In my mind, the world is divided into two kinds of people.

On one side are those who’ve lost a parent. On the other, there are those who still have their parents’ hands over their heads.

Over the past years, I’ve extended this logic to jobs and careers. On one side are those who’ve faced a layoff and on the other are those whose CVs and careers are still without inexplicable gaps, whose bank accounts have continuous cash flow, however modest that may be, and whose weekdays and diaries are full enough that the nothingness of a weekend counts for something.

This disease the world is in the grips of, is leading massive job losses across industries. None of this, ostensibly, is in anyone’s control. 

As I hear newer bad news every day, I am grateful for my work. Having BTDT (Been There Done That) on both accounts—parent and job—but more recently on the latter, I have been recalling what it was that helped me and what it was that didn’t help me at all during my period of search, and could I improve on that a bit for someone I get to know has been laid off. 

Here's my starter for ten:

  1. First, when someone you know is laid off, express enormous amounts of sympathy. Listen to the person’s blow-by-blow layoff story, really listen. Join in their anger, their angst, and their anguish.

  1. Ask them what their plan of action is. They will have one, however messy it may be. Explore their plan of action with them, help improve it, but don’t make banal statements such as “Have faith” or “Something will work out, something always does”. 

  2. Ask if they will be able to fulfill their financial commitments. Ask for how long. How? Then, if you yourself are able, tell them that you will help them financially if ever required, or now. Do not make empty promises from your full (or empty) pocket.

  1. Offer to review their CV together to find and highlight pockets of potential that so far never needed to be stated.

  1. Keep a keen eye out for openings for them and promptly pass them on. Job hunting is very solitary, very depressing, and very self-doubting work. Follow up with them on opportunities you pass on.

  1. Check-in with them regularly. A layoff often means that entire networks of years and years disappear, or go BVR (Beyond Visual Range).

  1. Write a recommendation for them on LinkedIn. It may not add to much but it’s a morale booster.

  1. Pick the person up for a coffee, or at least promise one when the lockdowns are over.

  1. Put your networks to good use. Use WhatsApp to ask around with friends, amongst family, and in other networks for work, not only jobs, work. Ask the person to draft you a text elevator pitch; better still, help draft one with them.

  1. Do Not Gloat. Do Not Gloat. Do Not Gloat. About anything. Ever.


Learn how to be an empathetic listener with the Listening Actively Course at Harappa Education. Develop listening skills to respond suitably to emotions expressed by others from our Online Learning Courses.  

Indu Anand is an Associate Director with the Curriculum team at Harappa Education. A career corporate communicator and content creator, she is enjoying finding her Hero Habit.

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