Surviving a layoff and its aftermath

So, you've survived the ax. But it's not exactly relief you're feeling. It's more like guilt and anxiety.

While managers can help alleviate some of the swirling emotions among survivors by being as truthful and thorough as possible in explaining the layoff criteria and procedure, workplace experts say many bosses fail to do that.

John Owen, branch manager at staffing firm Robert Half International's Baltimore office, offers some advice on how you can take charge of a bleak situation.

For starters, acknowledge your feelings, such as guilt. "But at the end of the day, you also have to recognize that it's a pat on the back that the company kept you on. You have to start getting positive about it."

Ask your manager about your vulnerability, recognizing that you might not get a definitive answer in this very uncertain environment.

Avoid water-cooler talk and focus on the job. Make yourself indispensable by taking on additional responsibilities.

Show off your interpersonal or "soft" skills. Owen says restructuring is forcing people from different departments to work together.

"Now your success is wrapped around people you've never worked with before."

See the silver lining in a bad situation. "There is a lot of opportunities that open up during a transition."

Importantly, always be prepared for the worst.

Keep your resume updated, stay in contact with former colleagues who have found jobs elsewhere, help laid-off workers with leads and never stop networking.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun