6 Things I wish I had Known Before I was Laid Off for the First Time
I was laid off for a month almost two years ago. The experience was the oddest mix of emotions I had ever felt… relief (the company was bad), anxiety, fear and whatever you call that feeling when you are asking yourself “is this a dream?”. I had never been laid off before then but I thought I knew how it would go if it ever happened – Nah. I was sitting at my desk on a Friday morning (before coffee) cruising facebook and HR walks over. “Can I see you for a second?” he says. I was always being pulled into something so I got up and pranced into a room, ready to take on some unexpected project. Girl… there was a box of tissues and the other HR girl in the room and I still had no idea.
When they delivered the news I was thinking they had the wrong person because who gets laid off like this? My boss was on vacation, this is was super odd. Anyway, I packed up my stuff and left – there were no tears, no sadness (for me anyway), I smiled even… the relief thing I guess. I recovered quickly with a much better company and role but in hindsight, there were a few things I wish I had known before I was laid off.
That “the writing’s on the wall thing” is BS. Before this happened I thought I would have some lead time because, unless I am fired, leadership would give us a heads up about cuts or I would sense some new volatility.There was none -nada. This does not always happen apparently and layoffs do not always make sense to you at the moment. Example, I knew that the company’s best days were behind them and I was not busy but it was like that when I was hired nearly two years prior and I, nor the girl I replaced were ever busy. Silly me, right. Anyway, my point is you do not have time to get ready and there are not always “warnings”, you literally can be here today and gone tomorrow. Trust no one and nothing in Corporate America.
The needs for a “fuck it” fund/emergency savings/nest egg are so real. This is the one that makes me most angry when I look back. I had a savings but not what I should have/could have had if I were financially ready for a layoff. It took me 8 years of working to be laid off once. In that time, I could have had enough savings to slow it down and have more #Funemployment. A good amount saved would have given me options and opportunity to travel, wait a while to look for a job, and/or just go hang out with my grandma for a few weeks. Because I did not save well, I was too scared to relax and missed that rare window to take a breath (with severance pay).
Second streams of income matter. Before being laid off I heard about this a lot and did not give it the attention it deserved. Finding your own leg to stand on, even partially can be a lifesaver. I made the mistake of having all my eggs in someone else’s basket. Having other ways to make money at the ready could have given me some independence and freedom to take other opportunities as well.
Unemployment pay is a joke. I do not know what I was expecting from this, but it was more than what I got. All I am going to say here don’t look at this as any kind of safety net. Sign up for it if you get laid off/fired etc but save your own money, girl.
Do not suffer in silence, You need your village. Being laid off is embarrassing – especially if people think “you have it together”. That pedestal life sucks! Get off of it and burn it down. Now, I try to burn it down often – as soon as someone starts talking to me like I have all the answers, I mentally light a match. But be smart about it – if you are at work and the authority on something, that is different. I am talking about with your people – your village. Keep those lines of communication open and tell people when something is going on. All too often strong women want to be the pillar of strength for all these people, do not be afraid to call in some of those emotional debts.
I had no idea how vital my philosophy of “staying ready” would be. I have said this before… many times and many ways to my friends, family and you… you do not have time to “Get Ready”. I may not have been financially ready to be laid off but because I never fully left the job market, I was able to pick up and move quickly to the next thing. If you have not read my post on this, do yourself a favor and do it now! A Case for Always Keeping Your Resume Updated
Nothing shakes up life like an unexpected job loss but, I have to tell you – it’s odd how much less you are afraid of it after it has happened to you. Facing that situation gave me a deeper sense of confidence than I had ever had before. It’s like you have looked that fear square in the eye and slayed it! #WhoElseWantsSome (a lil too cocky but *old kanye shrug*) My point is being laid off is not the worst thing to happen, it’s the catalyst for a lot of entrepreneurship, side hustles, travel, and blogs … so get scrappy. You got this!