I've been laid off too - some tips for you and others!
It's been a bit of a whirlwind since the last issue. Some of you may have heard, but I too am one of the folks impacted by the unfortunate layoffs trend hitting the tech space. I wrote about my own experience on LinkedIn and how you can help. Check the post here.
I know it's a difficult time for folks on both sides.
On one side, you have people being laid off who may or may not have had a so-called "good experience" with being let go. I've heard stories of access being cut off without warning, people finding out mid-labour, or being sent a cold automated email. Some got a nice severance, and others got nothing overly generous.
Then on the other side, you have people hurting from losing friends and colleagues they have come to rely on for years, part of their routine. They have survivor guilt because they are left behind. This will likely turn into the stress of having to do more with less.
People want to know how they can help, and I wanted to share my perspective as someone affected by a layoff on what you can do to help people if you want to.
For those folks laid off, here's how you can help them:
1. Follow their lead. It's a shock and very emotional to lose your job. Fear sets in. And many will indeed go through the stages of loss. Anger and bitterness might be a huge one. Let your former colleague know you are there for them and how they can reach you but let them come to you. In my experience, 2 weeks after I got my news, I felt better, but I needed a week to be ready to talk.
2. Consider doing concrete stuff like writing them a recommendation on LinkedIn if you can speak about the kind of worker they are and the work they deliver. Vote on their skills on their LinkedIn profile. If they post about being laid off, repost with a comment on your timeline about why this person should be hired. You can also comment on the post or react. The idea is to amplify their post. Truth is, since I've been laid off, the current opportunities have come from human connection because I'm fortunate that people are sharing my content on LinkedIn.
3. Unless they ask, don't send them job posts from LinkedIn. They are likely already on all the websites, getting the alerts. I'd consider not sharing job posts unless they told asked directly or you have a direct line to the hiring manager.
If you're laid off yourself - here's what you need to know:
1. A layoff is not about you. It's can be about mismanagement, larger economic trends or any number of things. For example, a company hired too many folks or made bad business decisions that make your role redundant. At the end of the day, it's not usually a reflection on you or your abilities. I know it's hard - but eventually, you'll accept that these are things beyond your control. Just don't lose sight that you're amazing, do great work, and you'll do great things at your next company. You may even see this temporary setback as a blessing in having the freedom to find a better fit for your passions. Lots of careers or even new companies come out of downturns.
2. It's ok to be angry, bitter, and sad - take the time you need. I found it helpful to set a deadline for myself to move on. Once my laptop went back to my employer and the weekend passed, I decided to focus on my resume, filing for EI and connecting to good friends. As the first of the month has come, I decided that would be my deadline to turn the page. Do what works best for you. Remember, it's hard to move forward if you only stare backwards.
3. Don't endlessly wallow in your own head. Reach out to friends. People genuinely want to help. Take those you trust who offered to help at their word.
4. Accept that some people will disappoint you, and some will surprise you. I've been contacted by friends from elementary school I haven't heard from in years who have been so helpful it was shocking. On the other hand, there are certain people who I thought I could count on who disappeared. I can only surmise that for some, they don't know how to deal with emotions, or they don't know how to act, so they want to avoid the situation altogether.
5. Don't be cheap; invest wisely, but don't be frivolous. It's very easy to want to cut things when you lose your job. You should certainly keep an eye on your spending habits. However, don't think twice about using a service to help make a better resume or a tool you may find essential in your job hunt. For my part, I had a 12-year-old laptop. I had been saving for a new one for quite a while and had some gift cards. I knew I needed a new laptop to look professional on Zoom calls and to work with some video tools, so I took the plunge.
6. Create a new routine. I found it helpful to replace my work routine with a new predictable pattern. Something reliable. Here's mine: I work out, shower, get properly dressed (no sweats) and hit my desk by 8. Look at emails, spend time on LinkedIn and plan my day. I have lunch with my family. Do some training, webinars, emails and time on LinkedIn. Finish at 3 PM and go for a walk with the dog to get the mail. Make dinner and spend time with the family. It's been great for me and the way I am to have some sense of routine. Do what works for you.
7. I signed up for some tools. I want to recommend you check them out too. The world of resumes has changed, and they use these systems called ATS (applicant tracking systems) that essentially keyword search your resume. If you don't write it correctly or pass that test, you'll likely never hear from the HR team. So you must remember to write for bots to pass and for humans once they finally get to reading it. Here are some tools I can recommend:
b) https://resume.io/ (If you pay for it, it includes Career.io, which has great tools for practicing for the interview. I should note, it's primarily USA focused)
8. Talk to a career coach and have others read your resume. This is a chance to reinvent yourself. Take the time to think about what you want to do next.
9. Treat yourself. Do something to celebrate yourself and your accomplishments. After almost 10 years of working in the community software space and doing so much, my wife and I went out to celebrate. We went to a fancy restaurant, had a good meal and toasted to the future. It gave me a good bit of closure to move on.
10. LinkedIn is key. Spend time connecting with folks and reaching out. But also post interesting content about the industry you're aiming for. I spoke to a head-hunter just yesterday. She told me that most jobs are being filled by recruiters finding folks from their activity on LinkedIn. I know it's icky for some - so don't do what you don't want to - but LinkedIn will likely be your best network to find your next gig. The reality is a connection or conversation will be a much better way to land a role than blindly applying on LinkedIn. True story for me, there was a job I applied to with 300+ candidates. It was over two weeks ago. Crickets. The CEO reached out to me Monday, seeing me in his feed from others reposting my content. He asked the HR person to conduct an interview. I was likely in a pile never to get seen, and LinkedIn saved me.
11. Keep a copy of the job you apply for and the date when applying to jobs. I take a full screenshot via PDF so I can refer to the posting if I get contacted and it's removed from the web. Also, don't let yourself be talked out of applying if you don't meet all criteria. They describe the perfect candidate. Humans are not perfect. If you have more than 70%, I say hit that ally button.
12. If you really want a specific job, connect with the hiring manager on LinkedIn or connections at the company you may have to secure an intro. Use this sparingly when it makes the most sense.
13. Know it takes time, and don't be hard on yourself. This is a tough time, and many people are out of work. It's a cycle. Things will turn around. For every company shedding talent, some are growing and looking for people like you.
14. You don't need to follow anything on my list. Do what works for you. I am sharing what worked for me. Everyone's journey will be different, and you should do what you are comfortable with.
Now for those left behind and who have survivor guilt. As someone who saw this myself, the best thing you can do is be a listener and just tell your colleagues you're there if they need you. Don't be shy to privately reach out to those you have a special connection to. What I do ask is you avoid lengthy statements in your Slack or work channels about your survivor guilt and "how you're coping with it" while the affected employees are still around. It's very hurtful. I get it. You're stressed and feel bad, but it just makes people who just lost their jobs feel horrible. Read the room and at least wait until all affected folks are gone before you make public statements in your work channels. By all means, connect with your colleagues left behind privately and with trusted friends, but save the public posts for now. If you really want to help people, though- and it's more than words- check my earlier remarks. However, if you need a summary, here it is in the simplest terms: they need your ears if they ask, a recommendation on LinkedIn even if they don't, and a solid connection to a potential employer or someone who can genuinely help them. Those are basically the main things you can do to help.
As far as being left behind and how to deal. I would say it's also essential to take care of yourself and talk with trusted friends. Don't stay in your head. Work as best as you can - but not to the point of causing imbalance to the work-life ratio long term. I would consider saving a bit more and also preparing your resume. At this point, I will assume most companies are in one of three stages:
1) They have yet to make the cuts and are having a wait-and-see attitude, but they may come as a result of the domino effect of the macroeconomy.
2) They did a first-pass shallow cut for now, but more are coming, so prepare for another round.
3) They went deep on the first pass and may have laid off more than they needed to. They might be hiring people back. Or they may need to do additional cuts if that first pass was not enough.
The main thing to consider is that we are all replaceable at any time. The timing will never be good. Most important, we can't control what happens. So just focus on the things you can control. To me, that means taking care of your family and yourself. Be mindful of what you spend and connect with others. This will not be the first recession or the last. As a matter of fact, this is the third major one in my career, but the first one where I was laid off. Just keep in mind others have been through this, and you're not the first person to feel the way you do. Things will work out, but you just don't have the perspective you need now. Later you will see this was a transformative time and likely a good thing.
For my part, I am cheering all of you on, no matter where you fall during this economic time. I hope this newsletter edition was helpful with concrete steps. If you'd like to help me personally, I am open to any connections to companies hiring senior marketing leaders who focus on community as a pillar for success. I don't need for community to be in the title, but it's certainly a core function of how I believe a company can be successful. Please also consider sharing this newsletter with your friends. Oh, and if you haven't done so already, please consider buying my book or leaving a review on your platform of choice!
Thanks, everyone, for reading until now! Here's to your continued success!
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