Martha Finney’s Rebound: A Proven Plan for Starting Over After Job Loss (FT Press, 2009) is a must-read for everyone who is concerned about getting laid off and who wants to prepare themselves emotionally, professionally and financially for if and when they get a pink slip. The book is also useful for people who’ve already been laid off and who may be struggling to move on.
In Rebound, Finney, a human resources and leadership communications consultant, systematically explains what a layoff is like, how to prepare yourself emotionally and financially for an imminent job loss, your rights during a layoff, and how to handle being laid off in the moment (e.g. right when your boss is explaining that your job had to be cut and is handing the severance agreement to you). Finney also provides a comprehensive plan for finding a new job, talking about your job loss in job interviews and for evaluating job offers.
Finney supplements her clear, sensible and friendly counsel with recommendations from other career management, legal and financial experts. Additionally, she includes insightful lessons learned from people who’ve been laid off. For example, a man who worked for a Silicon Valley-based company shares his story of being blindsided by a layoff and warns job seekers against wasting precious time applying to jobs online when they should be networking. A labor lawyer reminds workers age 40 and over that they shouldn’t feel pressured to sign a severance agreement: Under the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act they have 21 days to consider a severance package before signing it.
In addition to all the advice, the book contains two key messages: The first is that you can do everything right in your job and still get laid off, so don’t beat yourself up over it if you do. Finney notes that there’s no rhyme or reason to layoffs these days and that everyone is vulnerable. It’s not a very hopeful message, but Finney’s point is that people have the power to take control: They can recognize that they are vulnerable and they can take measures to mitigate the impact of a layoff on their lives. (And of course, Finney highlights a variety of actions people can take to prepare themselves: e.g., they can stock pile cash by temporarily reducing or eliminating 401K contributions and they should see doctors and dentists while they still have health insurance.)
Finney’s second message is more positive: Getting laid off is difficult, for sure, but it is not the end of the world, nor the end of your career. “A lot of people assume this is the end of their career,” Finney told me in a recent phone interview. “But it’s not the end of their life’s work. It’s just a moment in time. They may have taken your job away from you, but they haven’t taken away your profession.”
You could probably find all of advice contained in Rebound in various places on the Web (including CIO.com), but the advantage of Finney’s book is that it’s all in a single, eminently readable 173-page volume. (You could probably skim through it in a weekend.) The chapters are short, and they conclude with three quick tips: The best thing you can do; the worst thing you can do; and the first thing you should do. The book ends with an Appendix in which Finney sums up all of her and her colleague’s recommendations in eight pages of bullet points, making the lessons of Rebound even more accessible to stressed-out, time-pressed readers.
Stay tuned for more of Martha Finney’s advice on CIO.com. And for more information on how to cope with a layoff, see 7 Secrets for Surviving a Layoff in a Recession and 20 Tips for Surviving a Layoff from Someone Who’s Been There.