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I was one of 5.1 million people who lost their jobs since last December, a victim of a slowing economy and customers unwilling to commit to large project expenditures. Obviously, with that many layoffs happening, axe-pink-slipmy situation wasn’t unique. I’ve been through many layoffs in my career, both as the manager doing the layoffs (the worst experience as a manager), as well as the one on the other side of the desk.

There were about thirty of us getting the pink slip at my former company. One of my peers there started a website blog about her experience at www.mylayoffstory.com. It got picked up by a reporter from Forbes.com and she was interviewed in a story there.

If you know someone that has been laid off (and you probably do), think about ways to help them. Here are a few suggestions from the different perspectives.

As the manager of the person just laid off: In addition to the Human Resources “scripting” you are given, be honest. Let them know your feelings. Ask if it’s OK to keep in touch with them. If you really believe the person is a good worker, offer a to be a reference. Follow up a few weeks later to check in and say hello.

As a co-worker of the person just laid off: Offer sympathy. Offer to listen. Offer to buy them a beer. In my case, I got home and already had a LinkedIn.com recommendation waiting for me by one of my co-workers. It was unexpected and very welcome. Send them an e-mail or make a phone call a few days later and ask if there is anything you can do. I received messages from some folks expressing shock and even guilt about the situation. It’s not only the person going home that’s affected.

As a friend, family member, or other acquaintance of the person just laid off: Invite them to meet your other friends and help them expand their network. Invite them to lunch. Don’t focus on the negative (the layoff), but just be there to offer support.

I have never been busier with all of my unexpected “vacation” time. For one thing, I was able to focus on the Leadership In Action group, which has been very fulfilling for me. I have enjoyed meeting many new people and hearing their own leadership stories. I look forward to much more.

And my own good news, I’m starting a new job on Monday. Thank you all for the tremendous support. I hope I can keep the good Karma going.

What’s your story?

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