In the wake of GM job cuts, learn how to deal with layoffs

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Hanna Horvath, CFP®

Hanna Horvath, CFP®

Managing Editor & Certified Financial Planner™

Hanna Horvath, CFP®, is a certified financial planner and former managing editor at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in NBC News, Business Insider, Inc. Magazine, CNBC, Best Company, and HerMoney.

Published December 3, 2018 | 3 min read

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On Monday, automotive manufacturer General Motors announced it would idle five of its North American plants and lay off around 14,000 employees.

The cuts aren’t expected to begin until next year — but if you think your job is vulnerable, you should prepare. Here's what to do if you're let go from your job.

Don’t panic

Losing your job can be a shock, but it’s important to remain practical.

“Emotions are important in the process, but don’t let that rule your behavior,” said Vicki Salemi, career expert for Monster, an employment website.

While you can go home and drown your sorrows with a pint of ice cream, Salemi recommends putting down the spoon as soon as possible. She said it’s important to deal with a layoff in a proactive way rather than a reactive way.

“Of course, take time for yourself to grieve, but you should start preparing for your next move as early as when you get home,” she said.

Get organized

Once you’ve decided to search for a new job, the best way to get started is, simply, to start.

Salemi recommends tapping a counselor from human resources, if your company has one, who can talk you through the layoff process and offer support while you transition out of the company.

Next, get your resume in order. Add the most recent work experience, and fill any gaps to accurately reflect yourself as a candidate, said Salemi. When adding new work experience, think about the big picture. Write down any quantifiable qualities and specific duties you had. If you picked up any new skills, write those down as well.

Salemi also advises reaching out to friends and family. It may be hard to admit you’ve been let go, but the people around you can be a great support system and serve as networking connections that could land you your next job.

Take this time to evaluate your career path and your long-term goals. Salemi said getting laid off could be a pivot point to a new direction.

“You should be asking yourself what you want to do next,” she said. “Maybe you’ve been in your comfort zone for a while. Maybe it’s time for a new career change or direction.”

Search for jobs that match your qualifications, or to get a good idea of skills you should be beefing up to be competitive in the job market, especially when another recession could be right around the corner. To get you started on where to look, here’s a list of jobs that will likely survive the next economic slump.

Prepare for the inevitable interview question

You should be ready to answer the inevitable question, “Why did you leave your old job?” Salemi said the most important thing is to be honest. Have an answer prepared that explains what happened and what you learned. Learn more about what to tell potential employers about your layoff.


Salemi said getting laid off can help you prioritize what’s important.

“You may realize, ‘This is actually a really good thing, not a bad thing,’ when you look back,” she said. “It’s hard in the moment.”

When you do get a new job, it can be a hard adjustment. Make the transition easier by completing this eight-step money checklist in your first couple of months.

Image: Audrey Shtecinjo

Ever lose a job? Tell us how you moved forward in the comments.