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The shock of receiving a layoff notice – along with 960 others at LinkedIn Corp. – left data analytics specialist Jon Lyndon feeling mentally and physically exhausted. It took resolve, he says, to push aside his fears and focus on potential opportunities.

"There is a slew of emotions when you are given such news."

The professional networking platform announced on July 20 that it was cutting 6 per cent of its global work force – primarily affecting employees in sales and talent acquisition – because hiring activity is well below pre-pandemic levels. The company provided a month’s notice and career transition assistance to help the laid-off employees find new work, but it’s a tough job market.

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Toronto-based Mr. Lyndon – whose last day at LinkedIn was Aug. 21 – has tapped his extensive online network to suss out where emerging opportunities might be.

“I have had some fantastic conversations with people all over North America,” he said in an interview. Although not yet sure where all this will lead, Mr. Lyndon says he is confident he will eventually find a challenging new role somewhere, with an employer at the forefront of innovation and change as the economy recovers.

Not all job-seekers are as resilient.

A recent survey of 1,146 Canadian career development professionals found that only 16 per cent of their clients see potential opportunities in the current environment. The majority have a dim view of their prospects, says Candy Ho, vice-chair of the board of CERIC, a not-for-profit organization that advances education and research in career counselling. The survey, conducted by CERIC, also found that career counselors are seeing a high level of despondency in many of their unemployed clients, said Ms. Ho, an assistant professor who teaches courses on career development at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, B.C.

The economy has recovered about 55 per cent of the three million jobs lost between February and April due to business shutdowns to contain the spread of COVID-19. But for many of those who have not been recalled to their previous jobs, it’s difficult to know where to look next for employment, says Mardi Walker, an executive counselor at McLean & Company, a London. Ont.-based human resources advisory firm.

A daily scan of the business news is a good place to start, she said. While most of the news is still pretty bleak, there are some positive reports. “Pay attention to which companies are surviving and growing … because they are able to adapt to change. That’s the kind of place where you can grow your career,” Ms. Walker said in an interview.

"And network, network, network because that's where you are going to find something."

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Ms. Ho counsels clients that – even if they feel discouraged – there’s nothing to be gained by “staying stagnant.”

She encourages people to do what they can within their capability: Create a LinkedIn profile, make an appointment with a career counselor, scan the job boards, broaden your horizons.

The massive shift to remote work at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis has made employers more receptive to employees working from anywhere online.

"From a hiring standpoint, this is really exciting and opens up the competition to more qualified applicants," said Ms. Ho. From an applicant's standpoint, the remote-work trend makes it possible to accept a job offer across the country without leaving home.

Ms. Walker said employers and former employees should stay connected. The job cuts were due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control – “it’s not a black mark on anyone’s resume.”

As is the case with LinkedIn, many organizations are doing what they can to help displaced employees find new work, and most would welcome them back once business conditions improve.

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Mr. Lyndon said employees should take time to process their feelings after being laid off, but not too much time. "It can be hard to see the next play, but you have to push through with intent," he said.

The only way to find a great new opportunity is to actively look. “It may take some sleepless nights, it may take one hundred conversations with strangers but … if you want it, you can make it happen.”

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