No matter how many times Dr. Maguire (Robin Williams) tells Will Hunting (Matt Damon) “It’s not your fault!”, in the movie Good Will Hunting, it feels like it is never going to sink in. Similarly, you may still be blaming yourself for your recent layoffs. Truly, it’s not your fault!

In the defense industry, contracts expire and jobs come and go.  There are constant reductions in force and re-organizations.  How do you get through these difficult times?  Here are a few survival techniques to review when you find yourself on the bad side of a layoff.

Blame Doesn’t Improve Your Situation

  • First…..say it with me, “It’s not my fault!” Do not dwell on the layoff. The more you focus on the negative, the more difficult it will be for you to remember your strengths when you apply for your next job.

Take the Time You Need, then Transition

  • Take some time to heal, breathe, and be thankful for the blessings you do have. Then, move on!  You have been given an opportunity to think about a new line of work and possibly reinvent yourself.  Reflect on transition, as you do not have to continue performing the same work, especially if your career field is evaporating.  Continually look at other industries and occupations and do the work required to get there.

take advantage of benefits and keep on top of your credit

  • Solidify your finances. Sign up for unemployment benefits quickly and reduce your spending.  If you do not have a financial security blanket, change your lifestyle. Talk to your creditors and ask them to reduce your bills until you find another job. You can also find assistance from nonprofit credit counseling.  It may be time to unload those items you’ve been meaning to get rid of, as they may provide some badly needed cash.  Once you get your next job, ensure you have a security blanket for your future employment gap.

Volunteer and Network

  • Stay active, enthusiastic and keep performing the good habits that you developed over the years. Make the bed in the morning and keep working out.  Volunteer, get out and help others.  This not only provides a great service to the community, it also enhances your feeling of well-being and increases your network.

Apply to Jobs and Network with Recruiters

  • Perhaps more easily said than done, work on getting a job. Apply to positions online, but look at methods you have not considered previously.  Join professional organizations and enhance your network.  Contact family and friends.  Network with and through recruiters.  Pursue unspoken opportunities with both.

think outside the full time box

  • Send letters requesting interview to companies in which you desire to work. Go to employment agencies.  You are not limited to using one, especially if they are not producing.  Consider part time or temporary work.  You may not find your desired occupation immediately, but any job is better than sitting at the house.  You will be engaging with people and you can always move on or up from your job.

stay positive

  • Express your thanks, show enthusiasm and initiative, while being flexible with everyone you encounter. Make sure to send ‘thank you’ notes and follow up after each interview; requesting consideration for other opportunities from the organization, should you not be selected.

be open to relocation, if possible

  • Remember to consider moving, geographically. Job availability, good starting salaries and promotion potential are all positive aspects of moving to a more favorable location.  If you have the skills wanted by the contractor at the right time, they will put you to work immediately. You just need to be ready to move, if the job requires you elsewhere.  Consider the move an adventure!

Wishing you a lucrative job search and transition!

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Jay Hicks is an author, instructor and consultant. With a special kinship for military personnel, Jay provides guidance on successful civilian career transition and has co-authored “The Transitioning Military Series”. He is the co-founder of Gr8Transitions4U, where advocating the value of hiring military personnel is the key focus. More about Jay and his passion can be found at