When you get laid off from your job (a year in reflection)…
Exploring my personal journey and list of Things to Do and Things NOT to Do.
It’s okay to cry (even if you hated that job anyway)…but you’ve got to stop feeling bad for yourself as soon as possible. Other people will feel bad for you but they’re really just judging you. So get your shit together ASAP.
Do travel if you have the opportunity to get somewhere while you don’t have a current commitment. Go wherever you can. I got laid off in the middle of April 2015 and headed to the west coast the first week of May. Get the F out if you can, it’s great for soul searching.
Do spend your money wisely. You aren’t officially guaranteed any significant amount of money after your severance package runs out (if you were lucky enough to get one) and unemployment money is not even close to enough to allow you to afford to live. Remember: you’re still going to have all the bills you had when you were working full time.
Do eat out every meal for the first few days with your friends and loved ones. I mean – they’ll probably buy your breakfast/lunch/dinner/drinks because you just lost your job and they’re gonna feel bad for you. Just remember to pay it forward if this ever happens to them and when you get a job again in the future.
Don’t continue to eat out every meal to comfort yourself to way too long. It gets WAY too expensive and you’ll get WAY too bloated because of all the salt that’s added to food.
Review what you learned from this job and be thankful for everything it provided. Use all your resources. Revise your resume… a million times. I think I have about 17 copies of my resume and about 52 specific versions of cover letters that I’ve sent to companies saved on my Macbook.
Realize that if people have never asked you “what you do for work?” before, they will immediately start asking you a million fucking times what you do for work. Be prepared to craft an interesting enough response to this annoying question because saying you’re “unemployed” is both boring and makes you look completely unable to be hired. Make sure your crafted response is not longer than a few sentences because in reality the person doesn’t actually care.
*PRO TIP: If you really hate the person who asked you, “What do you do?” or “What are you up to nowadays?” you can fib and tell them you’re “freelancing in NYC and the money & flexibility is amazing,” as you end the conversation and walk away.
Do ask your friends and family for help getting interviews / suggestions of companies to work for – you’ll be surprised by how much they can help.
In the same breath, do not expect ANYTHING to come out of what you ask for help from friends and family. Many people have much less power in the hiring process than they assume to have. It’s not their fault, but people help you much less than they’ll actually tell you.
“Yeah, send me a copy of your resume and I’ll pass it along.”
For some reason, this statement irks me more than anything! It’s a bogus response when a person doesn’t know what else to say… typically if they actually have something for you or know of something or have the power to do something, they would provide a more informative response or detailed information. That being said… my reaction to a statement like this is:
2. Actually send a resume. They typically had a pretty negative return on resume investment. But I guess depending on how desperate you are or how bad you want it – it’s always worth a shot! So the better option is to… send it along!
*PRO TIP: Don’t trust strangers from Craigslist in NYC that make you meet them in person at the Ace Hotel in midtown for a “casting call.” Do not pay them $400 for head shots needed for guaranteed work. Especially if her name is Dylan. After her persistence for your payment wears off & if you actually pay her, she’ll literally ghost you and you’ll never hear from her again. (Embarrassingly true story). Ughhh..
Do take time to work on things that you previously never had time for.
Do find things that will bring you joy for very little money. There are so many really rad things to do for very little money or free in this world. Find a friend who’s weird enough / down enough to do different things with you and you’re golden.
Do try to find your passions and re-work your resume so that you can find work in a field that you like.
Don’t take any old job that you know you’re going to hate. You’ll be much more miserable than you were when you didn’t have a job at all. And not having a job is sort of miserable if you aren’t independently wealthy. Or if your parents don’t support your lifestyle with a trust fund or other means of endless cash.
Do network with as many people in your industry (and different industries too!). You should’ve been doing this all along tbh, BUT – if you haven’t reached out to those random people you met at that last networking event – now is the time. NOW is the best time because you actually have the time. Find out what they’re up to, ask them questions, ask for advice or suggestions. Step outside your comfort zone – because it does feel uncomfortable to cold email people. What’s the worst that can happen? Literally – the worst thing probably is – they don’t respond. And honestly, that’s not that bad. Move on to the next person – BYEEEE.
Hang out with every single person you know. It will make you realize who is important to you. Who you decide to see more and were actually happier seeing less of. Who you want to see more of and realize how much you really missed them. Who you didn’t want to see more of, but decided to see more of because you were feeling open and trusted the feelings but ended up just getting your heart blown out, for the fifth time.
When you do start a job though after being pseudo unemployed for an entire summer, culture shock will ensue. Be prepared.
Sometimes it takes like 1 week to find a job and sometimes it takes 3.5 months to find a job. Sometimes the job you found after 3.5 months is not viable to sustain your life or support you financially. But you still take this job because it’s something. If this job is not going to support you financially again, do not hesitate to take any and every interview you can get.
*PRO TIP: Beware of what you say in front of co-workers and who you share particular information with (mainly regarding interviews). Also beware that it looks ridiculous when you are constantly going to “doctors appointments.”
Even when your job searching is a completely ridiculous and terrible experience and you go on 25-30+ interviews and second round interviews and meet the CEO interviews in a 9 month period – you may still not find a job. You may find a job that you hate. Or you may find a job that you like. Or you may find a job that will grow to love in time… that’s where I am right now.
Sometimes you have to choose a lower salary with better quality of life to sustain some of your own personal goals. Obviously there is a lot to consider when making career decisions – the choice must be financially viable, but also healthy and your well-being should be a factor you consider. In the end you’ve got to do what works well for you, what you can afford and where you see yourself moving forward with growth potential and mental clarity. Sometimes it takes being unemployed or being in a place that doesn’t work well for you to see the light.
Talking about money can be difficult conversation for practically every person reading this essay. I’m not going to tell anybody that it’s not difficult. But what I will say is that being more vocal about it really does help. “Ask and you shall receive. Don’t ask and you won’t ever know what you didn’t receive.” – modestly changing biblical quotes, OK? Main takeaway is that it’s a challenge to find people who are looking out for you. You’ve got to look out for yourself. So, do that. Ask for more money. It’s #EqualPayDay today, April 12th, 2016, so let’s celebrate it.
Being laid off at 26 was a challenging time in my life, but the lessons learned and the growth that came along with it was well worth it.