COVID-19 Layoff Survival Guide

There are things in this world you just can’t control. The Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) is definitely one of them.
People all over the world have been laid off and furloughed by companies who are being forced to respond to an economy that is in full arrest. The COVID-19 Layoff Survival Guide was put together to help you return to work fast when the danger has passed.

COVID-19 is not your fault.

  • You can’t control the global economy.
  • You can’t control your company’s slowing momentum.
  • You can’t control what your company does to stay afloat.

It’s just the way the world is now given the tightly integrated economies and supply chains, which are global.

Losing your job often means you’re losing friends, your social support network and a big chunk of your identity. Any change that radical, especially one you can’t control, is going to be incredibly stressful. You’re going to be hit by a flood of negative emotions, and that’s okay.

The first thing you need to do is to feel them; get them out of your system. If you try bottling them up, you’ll only make yourself sick.


The second thing you need do is focus on the things you can control.

If you have been laid off because of COVID-19, then this is a great time to reflect on your career and make a change for the better when the economy does return, especially if your employer has no plans or means to compensate you for the forced time off. No one knows how long people’s work will be disrupted.

  • Now is the time to look ahead and focus on you.
  • You can control how you take this.
  • You can control what you choose to do.
  • You can control where you go next.

First Steps: Get Support – Move Forward – Avoid the Rut – Regain Control – Make Your Job Search a Full time Job

You’re Entitled to Support – Get it!

The very first thing you need to do is secure your immediate financial future. Unfortunately, that’s a topic that’s a bit too individual and nuanced for us to dive into here. We suggest you look at your governments resources to see what you’re entitled to.

Discard the notion of pride or shame when thinking about employment insurance. Please, please, please use the resources you’re entitled to. By the very definition of the word, you have a right to these services and financial buffers:



past tense: entitled; past participle: entitled

    1. give (someone) a legal right or a just claim to receive or do something. “employees are normally entitled to severance pay”

You’ve paid taxes and supported your government your entire career. Every paycheck, you pay money into these programs specifically so that they can be there in times of crisis.
This is a time of crisis.
Use them.

Move forward

Jay Conrad Levinson the author of “Guerrilla Marketing” and my coauthor for “Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters” wrote the Foreword for my first book In the foreword Jay says, 

It’ll take you 10 minutes to read what I’ve written, and in that time, you’ll discover the two most important lessons every job hunter needs to be taught:

  1. How to find your ideal job; and
  2. How to actually land that job.

Hint: You want to be hunted on LinkedIn for the best jobs that suit your unique skills and abilities.

Avoid the Rut

Your first and most important step is ensuring you stay motivated. Being laid off is traumatic all on its own. One of the less discussed ramifications of sudden unemployment is the erosion of your daily routine. All those small tasks and safeguards you have in place to keep you motivated and healthy while you work shouldn’t suddenly disappear because you’re no longer clocking in in the mornings. And yet, without the framework of your job’s schedule to build around, it’s incredibly easy for that to happen. Later we’ll discuss how you can fill in the newfound gaps in your schedule, but for now it’s paramount that you recognize what you’ve been doing outside of work to support your physical and mental well-being is still important.

So, maintain your routine, even in spite of those huge gaps in your schedule now. You’ll find it much easier to get out of bed in the morning if you don’t stop getting out of bed in the morning. Motivation is a habit built on the backs of tiny victories, and there’s no reason to start from square one just because you’ve been laid off or layoffs have hit your industry.

So don’t.

Additionally, don’t let anyone — you included — doubt you’re a valuable professional. Don’t let being laid off undermine your sense of self-worth. Your job does not define you. Instead, reframe your thoughts. Remember, you can’t control everything, but you can control some things.

Regaining Control

Easier said than done right? Surprisingly not!
Since you haven’t thrown your daily routine out the window, you should have noticed some pretty sizeable, ideally 8 hour long, gaps in your schedule. Instead of lamenting the loss of your job, you’re going to dedicate those 8 hours to your job search.

And I mean 8 solid hours every day of networking (by email, phone and in person), following up on resumes you’ve submitted, researching companies you want to work for, responding to job postings, and other leads, etc.

There are two reasons you want to do this.

The first is that by dedicating this time to your job search, it will be much easier to maintain your routine. Think of it as replacing the major framework you originally built your day-to-day around. By doing so, you can regain control of your career trajectory, instead of allowing it to careen off a cliff. Remember, it’s your time, and

YOU control how you use it.

The second reason is because, contrary to what you may have been told, finding a job takes a lot less time than you’d think. In fact, on average you’ll find and land your ideal job in about 4 weeks.

If “too good to be true” alarm bells are going off in your head, good! It means you actually know how much work goes into finding a job. However, there’s a lot of misinformation surrounding job search, so we’re going to de-mystify some things.

The Case for Making Your Job Search a Full Time Job

I love math… I know crazy eh.
I started doing this math trick up on stage live at seminars a few years ago because when I’m finished, it’s one of those duh moments, and I love watching my audience’s faces when it hits them.
There are two important numbers we’re going to look at: 48 and 39.

  • 48 is the number of minutes the average job hunter spends per day looking for a job. They spend this time checking job boards for new opportunities, leaving voicemails to follow up on jobs they’ve applied for, and tinkering with their cover letter or resume. (Fortune magazine)
  • 39 is the number of weeks it takes the average job hunter to find their next job. They spend these weeks doing the above, and not much else. (US Labor Board of Statistics)

So in reality, the average North American job hunt takes:

39 weeks x 5 days/week x 48 min/day ÷ 60 mins/hour = 156 hours
156 hours ÷ 40 hours/week = 3.9 weeks

156 hours. That’s how long it takes. Divided over a 40-hour work week, that’s just a little under 4 weeks. Which begs the question: why does it usually take 39 weeks?
Because spending 48 minutes a day looking for a job isn’t a full-time job. But then this begs another question: why is the average job hunter only spending 48 minutes a day looking for work?
Because they don’t know what else to do. They’re alone, usually without direction or guidance, and they don’t have a plan. Job coaches tell job hunters that the key is networking and perseverance, and they’re right, but these require direction and strategy. Without both, you aren’t going to get anywhere quickly, no matter how hard you bang your head against the wall. We’ll come back to these in a minute, but first let’s look at the numbers:

4 weeks vs. 39 weeks

If your goal is to find work as quickly as possible, it should be obvious that making your job search full-time is what you should do. Which brings us to the real question: How?

Next Steps: Get Direction – Career Clarity – Draw Your Map & Battle Plan – Apply the 80/20 Rule – Answer the $64,000 Question


Get Direction – Where am I going and how do I get there?

Wanting a job and actually getting a job are two entirely different beasts, and you’ll need to slay both in order to succeed.
We all know what it’s like to want a job with no way of actually getting it. The result is frustration and a degradation of self-worth. A lot of us (but thankfully not all) also know what it’s like to have a job without wanting it. The result is also frustration and a degradation of self-worth.
So let’s answer our first question: where am I going?
The answer is, where do you want to go? I know that sounds a little patronizing, and it’s supposed to, but seriously, where do you want to go? If you can’t answer that question, that’s fine, it just means you currently lack direction. You can figure out your direction by developing career clarity. If you don’t do this, you’ll have a hard time resisting the temptation to take the first opening that comes along. You’ll have a job a job without necessarily wanting it.
So how do you develop career clarity?

Career Clarity

You do it by assessing your value and your passion:

To assess your value: look back on your work experience and pick out the 3-4 most valuable and marketable skills you want to use in your next job. You have the freedom to decide. This is the most important step you can take and so I’ve gotten permission to link to Day 1 Task 1 from MyNewJobHunt’s Job Search Boot Camp: This 17 page detailed instruction guide also has a link to a career clarity video that you should watch.

To assess your passion: look back on your work experience and pick out the 3-4 most enjoyable/memorable experiences. What about these experiences makes them stick out so much? How do they align with your own interests and passions? Make a list of the elements that these experiences were made from and keep them in mind during your job search.

By doing the two activities above, you’ll end up with a list of what you can do, why you want to do them, and how these translate to results in your career. Employers want engaged workers. If you align your personal interests with a career that uses your talents and interests you, it’ll be easier to get hired by hypervigilant recruiters, HR personnel and hiring managers. If you’re passionate or at least enjoy what you’re doing and or the skills you’re using, you’re easy to manage and less of a flight risk if hired. So take the time to figure it out.

  • You’ll have a clear picture of what you want.
  • You’ll have a clear picture of what you’re worth.
  • You’ll have career clarity.

And with career clarity comes direction.
So great, you know where you’re going and what kind of opportunities you want to pursue. That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t actually tell you how to get them.
You have direction, but no plan.
Which brings us to our second question: how do I get there?

Drawing Your Map and Battle Plan

You know what you want to do. Great! Now you need to turn wishful thinking into action. The first step in that process is determining who employs that kind of position.
Make a list of your top 20 companies that employ the position or skill set you’ve narrowed in on. Don’t worry about whether they’re actively looking for staff. Consider this a semi-Wish-list. I say semi because your endgame is to turn that wish into reality. For now, just hunt down their contact info, and do some general research on the companies.
Once you’ve done that, you need to an efficient strategy for targeting and messaging them. I say messaging, because a lot of the information you want them to know won’t be anything you actively tell them. Instead, you must convey your value and qualifications for the position you want.

Show don’t tell.

You can certainly tell people you’re an authority on a subject, a superstar or anything you like. They may even believe you at face value. However, it’s much more effective to put out the digital breadcrumbs needed for them to come to that conclusion on their own.

Show don’t tell.

By doing it this way, you take the salesiness out of your sales pitch. Moreover, you don’t actually need to have sales skills to sell yourself in this way. You will still be selling yourself, but it becomes a lot more effective (and easier) when you have the subconscious messaging in place alongside your active messaging.

Show don’t tell.

So, what do you show then? And to answer that question, we need to digress a little and talk about the 80:20 rule.

Apply the 80/20 Rule to Your Job Search

What if I told you that 80% of what you’re doing every day in your job search is a total waste of time? Well, it’s true, according to the Pareto Principle.
Let me explain …

Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923) was an Italian economist who found that 20% of the Italian people owned 80% of that country’s wealth. But what’s fascinating about his discovery, also called the 80/20 Rule, is that its implications go far beyond economics.

Examples: 20% of your carpeting gets 80% of the foot traffic … 20% of any sales force produces 80% of sales … 20% of your customers cause 80% of your problems, etc.

In other words, a small number of factors produce most of your results, in a ratio of about 20:80.

What does this mean for your job search?

About 20% of what you do accounts for 80% of your results. Conversely, 80% of what you’re doing to find a new job is producing only 20% of your results — it’s largely a waste of time.

So, to get hired faster, you must focus like a laser on the 20% of your actions that produce 80% of your employment leads. You do this by assessing your alignment with the company. Adjust your plan after a few days to do more of what’s getting you results and less of what’s not. In effect, your creating your personal 80/20 rule.

But first, what the heck is alignment?

Alignment Starts by Answering The $64,000 Question — Why you?

Your biggest challenge in finding a new job may be credibility, according to Rick Maurer, author of “Why Don’t You Want What I Want?”
“Why should I hire you when there are so many candidates with experience and credentials?” That’s the question going through many employers’ minds.
My single best piece of advice is to put yourself in the shoes of the person who’s hiring. What does the world look like through their eyes? What might they be afraid of if they hire you? Finding answers to these ‘unasked’ questions can lead to your next job,” advises Maurer.
And of course, the first reason may be because you’re not articulating your value properly. Remember, all employers want to know from you – even before they meet you – let alone hire you – is what can you do for me? Will you increase my business’s value? Save me money? Increase my efficiency? You’re resume, cover letter, voicemails, and emails must explain that before you even get your first meeting.
Start looking at your candidacy through their eyes and your already ahead of 99% of your competition — all the other job hunters who want to talk to your prospective employer. Moreover, you’ll know what makes up the 20% of your job search that you need to focus on. Your conscious and subconscious messaging need to speak to this.

Final Steps: Conscious Messaging – Subconscious Messaging

Conscious Messaging – Build your “Brag Book”

All jobs will require you to submit a resume that’s clear, concise and focused on results. But don’t stop there, build a portfolio of what you’ve done on the job, and then assemble it in a 3-ring binder to show employers.
You first learned how to do this in kindergarten. It’s called show-and-tell. You’re just going to amp it up a tad! You need to do this when job hunting because most people remember 5% of what they just hear but combine that with pictures and it jumps to 90%. We’ll use that to your advantage.
So, what do you include? Try awards, technology certifications, articles written about you and examples of your business successes. Have a great report you wrote or an article that you can legitimately share? Leave that behind. Don’t use anything that is confidential to your previous employers though… it sends the wrong message.
I have material – besides my business card — which I leave behind. I wrote “Don’t Hire a Liar” and “Leadership in an Industry 4.0 World’’ to demonstrate to prospects that I’m not just another pretty face. Do the same or find an article that you could leave behind to make the point.
Face it, if it’s worked for me for three decades and all the students who’ve come through our job search boot camps, it can work for you too.
This technique has produced breakthrough results for years. The reason why is shockingly simple: very few job seekers take the time to put together a knockout brag book. But when you’re laid off, time is something you definitely do have… so make the most of it!
And of course, you’ll want to replicate some – but not all of that – on your LinkedIn Profile. More on LinkedIn shortly.

Create Your Perfect Pitch

Once you’ve chosen a job to seek, create a 30-second commercial about yourself. What’s most valuable about you? Your years of experience? Your technical expertise? The money you saved or earned for employers? This should be backed up by your brag book, your LinkedIn profile and of course your resume and cover letters.
Your sales pitch should answer the question in every employer’s mind: “Why should I hire you?” And make it so intriguing that when you say it, listeners respond: “Oh? How do you do that?”
Example: “I’m a help desk manager who brings order from chaos, with 5 years of experience and a CS degree. In my last role, I found a way to save 21 staff hours per week and $96,000 in annual expenses.”

Subconscious Messaging – How to be Hunted on LinkedIn

Put Social Media on autopilot to help employers find you … and beg to hire you! It ain’t hard! Setting up a free account on LinkedIn is a piece of cake. So’ let me show you how to leave digital breadcrumbs for your ideal employer to find that prompts them to call you!
The main reason for having a profile is to showcase yourself to the world, so make sure you are getting noticed for all the right reasons. All jobs are temporary now so you must emphasize who you are and where your career is heading.
Here are 8 ways to achieve positive exposure, avoiding common LinkedIn pitfalls, as taken from Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.5” remember, everything in your LinkedIn profile must match up with your other marketing materials like your resumes and cover letters.

  1. LinkedIn is not social media: It’s important that you update your status on a regular basis, to show you’re an active member of the community. Ideally these should be insightful and thought-provoking. However, remember that LinkedIn is a professional networking site, not a social media one. A status update opening with “OMG!! Have you seen…” is acceptable on Facebook, but it won’t win you any respect on LinkedIn.
  2. Don’t lie: It’s tempting, but risky, to be economical with the truth on your resume. It’s even more dangerous on LinkedIn. If you lie about qualifications or job history, you’re much more likely to get found out. Prospective employers may be linked to your connections and ask them for an opinion on you. This can do a lot of damage to your reputation if they expose flaws in your profile that they then share with others.
  3. Be welcoming: Your profile should be professional but welcoming. In reality you might be a taskmaster who is regimented and by the book in everything you do, but if this comes through in the tone of your writing, it may not read well. You can still express these qualities but take care about the terms in which you describe them. Don’t be afraid to smile in your profile photo or to put warmth into your words.
  4. Lead with a Strong summary: Just like on a resume, your personal summary on LinkedIn is the primary place you need to sell yourself. Keep it concise. A single paragraph, aiming for no more than five sentences. Focus on who you are, what you do best and where you want to be. You need these words to turn heads.
  5. Attention to detail: Pay attention to details with your profile. Read it back to yourself twice and get someone else to proofread as well if you can. Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors will be an instant turn-off, and potential employers will question whether you afford the same lack of care to your work. It’s worth investing the time to get it right first time.
  6. Upload your photo: A profile without a photo is less engaging. Adding your photo lends credibility and personality to your words. However, make sure it’s an appropriate image that exudes the qualities you want to promote. It doesn’t have to be professionally produced, but lazily copying your Facebook profile picture of you at that 21st birthday party when you hilariously wore your underwear on your head, is not advisable.
  7. Skills and endorsements: Adding skills shows the community what you can do and what experience you have. But don’t overload your profile by trying to cover everything you’ve ever done. Think about what you are good at and choose skills that relate not only to the role you’re in now, but the role you want to be in next. Don’t fabricate skills. You need endorsements from your contacts to validate them, and that’s unlikely to happen if no one has witnessed you demonstrating them.
  8. Get recommendations: Recommendations are a great way to get a personalized endorsement of your skills and achievements. Much more so than endorsements of your selected skills do. The impact of another LinkedIn user, particularly one of a senior standing, giving a personal recommendation, can be powerful. Don’t be afraid to ask for a recommendation, but it’s worth discussing with the person before you send a request. Reference to a specific achievement will make the recommendation more believable.

Follow these simple guidelines and you’ll build a comprehensive and coherent profile that will get you noticed quickly, and help you build connections fast. You’ll also avoid falling into any of the common traps that threaten to undermine your reputation. Create yourself a striking LinkedIn presence, get your head above the crowd, get noticed and you’ll be hunted for the best jobs. Remember it’s always easier to answer your phone than to get someone else to pick up theirs.
Jay Conrad Levinson concluded his Forward to my first book with these words:
covid-19 layoff survival guide
I was very fortunate to write three books with Jay. It changed my life! Now I have the privilege of sharing my knowledge as a headhunter with others.

I hope the ideas in the COVID-19 Layoff Survival Guide help you find a new job and live a more fulfilled life. When you do, remember to pay it forward by sharing this article and teaching others what worked best for you.
In the immortal words of Dr. Spock,

“Live Long and Prosper!”



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