in considering independent consulting.

    • There is an excellent webinar in AIChE Academy by Dave Dickey on independent consulting. Use your AIChE Credits and watch it.  I found the webinar very helpful as Dave discussed the benefits and challenges of independent consulting, and how it is not for everyone.  Here's the link:  https://www.aiche.org/academy/webinars/so-you-think-you-want-be-private-engineering-consultant
    • Look into the Chemical Consultants Network. CCN is a non-profit organization of chemists and chemical engineers who work as consultants. What I found most useful is that the members were sincerely interested in advising others on how to start and grow their consulting business. Topics for our monthly meetings can include consulting business tips as well as technical topics. CCN is a topical group of the Philadelphia Section of the American Chemical Society and is supported by the National AIChE, with many members outside of the Philadelphia area.  For more information, go to http://www.chemconsultants.org
    • One place that I did not learn about before I started my business, but I am glad that I have found since, is Laura Dallas Burford's consulting guide at https://www.laurasconsultingguide.com . She has excellent insights on how to create a successful consulting practice.

    I am enjoying working as an independent consultant.  Being independent means that I need to take care of everything, including marketing and sales.  I had to learn how to do that, and I took full advantage of a free month of LinkedIn Premium to take a bunch of free courses on relevant topics.  In my work, I am finding it very satisfying to work with clients to understand their needs, work out a proposal, and then collaborate on some excellent technical work.  (I think the technical work ends up being more fun than before because of all the other stuff I need to do for my business.)  It is hard work, but my business has steadily grown over the last year and a half and financially it is working out well.  But if you are considering consulting, look at the resources that I mentioned and consider carefully if consulting is really right for you and for your financial situation.

    Finally, remember that your job does not define who you are.  Sometimes we get working so intensely that we lose sight of what is important.  This may sound cliché, but this "transition" can be an opportunity to find the job that fits who you really are, instead of contorting yourself to fit the job.

    Aaron Sarafinas
    Sarafinas Process & Mixing Consulting LLC
    Warminster PA

  • 15.  RE: What advice would you give someone facing a layoff?

    Posted 10-29-2019 01:54
    As always, very useful advice. Thanks
    As some one who benefited from the advices of people like you at Chemical Consultants Network, I vouch for this organization. I appreciated your time and inputs