How I Survived a Layoff
The impact of the 2008 economic meltdown didn’t catch up to me until 2009. At the time, I lived in Birmingham and worked in the services industry. I provided HR support for several locations across the state of Alabama.We shut down production in of one of the facilities because we didn’t need the capacity. Customers were leaving because they couldn’t afford anything extra, and we were often an extra. After laying off many of the people I had worked with for years, it never occurred to me that I might be next. I had a false sense of security because I my salary was split between several locations. I could not have been more wrong.
The day I was laid off, I had a 4 pm meeting with my boss and his boss “to give an update.” I didn’t think too much of it, but something seemed off. After introductory pleasantries, they delivered the bombshell. During the meeting, I was very quiet. In fact, I later heard that my complete silence freaked them out a little bit. What do you say when someone tells you that you no longer have a job?
The following week was a complete blur. There were tears, anger, bargaining and denial – the usual suspects who show up when you experience a significant loss. Luckily I came to terms with it and actually felt ok within a few weeks.. I had gotten a good severance package. I also knew I was was burned out and ready for something new. After 4 years in the same role, things had become pretty mundane.
In the weeks after my lay off, I picked myself up and dove into a job search full-time. I networked with everyone in the HR space who would talk with me. And surprisingly, people were very generous with their time. I applied for anything and everything that looked remotely interesting. I have always followed the advice I was given early on in my career…the purpose of a job search is to generate offers. This allows you choice and freedom. I put my nose to the grindstone and it paid off. I started a new job on the following day my severance ran out. I never missed a paycheck.
I am sharing this right now in the midst of the largest economic downturn we have seen since the Great Depression. Right now there are 41 million Americans unemployed. To those who are worried about losing a job or are already unemployed, I have two pieces of advice. First, treat this as an opportunity. Hindsight is 20/20, but my guess is that you’ll come out stronger on the other side. Like me, you may have been ready for a change, but just weren’t willing to take the first step. Being laid-off is the push that you need to reinvent yourself. Secondly, act as though looking for a job is your full-time job. You will land on your feet much sooner. Know that you will get through this and you are not alone. If you haven’t done a job search in a long time or need help building your confidence, feel free to reach out to me for a free consultation. I regularly coach people during their job search.