Six months out of college, I walked into a windowless room on a Wednesday morning after recently starting my first “real” job. My heart was pounding, palms were sweaty while Human Resources and a Vice President starting talking to me. My gut said this could not be a good conversation. A stack of papers was pushed towards me while I heard words like “severance” and “downsizing the sales team”.
My blurry vision and the gut-punching sensation started to worsen as I put the pieces together.
I was getting laid off.
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Let’s Start At The Beginning
Two months after graduating college, I left everything I knew on the East Coast to pursue a job in advertising in San Francisco. 21, lonely and broke – I was struggling to get by. My first few months were a blur. I was paying $1,300 to live in a 500 square foot apartment (with a ROOMMATE) that barely fit my full-size bed. Even though I always felt poor AF, I had started to make some friends and was getting the hang of work.
When I came back to work from the winter holidays, I noticed things were dramatically slower. I supported two salespeople, yet, there were no sales. It wasn’t my job to sell, but something felt off.
One evening, my VP of Sales put a 9:30 a.m. meeting on my calendar. I had no idea she’d even be in town. It wasn’t until I got to work did I realize the entire sales team in SF had 1:1 meetings with the VP. The first two people to go into their meetings did not come back to their desks. I started to panic.
What could be happening?
And you know the rest. I was laid off. Six months out of college, living in one of the most expensive cities in the US. 3,000 miles away from home with few friends, contacts and absolutely no work experience.
What were the days after like?
The stressing started immediately after I stepped out of the office door. I literally had just graduated six months ago and all of a sudden, I was already out of a job?
Every thought went through my mind over the next few days while hiding under the covers:
- How would I afford my $1,300 rent, let alone food?
- Who would ever want to hire me again!?
- Would my friends and family see me as a failure?
What’s The Difference Between Getting Laid Off & Fired?
Usually, when people say fired (or let go) and laid off they mean two different things.
Laid Off: When the company you work for gets rid of a group of people or an entire department, usually nothing to do with the individual person (more situational)
Fired: When a company gets rid of a specific person, usually for a specific reason (whether or not that reason is valid is a different story!)
Is One Better/Worse?!
Not really, the reason I mention it at all is that the way you should approach it all when finding a new job will be different depending on which happened to you.
In my situation, the company was clearly not doing well and so my entire department was affected.
Either way, getting let go from a job absolutely blows. There’s no way to swing it otherwise.
In my particular situation, I’m actually extremely grateful I was laid off. Not that it didn’t have its hardships, but it was truly the best thing that could have ever happened to me.
Why Getting Laid Off SUCKED
- You are always worrying about money
- It’s a full-time job to find a new job
- You really have to craft your ‘story’ for future employers
- None of your friends are around during the day (this one is less important, but STILL)
Why Getting Laid Off Was GREAT
- Clearly, the company I was working for wasn’t doing well considering they couldn’t even keep their salespeople (the people who made money for the company) // I saw in the news later the company eventually shut down
- I had the opportunity to reflect on what I wanted for my next job and get a higher position more quickly than just moving naturally
- The lay off was out of my control and gave me an easy reason to be ‘looking’ for another job
- I already had some work experience so my transition to starting a new job (outside of college, it’s so different than an internship!) was MUCH easier in that new job
How This Can Be The Best Thing That Ever Happened To You 👇
Getting laid off gives you an opportunity to reassess and find a better job. Think of it this way: if a company has to hire and lay off people in the first place, there is usually something going on internally. Whether they invested in a department in which they didn’t need that headcount or the company needed to downsize in some way, getting laid off is not a normal occurrence.
Use this as an opportunity to reassess. What did you love or hate about your past job?
For me, one of my biggest complaints at that first job was that I was in a satellite office in with a manager who sat across the country. I knew that in my next job I wanted to be at least in the same office as my manager.
In addition, I wanted to be at a company that I felt like was going somewhere. I didn’t want to feel like I was struggling to simply get through the next quarter of sales. I just wanted to be in a thriving environment!
By identifying exactly what I wanted, I was able to get GET WHAT I WANTED in my next role.
In turn, I was wayyyyy happier.
If this happens to you, what should you do first?!
- Craft Your Story: Whether you are fired or laid off, come up with a seamless story as to why you were laid off or fired. People are laid off and fired every day and it’s all about how you frame it so people can understand your situation.
- Network: Don’t be ashamed to tell ANYONE and everyone about your experience. Everyone will want to help you find a new role. This is something I did. I put any pride aside I had on this topic and started asking for friends (and their friends) to make me introductions. I was actually able to get four job offers in two months as a result of networking.
- Assess: What experiences from your last role could you use in your next? What do you want? Come up with some opinions!
- Update Your Resume, ASAP: People will start asking you for your resume as soon as you say you’re in need of a job. No matter HOW bummed you are, or how worried you are, update your resume! Have something you can give to everyone and anyone if there is an opening for you.
- Keep Your Mind Open: Remember, everything happens for a reason, and this is your opportunity to have a more enhanced work experience than you had before.
- Breathe, you are in control and it WILL be OK: I PROMISE!
Have you ever had to deal with a tough work experience!? Comment Below! 👇👇
As a bonus, click here for my favorite power verbs I use in my resume + cover letter!