You’ve noticed changes at your company: less work available, executives talking about financial concerns and the economy, maybe a hiring freeze or a request to stop spending company money - all-around bad vibes. After a few weeks or months with this black cloud of worry hanging over everyone’s head, you get the news: you’re being laid off.
Whether this comes via a sit-down with your manager (ideal), a phone call, or the sudden loss of access to your systems (can companies please stop doing this?!), it’s never easy to hear. I know because I’ve been through it more than once.
First, know this: whatever you’re feeling is normal. You may be relieved that you no longer have to wait and worry. You may feel this is the push you needed to find a better fit job. You, more than likely, are worried about finances. You may feel embarrassed or that you’ve somehow failed, and you might just be really sad. Give yourself time to process and grieve, and be gentle with yourself.
Most of us will experience being laid off at some point in our careers, so you’re in great company! Layoff criteria varies across companies, but it’s always a business decision, not a personal one. Yes, even top performers sometimes lose their jobs. I once lost my job because nearly all contract staff were let go in a recession, and another time because the company was on the verge of shutting down and even high-level team members were let go. It’s personal to you because it’s your job and your livelihood, but remember it’s not personal to the company and has no reflection on your value.
Eventually, you’ll need to spring into action. There’s no need to hit the pavement immediately or stand on the sidewalk wearing your resume as a sandwich board, but you should start thinking about your next move. It’s always important to network, and now is the time to rely on past managers, former colleagues, alumni groups, professional associations, or any other parts of your network. It won’t keep you from needing to research and apply to jobs on your own, but leaning on your network can lead you to even more opportunities - and make you feel less alone.
It’s also a great time to apply for unemployment before your time is being pulled into resume writing and interviewing. In most U.S. states, being laid off means you’re eligible to receive unemployment benefits. Applying can take some time, so get it started as soon as you can. It’s a great feeling
The day I got laid off from a beloved job, I received an invitation to happy hour with an acquaintance and a new friend of hers. I wasn’t interested, as I’d planned to spend the evening moping about with comfort food. She convinced me to change my mind, and that new friend of hers became one of my closest friends - for the past ten years! Not only did I get my mind off my problems, I made a new friend.
The same advice applies to professional opportunities that may not seem like an instant fit. If a recruiter reaches out, it doesn’t hurt to chat with them and build the connection. You may be surprised once you learn more, and if not, they’ll likely have other roles to share with you in the future that are a better fit.
Layoff or no layoff, I recommend everyone keep a “kudos list.” Create a document or folder where you keep any positive feedback you receive. This is useful in many ways, from a bad-day pick-me-up to details for a promotion, but especially as a reminder of what you’ve accomplished and who you’ve impacted. Take some time to recognize your hard work and think about where you’d like to go next; make a list of requirements and nice-to-have aspects of your future job. A layoff is shocking and stressful, but it’s also one step closer to your next big move.
This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.
Krystin Morgan is a Seattle-based recruiting leader at a rapidly-scaling tech company, the owner of Amplify Career Services (a resume writing and career growth company), and most importantly a mom to a beautiful baby girl and a sweet old doggo.