How to Thrive after a Layoff in The Digital Economy

Recent headlines signal the constant disruption that is now a normal part of daily life for many digital and technology workers.

Nintendo’s New Mobile Games Partner Hit With Layoffs:

DeNA and Nintendo secured a deal celebrated by the industry and in the media but 10 days later it was announced the Vancouver studio would be closed and San Francisco layoffs would result.

Zynga Founder Mark Pincus to Return as CEO:

As is customary with most CEO changes, an unsettled workforce instantly goes on the defensive and scrambles to find their next position because experience tells them mass layoff will likely follow.

Viacom Takes $785 Million Charge on Cable Woes:

The restructuring of Viacom’s television networks sends executives and workers into fight or flight. Again, people focus their energies on looking for work instead of being completely focused on moving the company forward.

With massive technological shifts disrupting the labour market, constant re-structuring of companies as well as mergers and acquisitions taking place left and right, workers can easily feel unsteady. Many employees anticipate when mass layoffs may be coming and take proactive actions to mitigate their risk to being left unemployed. With the average job search for highly skilled workers taking as long as 12 months, it is no wonder people engage in a focused job search when feeling insecure about their position.

Getting laid off is traumatic

­­­­When people get laid off, it causes massive trauma. Nearly a quarter of America’s workforce having experienced being laid off at some point during the great recession. It’s a common story I hear. Seven out of ten times, the experience becomes a major set back in an individual’s career. It’s akin to having a hole punctured in your sail. If you don’t quickly repair it, you drift aimlessly. As days roll on by, people quickly lose both momentum and confidence.


Coaching services keep the company moving forward after a restructuring

When restructuring takes place, CEOs exit and/or mass layoffs happen, many employees and management will start to panic. Retreating into fight or flight mode, people prepare for an exit. At the same time, a lot of fear mongering and gossip takes place in the office, which is counter productive to achieving organizational, product, and project goals. A company can quickly get derailed if actions aren’t taken to address employee concerns. Supporting the workforce through coaching services during major transitions can mitigate a lot of unnecessary tension and disengagement among employees. The goal is to get people to focus, innovate and collaborate on the new company vision and not permit a toxic environment to permeate and impact the health of the company. Hiring an external coaching company to work with individuals and support them with the transition helps move the company forward.

You need a personalized strategy to find your next position

When employees are laid off, often well-meaning companies contract outplacement services to assist employees in finding their next position. Unclear as to the most effective approach in terms of dollars, these services are the default strategy. Outplacement agencies cost a company about $2000 per person. Delivering boilerplate resumes, seminars, videos and canned pitches, they don’t offer the needed personalized services. Talents needs unique strategies that address specific individual situations. Tailoring your accomplishments statement to match your digital footprint or refining your elevator pitch on your own isn’t easy for most people. Today’s fast moving connected, and lateral workforce requires a different kind of strategy. Landing a job in this constantly evolving digital economy requires individualized strategies developed through personalized consultation.

After being laid off take the time to learn a new skill

When you lose your job, each day you spend unemployed potential employers can perceive you as out of touch and demotivated. There is no time to waste. Procrastination is not your friend; neither is faith alone that something will just come along in today’s competitive economy. You need to take massive action to appear fresh and focused. The objective is to swing back into motion as quickly as possible. Hiring a career coaching service can keep you motivated providing the necessary support, clear headed strategy and guidance needed to move forward.

According to the US Department of Labor, 65% of the jobs that will exist at the end of the decade have not even been created yet. This means positions will continue to become unnecessary or redundant while new positions will emerge that the majority of workers are not prepared to perform. After losing your job, take a beat and make the commitment to learn a new skill and become better qualified. It will take you further than your competition in the end.


Mass layoffs will continue to be a normal part of work life. We live in an age where change is rapid due to impact of the technological revolution is upon us. It is hard to predict how things are going to evolve, no one knows, except maybe Nicholas Negroponte.

Employers: Keeping your employees engaged to continue innovating, collaborating and driving the strategy is critical during massive shifts and changes in the company.  Career coaches can be helpful in supporting both employees as well as those recently laid off.

Talent: When in the middle of a career crisis, it’s time to work with a career coach to support you and help you make a smooth transition.

The most consistent thing you can be sure of in the digital industry is evolution, renewal and change. FORWARD ensures the human capital behind those companies continues to evolve, renew and change so they can create the curve on their own terms either when they are ready to make some change, or have unexpectedly found themselves in a state of flux. Let’s keep everyone moving forward with policies appropriate for our age instead of relying on old models that don’t cater to today’s landscape.

Caroline Stokes is founder of FORWARD Human Capital Solutions. FORWARD does things differently for people in digital organisations who demand inspiring talent solutions for transformative results.

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