One month—almost to the day—after getting married, I was laid off. Out of the blue, the boss of my startup company came in and announced that he had to cut our entire department. It was devastating, frustrating, angering that the people who had literally promised me years with their company seemed to decide overnight I was no longer a vital asset.
I went through all the stages of grief, sharing my pain with the two other women in the expelled department. The way we were hired at our startup left us unable to file for unemployment and as young professionals, our lives had revolved around our jobs. When that job crumbled, our lives were left confused and chaotic.
For weeks my stomach was in knots, my emotions ranging from desperate disbelief to righteous anger.
Needless to say, I don’t wish the experience on anyone. However, I learned a lot from this time in my life that I would love to pass on to you. If you’ve found this blog because you’ve been laid off, take a deep breath and know it’ll all be okay, eventually.
Take a Moment to Yourself
The key word here is “moment”. Take a day, stay in your pajamas and pamper yourself. Go for a walk in the park and pack yourself a picnic lunch. Do whatever you wouldn’t have been able to do with your job in the way. Let the waves of emotions calm so you can move on without hurriedly scrambling into something you might regret.
Breathe. Pause for a moment, breathe, focus on the breath. Know that you are OK, in this moment. –Leo Babauta
During the months following my lay off, I was able to reevaluate the hours of the day that I usually took for granted. I embraced hobbies to put positive, encouraging breaks in between times of job searching. I got back into a consistent schedule at the gym, rediscovered my love for healthy cooking, and started writing for myself.
Eventually, I realized that what I had been doing wasn’t even close to my true passions. My job had chosen me.
Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. –Confucius
Rediscovering my passions might have taken years or never happened at all if I had continued at my job. By allowing myself time in-between jobs, I was able to reassess my priorities and reinsert them into my next career. Some of my hobbies even turned into money-making opportunities.
Don’t Let Fear Win
Every day, I worried for our stagnated bank account, my tanked career, the strain I felt I was putting on my new husband (Even though he was encouraging and basically the BEST during this time). I applied for at least three jobs a day, ranging from secretarial positions to editing work. Out of the over 100 applications I sent out, only a handful responded with anything. Fear loomed over me, making me doubt myself.
Don’t let fear win. Keep your heart open. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there again. And don’t let fear stop you from trying something new. Eventually, I gained the confidence in myself to reach out to connections and ask for help. One of those connections helped secure the job I have today.
Keep Yourself Busy
During my unemployment, I kept busy with a variety of things, including the hobbies I mentioned above and freelance editing and writing. But probably the best thing I did during my time out of work was take a temporary job at Target. (I still considered myself unemployed during this time because I did not want to lose motivation to find a career job) During my three months of work there, I was inspired by the hardworking people who work retail; I discovered the power of a simple smile to a coworker; I learned that I could provide for my family whatever it took.
There’s something about rolling out of bed at 5 am before the sun is up, eating breakfast on the bathroom floor to keep the noise from waking your husband, and sneaking out of the house to go unload boxes and shelve stock at 6 am every morning that gives you confidence.
And now we come to the most important point—confidence. Without confidence, you are as good as dead in the job market. Your resume doesn’t mean a thing if you can’t interview well and maintain a sense of humor about your current situation. You may be a gem on paper but if you arrive to your interview reeking of desperation, no one is going to want you.
Confidence allowed me to share with my now-employer at my interview that I was working retail until I found something new. It’s become a running joke no matter what happens at my job, at least I didn’t have to wake up at 5 am! I like to think my confidence regarding my situation and refusal to give up hope helped me secure the job that I have now.
Whether you’ve recently been laid off or are dealing with some kind of unemployment, I hope you found something to take away from my experience. Keep trying, stay positive in who you are, reach out and reconnect with people who may be able to help. We’re all in this life together.
And I must say, after four months of having sporadic, random work where every week is different, it feels good to be back in an office again!