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Suggestions on what to do when you've been laid off

Holden The Page
Suggestions on what to do when you've been laid off
By Holden Page • Issue #6 • View online
Over the past couple of weeks, over a dozen of my friends and acquaintances have been laid off, seen their hours reduced, had their pay cut, been asked to work significant overtime for the same pay, or have had offers for dream jobs rescinded. And no collar or industry is safe.
For many, this is a jarring and emotional experience, and resources around what to do are, in my opinion, lacking in actual practical advice. And while it’s weird to admit, I am well positioned to offer some job hunting advice due to my experience in media and startups. I’ve been laid off three times, fired once, and quit one job without a back-up plan due to culture issues.
It’s worth noting that these are suggestions for a reason. Being laid off is an experience that is emotional and often upsets one’s sense of self worth, and I can’t possibly account for everyone’s financial and personal situation. Take what you can and feel free to leave the rest.

Week One: Breathe and maintain
If you’ve been laid off without warning, you’re likely in panic mode, whether you recognize it actively or not. For that reason, you should avoid making any decisions of significant consequence for one week. You probably need stability and control more than you think you do in order to think clearly about next steps.
Avoid the natural instinct to immediately cut costs, mass email your network, or rapidly apply for jobs en masse. Especially if you worked in an intense environment where you gave a lot of yourself (which is true for most startups), it pays to keep change to a minimum (don’t cancel that Netflix subscription or gym membership).
What you should pay more attention to is making sure you are sleeping and eating on a somewhat regular schedule, that you are reaching out to friends and family for support, and are keeping any potential vices that tend to crop up during periods of intense stress to a minimum.
Take time for yourself, slow down and find moments that belong only to you.
Week two: Establish a foundation
You have to begin moving forward while still being kind to yourself. Every day of week two should focus on one main task that you can accomplish in three hours or less.
  • Day one. Review all the paperwork from your former employer that has been given to you. Make sure you clearly understand your severance package (if one was offered) and any possible job resources that your employer may offer to help you find another job. Read up on your state’s unemployment benefits and apply if you qualify.
  • Day two. Unfortunately, health insurance in the U.S. is often tied to employment. It’s a system that’s shit, and I stand by that. Regardless, if there are appointments with your doctor you put off, schedule them now and let said doctors know about your situation—they will often prioritize your appointment time. Ask for refill on prescription medications for as far ahead as they can reasonably muster. Schedule a dental cleaning appointment and probably schedule an eye appointment as well. This is a good time to also review your COBRA coverage your employer is required to send you.
  • Day three. Now is the time to dust off your resume and check out your LinkedIn. (A lot of folks in tech like to diminish Linkedin’s importance. With love, they are wrong.) If you can afford it, I strongly recommend hiring a resume writer. It’s hard to see your professional accomplishments clearly when you’ve been laid off, and good resume writers will often help you craft a story about your professional accomplishments. A sharp, concise story is immensely important for future interviews and discussions about what you want to do next. If you are in tech or media, I recommend you reach out to Dave Fecak of Resume Raiders. He has written my resume, and it has landed me interviews at companies valued at billions of dollars in a matter of days. If you would like my feedback on your resume (or know someone who could use it), please reach out.
  • Day four. Build a spreadsheet of who you’ll reach out to for job opportunities. For better or worse, you are most likely going to get your next job through a referral. In that same spreadsheet, gather up a list of companies you want to work for and why. This is actually going to take up quite a bit of time, so I recommend holding off on sending out emails the same day; tired writers are poor writers, and your ability to write professionally is going to be scrutinized more than ever.
  • Day five. Take a break and give yourself a long weekend. Seriously. There’s likely a lot of anxiety to manage throughout this process. And while it may have made sense to flirt with burnout while you were employed, it makes absolutely no sense to do that to yourself now.
Week three: Your new part-time job
Over the past two weeks, you have likely done some mental recovery and built a foundation that will help you move forward in your job search.
Now is a good time to refer to your spreadsheet and start reaching out to folks for opportunities. Make sure to attach your resume, be clear about what you want to do next and stay upbeat. Staying upbeat and positive is important, regardless of how high your anxiety is or how tight your funds are getting. I have found, especially in tech and media, that any sense of desperation is detrimental to getting another job.
If you have a mentor, now is a good time to call them. A mentor may be able to make introductions and will likely offer useful advice on how to present yourself to potential employers.
Finally, there is a diminishing return to spending more than three to four hours a day on the job hunt. It’s an emotionally taxing process. Being denied (or ghosted) hurts, even if you know it isn’t personal. Interviews also will take up a lot of your time, especially if you don’t have a referral of some sort.
To get your mind off the often painstakingly slow hiring process, spend the other free hours in your day focusing on everything but work. If you are ambitious and work in tech or media, it’s likely you’ve ignored your friends, physical and mental health in an effort to hit ambitious quarterly goals. Now is a good time to work on recovering those aspects of your life.
While I can’t predict when you’ll get a job, especially in these times, please remember this: you are valuable, and no matter how demoralizing the job hunt may become, don’t spend energy diminishing yourself or your accomplishments.
All my love until next time,
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Holden Page

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