It was a Friday, like any other Friday. I was excited the weekend was finally here. That morning, I had a Skype meeting that started at 9am, so I got to work early to take the call. When the call was over, I went out, and was doing the normal beginning of the day chit chat with my co-workers, when one of the Vice Presidents called me into his office.
This wasn’t something that was completely out of ordinary so I went and got my notebook and went in and sat down. But, as I sat poised to take any necessary notes, he dove right in. “Kelley, today will be your last day with the company …”
Honestly, my first reaction was that it was a joke. It took longer than I care to admit to realize what was actually happening. The rest of the time while he was talking, I was just focusing on making it through without crying. When he finished, I turned in my laptop and key, and gathered my stuff as quickly as possible and left without saying a word to anyone.
I went straight home, called my mom, then talked to José, and spent the rest of the day crying, eating pizza rolls and watching re-runs of Grey’s Anatomy.
Getting laid off sucks. A lot. It’s also terrifying, humiliating and infuriating. But, you are not alone, and it’s not the end of the world.
If you happen to find yourself in a similar situation here is what to do next.
Let yourself wallow.
Go ahead cry. Lay in bed all day. Watch endless hours of Netflix. Eat junk food that makes you happy. Drink a glass (or three) of wine. That is just an example of what I did when I lost my job. To each their own when it comes to wallowing. Allow yourself to feel your feelings. Let yourself be sad, angry, scared, or all of the above. It’s important to take the time to process your state of mind. From my experience, bottling up your feelings can just lead to more stress, pressure and tension later.
The thing to remember whenever you are experiencing something like this is that it is temporary. You will find another job, it may take time, but it will happen.
Take some time to self-reflect.
After I pulled myself out of bed and took a shower, I started looking back on what happened. Being very honest with myself, I realized I hadn’t been happy in that position for a long time. I took the position originally as a jumping off point into the company. I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do forever, but hopefully I would put in the time, pay my dues, and continue to move up. But after two and half years, no significant moves had been made in that direction, and I felt stuck.
Obviously, it would have been better to leave the company of my own accord, with another source of income in place. I wasn’t as sad about leaving as I initially thought, and I was excited to find something that was more fulfilling.
At this point you need to take a good hard look at your goals and figure out what you really want. Was the position you lost your dream job? If it was that can add an extra layer of grief and difficulty, but at least you know going forward what you are looking for. If it wasn’t your dream job, take note of why not. Sit down and do some thinking about what you want. Ask yourself ‘What are your strengths?’ People are typically happier when they are good at what they are doing. Look to your history. When have you been your happiest, or most fulfilled, what were you doing? Get advice from as many people as you can, which leads me to my next step.
Reach out to your support system.
This is a two-pronged step.
First, don’t be embarrassed. During my moment of wallowing, I’ll admit, I didn’t want people to know what happened. I was ashamed. But that is an unhealthy and unproductive reaction. Getting laid off is not uncommon, and most of the time is not due to anything you specifically did. Reach out to your family and friends for support. It will be good to have some one to vent to. It is another great way to process what happened.
But secondly, your network can also be there to help you with your next steps. I reached out to a former colleague for advice on the best places to look for jobs in our field. I also got coffee with a former supervisor to put feelers out there, to see if he knew of any good opportunities. Take advantage of any relationship you have, you never know where you’ll find your next prospect. A friend of mine, found her dream job, by talking about getting laid off with a random stranger at a party.
Do what needs to be done.
Looking for a new job can take a while. Especially, if you are looking for a job that makes you happy, that you are excited about, that fulfills you, and is not just another source of income. For many people, myself included (I was only given two weeks of severance pay), you don’t have the luxury financially to wait for your dream job. That’s what I mean about doing what needs to be done. I applied for unemployment benefits which, while did not pay as much as I was making before, was extremely helpful in carrying us through. I also applied for part time jobs, temp work, anything that could tide me over while I figured out my next move.