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I Just Got Laid Off … Now What?


So you’ve just been laid off … and you’re hit with a whirlwind of emotions. And you begin to ask yourself the following questions: What do I do now? How will I feed my family? Where will I find work?

All of these questions are valid concerns, but it’s important to remember you’re not alone in this – 150,000 some odd workers have experienced the same thing in recent months due to the sharp dip in oil prices that began late 2014.

There is life after layoff.

What to do First

While it’s natural to have feelings after being laid off, it’s important to keep them at bay long enough to plan your next steps. According to certified career coach Lisa Quast, the very first thing an oil and gas employee should do immediately after being laid off is finding out what’s included in their layoff package – which typically includes severance pay that covers two weeks of pay for every year the employee worked at a company plus continuation of medical benefits for a set period of time.

What should come next, Quast told Rigzone, is a conversation about outplacement services – which helps laid off employees make their transition easier.

Lindsay Witcher, director of practice strategy for RiseSmart, a company which offers outplacement services, told Rigzone her company’s service is unique in that it partners each individual with a team of three people – a career coach, professional resume writer and job concierge – to help with the transition. They’re a business-to-business (B2B) company, meaning employers reach out to them when they expect to have layoffs. RiseSmart then reaches out to the laid off individuals immediately. She said individuals who work with them land jobs in 82 days, which is 61 percent faster than the national average of 209 days, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In addition to questions of layoff packages and outplacement services, laid off employees should also ask their manager and/or other employees for recommendation letters. This should be done prior to exiting the office, Quast said.

“Recruiters like to see recommendations from previous bosses, coworkers and people who reported to you (if you were a manager) because this helps give them a broader view of the type of employee you were,” she said.

Witcher said she has found that job-seekers often want help branding themselves.

“They understand how important it is to have themselves represented well on paper and online,” she said. “You have to learn how to stand out in today’s job market. Your accomplishments are what make you unique.”

Attacking the Job Search

Many employees are tempted to jump right into the job search immediately after being laid off, however Quast said that could be a job-seeker’s biggest mistake – “not taking time to process all the emotions associated with being laid off.”

Quast described the layoff as going through a grieving process, especially if they’ve been at a company for 10 or more years. She said it’s important to take time to grieve and get through the emotional rollercoaster they’re riding. Taking a few days or even a week to process everything will allow individuals to get back in job search mode with a clear head and level emotions.

“Think about your last job and previous jobs and contemplate if you’d like to find a similar job or one that’s slightly different,” said Quast. “The more specific you can get in the type of job you want next, the easier it will be for you to target those jobs in your job search process and to customize your resume.”

It takes strategy in the job search along with a little resume customization.

“Don’t just upload your resume to oil and gas job boards and expect the jobs to find you,” Quast said.

She offers the following tips for laid off employees to customize their resume:

  • Research to find job postings online for the specific types of jobs you want
  • Download and analyze your resume against each job description. For each job requirement, write down whether you meet, partially meet or don’t meet that requirement
  • Customize and keyword your resume. For every requirement you meet, somewhere on your resume, you should explain that you have that skill, experience or education. Use the same words in your resume that are used in the job posting when you describe your “proof” of how you meet a requirement
  • Add a “Skills Summary” section near the top of your resume. This not only helps draw a recruiter or hiring manager’s eyes to your best qualities, it will help your Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) keyword ranking
  • Conduct research online to find job openings that fit your area of expertise and follow the previously-mentioned process to customize your resume for each job, before applying online
  • Analyzing yourself against each requirement in a job posting and then customizing your resume will also help prepare you for phone and in-person interviews because you’ll already have considered each area where you meet, exceed or partially meet requirements. This process will allow you to speak to each of those areas and answer any specific questions from recruiters and hiring managers

Networking Plays a Part

As many are aware, oil and gas is a people industry and networking is key, though individuals often neglect to network after they’ve been laid off, said Witcher.

“Most people rely on what’s comfortable and that’s sitting behind your computer shooting out your resume and hoping somebody calls you back,” said Witcher, who refers to this as the “spray and pray” approach. “What you find out rather quickly is you have to do more than that to be effective. As much as 80 percent of jobs are found via networking.”

Jobs acquired through networking can take several different forms (finding the job online, but knowing someone at the company who was able to push your resume up the ranks; a close friend telling you about an open position within their company and you applied, etc.).

“Networking is really about helping others and through that approach, what goes around comes around,” said Witcher. “When opportunities for new jobs arise, people will think of you.”

Witcher said individuals who have worked in oil and gas probably have a larger network than they realize.

“It’s important to take a step back and think, ‘who do I know?’” said Witcher. “Think broadly – not just people you worked with directly but people in other departments. You never know who may be the perfect connection to get you to that next job. Leverage the fact that it is a close-knit industry.”

Quast added that trade associations are a good place to network for job openings.

“While you’re building your network within the oil and gas industry, don’t forget to stay in touch with other employees who were also laid off, and even with those who weren’t, because you never know where a job opening lead will come from.”

Keeping Morale Up

By maintaining a positive attitude and can-do spirit, giving themselves inner pep talks, setting daily and weekly job search goals and celebrating small victories, job-seekers can help keep up morale during the job search, said Quast.

It’s imperative to set up a support system – a team of either family members, close friends or maybe even other laid off comrades – who can provide encouragement and assistance while searching for a job.

“It can be difficult and sometimes discouraging to find a job if you are going through the job search process alone,” Quast said.

She added it’s important to weed out negative people who always make negative comments about anything an individual is doing while looking for a job.

“One way to identify these people is by the way you feel when you’re around them. Often times, you’ll feel like all the energy has been drained from your body. That’s because it probably has – these people are human energy vampires who will suck your energy dry with their negativity,” Quast said. “One of the best things you can do for yourself during the job search process is to carefully choose the people with whom you surround yourself. Be selective about the people with whom you associate and choose people who will lift you up and help you fly, not those who will hold you back from achieving your dreams.”

Individuals who have been the recent victims of oil and gas layoffs may have a prolonged period of time until their next job. That’s just the reality. Fortunately, employers aren’t overly concerned with resume gaps.

“Having a gap on a resume isn’t as big of a deal as most people would think,” said Quast. “After the economy crashed in 2008-2009, I rarely saw a resume that didn’t have a gap because so many employees around the world had been laid off due to corporate downsizing.”

What matters more to recruiters and hiring managers, Quast said, is what you did after the layoff, such as how you searched for a new job, if you learned new skills, volunteered and stayed up-to-date on  industry news, amongst other things.

“The more proactive you are in your activities during your layoff period, the easier it will be for you to discuss this time period with potential employers – and the more apt they’ll be to consider you for a job,” Quast said.


26 Comments on "I Just Got Laid Off … Now What?"

  1. Plantagenet on Tue, 28th Jul 2015 8:10 pm 

    Its amazing that the collapse of the shale oil bubble together with tens of thousands of layoffs of oilfield workers ins’t having any effect on the US economy and the US unemployment rate.

    According to the Obama administration, everything is still hunky dory in the economy. The GDP is still slowly growing and the US unemployment rate is hitting new lows every month.


  2. Makati1 on Tue, 28th Jul 2015 8:17 pm 

    Rigporn now advising the unemployed.

    There are no job openings. At least none that you can live on. When college grads are reduced to flipping burgers, you should be able to see the situation. Best try to figure out how you are going to live after the severance and unemployment run out, because you will be lucky to even flip burgers in a contracting economy. Welfare? Disability? Get in line…lol.

    I know what it was like in 2007 when I was ‘downsized’. In the months after I left, the company was downsized 60%. My 30+ years of experience got me just one job offer and that was to basically be a subcontractor that would be used when needed and paid hourly for my work, minus expenses, no benefits. I didn’t laugh. I just walked out and retired. At least I had that option. I know many who don’t and are in very stressful times.

  3. Nony on Tue, 28th Jul 2015 8:26 pm 

    Plant: The economy does better with a cheap oil price than an expensive one. The benefit to the overall economy is much more than the pain to a small sector of it. Only for countries that are large net exporters is high oil price beneficial.

  4. apneaman on Tue, 28th Jul 2015 8:26 pm 

    PC Corporate Human resources psycho babble. Energy Vampires? Really? Yeah, I know back in the day when they needed me to rig up a 220 ton steam drum their biggest concern was that I had a bouncy disposition and that I knew the closing price of Babcock & Wilcox shares every day.

  5. BC on Tue, 28th Jul 2015 8:48 pm 

    Plant, the US industrial sector tends to lead the rest of the economy, and it is rapidly decelerating to “stall speed” or recessionary on a cyclical change basis.

    The labor force participation rate (LFPR) has fallen 5% since the secular peak. Had the LFPR remained at 67% instead of 62% and falling, the unemployment (U) rate would be 10% instead of 5%. Had the labor force grown at the population rate or the long-term trend rate before 2007, the U rate would be 11% to 13%.

    Add in the part-time workers who want full-time work, and US labor market underutilization is closer to 15% than 5%.

    The 5% published rate is for political purposes.

    Wages and salaries are beginning to show signs of accelerating in the aggregate, but not for the bottom 80%; rather, earned incomes are rising for techies, illth care, financial services, and middle- and upper-income management.

    Demographics, a record low for wages to GDP, and decelerating productivity as a result imply secular trend growth of payrolls of just 50,000/month (vs. 200,000-250,000) in the years ahead, which complies with the post-2007 trend rate of real final sales per capita of ~0%/year.

    Moreover, profits after tax are contracting just as the rest of the world is decelerating to “stall speed”, suggesting that any acceleration of earned income at the top is a late-cycle phenomenon.

  6. davey thompsony on Tue, 28th Jul 2015 9:00 pm 

    Planty, your favorite President, Obama, is doing an amazingly, stunning, great job in case you were wondering. Just say’in ma friend.

  7. Boat on Tue, 28th Jul 2015 9:14 pm 

    Why cry over spilt milk


    The loss of jobs in the US oil field are peanuts.

    From 1900 to 2015 the farming jobs went 95% to less than 5%.

    Let’s consider the tax industry. In this older report there is a annual workforce of 3.4 million. When we go to a flat tax because we must to avoid waste where are these people going to work. Efficiency and technology will happen whether or not any one industry likes it. You want jobs? End legal immigration any time unemployment is over 3%. When the last crash hit US unemployment up to 10%. We still immigrated 2 million l and have for decades or higher. Growth for growth’s sake is an achilles heel.

  8. Northwest Resident on Tue, 28th Jul 2015 9:15 pm 

    “incomes are rising for techies”

    I can testify to that! One day in the not too distant future the elites will rule the world and they won’t be taking any crap from the little people. But to make it all work, they’ll need lots of computers to run all the applications that enable them to maintain total control over a dwindling and feeble population — guided laser zappers, tracking and spy software, applications that run robots to replace human laborers, instant pizza order and delivery applications, stuff like that. And to do that, they’ll need lots and lots of software developers and other computer professionals, because one thing we know for damn sure and that is that elites can’t write code for shit. It looks like a sweet future for “the chosen ones”, like me. But just in case I’m wrong about that, I’m preparing like crazy for a total economic collapse in 2015!

  9. Plantagenet on Tue, 28th Jul 2015 10:22 pm 


    If economies do so well with a cheaper oil price then why is China slowing down? Why is Greece bankrupt and begging for another bailout? Why did US GDP SHRINK in the first quarter? Why did UPS just warn that the US economy is slowing down even more now?

    Why not face facts? The low oil price isn’t producing the boost in US GDP growth that was hoped for.


  10. Nony on Tue, 28th Jul 2015 10:31 pm 

    Because there are factors that can make an economy do better/worse even when oil price is constant.

  11. apneaman on Tue, 28th Jul 2015 10:52 pm 

    The Economist explains
    The global addiction to energy subsidies

    “ENERGY prices have been falling for a year. Over the last month that trend has accelerated. On July 24th, the price of a barrel of oil in America reached a low of $48. In spite of this, governments are still splurging on subsidies to prop up production. Fossil fuels are reaping support of $550 billion annually, according the International Energy Agency (IEA), an organisation that represents oil- and gas-consuming countries, more than four times those given for renewable energy. The International Monetary Fund’s estimates are substantially higher. It said in May that countries will spend $5.3 trillion subsiding oil, gas and coal in 2015, versus $2 trillion in 2011. That is equivalent to 6.5% of global GDP, and is more than what governments across the world spend on healthcare. At a time of low energy prices, high government debt and rising concern over emissions there is scant justification for such spending. So why is the world addicted to energy subsidies?”

  12. rockman on Wed, 29th Jul 2015 6:38 am 

    “…which typically includes severance pay that covers two weeks of pay for every year the employee worked at a company plus continuation of medical benefits for a set period of time.”. First, there is no such thing as “typical”. If you worked for a big company, like Baker Hughes, you’ll get some severance pay. But forget insurance unless you’re getting an early retirement package AND have vested. Smaller companies…not much of a goodbye kiss as a rule. Back in the 80’s bust a small operator was going bust. All the employees knew so it wasn’t a big surprise when they gathered in the big room and were told that was the last day for everyone. When asked about severance the boss told them that since the decision to shut down was made a few weeks ago they should consider their paycheck for the last 2 weeks they worked as severance. He really did say that with a straight face. LOL.

    But there’s a very wide variety of jobs that have been cut. From rough necks without a HS diploma to Ph.D.’s in research groups. The manual labor end typically gets nothing. And depending on the company they might not even get their last paycheck. Back in the 80’s I had a small drilling contractor on a well. The drilling hands had already had paychecks bounce once. It was payday when the owner showed up, passed out checks and left. The tool pusher went to the bank in town and found those checks were no good and the crew was preparing to walk off the half drilled well. I covered their missing salary and paid them for the rest of the well. I either did that or lost a significant investment. And no point in suing the owner since bankruptcy laws shielded him personally. Although I did hear that some rather serious folks were hunting him with killing on their minds. This is Texas after all. LOL. BTW that probably explained why the owner carried a full auto Mac-10 in his trunk.

    Oil patch jobs from top to bottom tend to be very specific skill sets that don’t transition well to other industries. Especially those in the geoscience area. During the 80’s bust the Rockman sold cars, drove a Yellow cab and delivered produce to restaurants. Like everyone else who loses a job you do what you have to do for your family.

  13. paulo1 on Wed, 29th Jul 2015 6:56 am 

    Rockman said:

    “Like everyone else who loses a job you do what you have to do for your family.”

    Amen to that and it can be a real roller coaster ride in many ways.

    I was laid off in the early 80s recession and I remember feeling shame….and depression I suppose, but no one talked about it in those days. Sucked it up and did construction under the table, went up to Yukon to fly bush planes and my world changed. Those were the hardest times and also the best times. I also learned to grow fish in a big hatchery and worked as a foreman and in charge of all building.

    Losing a job is a chance for a ‘do over’, to lift the phrase from Billy Crystal’s ‘City Slickers’. Plus, in hindsight it started me on ‘preps’, so to speak. We have always been prepared for collapse, or at least I have been.

  14. Davy on Wed, 29th Jul 2015 8:25 am 

    Losing a job is ahead for many of us. Our employment modus is just not useful in a collapsing world. Most people will have to start looking to food, salvage, part time work, and less with less. Yes, we can downsize with dignity at least for a while. There is so much in modern life that is non essential. Non essential and discretionary will be the low hanging fruit picked first in the abandonment of the descent.

  15. eugene on Wed, 29th Jul 2015 8:43 am 

    Having gone through job losses as well as working with people who had also, the article is a nice, pleasant bit of hype. I survived as have countless others but it was an son of a bitch. Massive upheaval, divorce, depression, moving and the list goes on. I understand the American hype is perpetual optimism but there’s, also, a need for reality. For millions, it’s a endurance run and not a pleasant one.

    Personally, I just get tired of the endless “don’t worry, be happy” crap.

  16. peakyeast on Wed, 29th Jul 2015 10:32 am 

    Yeah.. some of all those unemployed should make an app for sacking employees efficiently and without h2h contact – thats where the money will be in the near future../sarc

  17. BC on Wed, 29th Jul 2015 11:09 am 

    NWRes, I hear ya. I worked as a techie from the early 1980s to mid-1990s (Big Blue Big Iron systems and database programming, technical sales support, etc.) before taking my skills and finance and economics “education” to the parasitic financial services sector, as did many of my predecessors and peers, taking advantage of the once-in-history, self-reinforcing convergence of IT innovation and the financialization (and deindustrialization and feminization) of the economy over the period to date.

    But apart from lots of skills and experience with statistical and analytical tools and interpreting results, I couldn’t program today to save my filthy hide.

    In Silly-Con Valley in the 1980s, there was a popular saying among techies that if one had not become a stock option lottery winner and multi-millionaire by age 35, one’s career was effectively over. Skills perishability is a parabolic/hyperbolic function WRT time.

    If one does not have the opportunity every 3-5 years to gain progressive real-world experience on the newest, new, newer, OMG-so-cool language and platform, one becomes obsolete very quickly.

    That’s why so many techies after 4-5 to 7 years end up in finance, technical marketing, or technical sales support. One finds very few hardcore coders earning a living in their 40s-50s, and virtually non-existent for 60-somethings.

  18. Northwest Resident on Wed, 29th Jul 2015 11:28 am 

    BC — So true. Life in the techie fast lane leads many to take the dinosaur off ramps along the way. I guess I’m one of those software developers who through a combination of luck, desperate need, hard work and slightly higher than average intelligence have managed to ride the high tech software development wave without dropping out due to irrelevance. From IBM Mainframe COBOL desk jockey to today’s cutting edge internet software development environment (on Microsoft platform) — what a wild ride it has been.

    But despite my much higher than average salary and generally secure job position working for a gold-standard software development company in the financial biz, I have to reflect on how much evil has been perpetrated by the likes of me and my kind, which is what my semi-joking post above was all about.

    Without the computers and the software developers and all the other techies who make it all possible, humans would never have been able to exploit mother nature so fast and so damn efficiently, warfare would never have become so technologically precise, snooping and spying and tracking would never have been elevated to such magnificent levels, etc… But hey, look at all the good we did too, or so the story goes.

    In hind sight, I’m actually one of those who think that we opened Pandora’s box with the energy that oil and other fossil fuels provided us combined with the processing efficiency of computers, and we unleashed a great evil on the world — what we think of today as “BAU”. I was a cog in that machine, still am, what choice did I have? Or any of us have? In the end, we’ll all pay a heavy price or our children will, or both. Techies and elites won’t escape, nobody will. We messed with Mother Nature severely, and now payback is going to be a bitch.

  19. Davy on Wed, 29th Jul 2015 12:22 pm 

    NR, i felt the same way when I worked for the family and financed equipment to the coal mines. Here I was a tree hugger selling equipment to a coal mine. I am glad I got out.

  20. Northwest Resident on Wed, 29th Jul 2015 12:31 pm 

    Davy — I’m full of envy. Even though I actually love my job. If I could “get out” and go full-time farmer/prepper, I would sure as hell do it. Some people have all the luck!

  21. Davy on Wed, 29th Jul 2015 2:45 pm 

    NR, if you only knew what I went through to get here you may reconsider. I was definitely lucky. Yes, I say grace everyday for a life I love and I realize everyday it could end. IOW I kiss the ground daily

  22. PrestonSturges on Wed, 29th Jul 2015 4:34 pm 

    If you get laid off, go through your credit card statement and look for all the little monthly services you are paying for and probably don’t use. Cancel them. Then cancel your cable tv. Somebody not happy with that? Too bad. Owe a lot of money on an expensive car? Sell it. That radial arm saw you haven’t used in three years? Craigslist.

  23. Kenz300 on Thu, 30th Jul 2015 7:10 am 

    Too many people and too few jobs……….

    Maybe the problem is TOO MANY PEOPLE….

    Yet the worlds adds 80 million more mouths to feed, clothe, house and provide jobs, energy and water for every year……

    Want to be poor……have more children than you can provide for…..

    Birth Control Permanent Methods: Learn About Effectiveness

  24. Apneaman on Thu, 30th Jul 2015 8:39 am 

    Kenz, if those poor people were paid fairly for their labour like people who were lucky enough to be born in the empire (you), then your clothes electronics and most other consumer goodies would cost 10 times as much. 3.5 billion souls live off $2.50 per day and among those, for 1.3 billion it’s only $1.25. Maybe we would have been better off if parents like yours did not shit out so many privileged high consuming resource gluttons.

  25. Makati1 on Thu, 30th Jul 2015 9:47 am 

    Apneaman, well said!

  26. KingM on Fri, 31st Jul 2015 8:24 am 

    I haven’t had a paycheck since 2003. Don’t work for the man, work for yourself. It’s both more satisfying and more lucrative.

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