10 Things I’ve Learned From Getting Laid Off

November 3, 2009


I’m not proud to admit this, but I’ve been laid off three times. I’ve heard someone tell me, “you haven’t made it in advertising unless you’ve been laid off a couple times.” Looking back, I’m not sure I agree with that statement. Throughout this process, I’ve learned many major life lessons from getting laid off, including these ten:

1) Do not take it personal. There might be a million reasons why they let you go…it may not have anything to do with your abilities to do the job.

2) Take time out to sort out your emotions before getting serious with your search.

3) You need to be contributing to the bottom line (and justifying your existence) in your company at all times.

4) It might be a good time to start your own business.

5) Having a light workload might be good for your sanity, but puts you in danger of losing your job.

6) Join Toastmasters. It can help you to not only improve your public speaking skills, but it can also help improve your interview skills and expand your personal network. My biggest regret is not joining Toastmasters sooner.

7) Beware of April. All my layoffs have occurred in late March or April, at the start of second quarter…which gives me a strong sense of layoff déjà vu every year.

8) A layoff can turn out to be a blessing.

9) Don’t accept your first job offer during your job hunt (unless you are blown away by the opportunity).

10) Don’t ever believe anyone at your company when they say, “we don’t have layoffs here.”

Truth be told, I have learned so much more than what I have shared here. Perhaps there’s a sequel to this post. How about you…what have you learned from getting let go?

Photo courtesy of Futski via Flickr

1 Lori November 3, 2009 at 6:16 pm

Hi Tim,
Wow, you are right on with this post! I’m really sorry you’ve had to adjust to lay offs, that really sucks. It is such a huge stressor – I hope you’re getting out to exercise to help blow off steam and feel good, too. 😉

I think your #2 is so very important, too. I agree with all points, but a lay off can be the perfect time to consider the big picture and what one really wants. It can certainly be a hidden blessing.

I’m absolutely positive that this post will help many people; you should do a whole series just on this topic. What’cha think?

And, as a final comment, I love how you dual-purposed #8 to emphasize the blessing of a layoff as a cool dude with shades.

Now, that is groovy!

2 Tim November 3, 2009 at 7:27 pm

Hi Lori: Your last sentence cracked me up. I didn’t mean for the smiley-faced guy to appear there, but the more I looked at it, the more it seemed appropriate. I know my situation is hardly unique these days, but perhaps there is some insight that someone might find from the post. About seven years ago, a guy jumped off the building next to where I worked. It was a truly sad, tragic event. Rumor was, he got laid off from his job earlier that day. Whatever the case, we all need to realize that a layoff can turn out to be something positive. It certainly is not easy…I’m still, to this day, getting over my first layoff more than five years ago. I’m flashing back to Sami’s bio on her blog where she talks about the “D” word. I remember her saying that the best revenge is a life well lived. I have similar emotions about my “L” word. Thank you, again, for your support and have a great day!

3 Eric | Eden Journal November 5, 2009 at 12:22 pm

You have learned some good lessons. Too bad you had to go through the experience to learn them. I was laid off and out of work for about three months earlier this year. I thoroughly enjoyed my time off. I would have never taken three months off in the middle of my career to spend time with my family, and I’m very happy that it was forced upon me.

I wonder if your advice to not take the first offer is wise in the current state of the economy. I did end up taking the first job I was offered, yet continued to search for and apply for other jobs. I have yet to receive any other offers, although I did get a couple of interviews. It just seems like it’s a tough market for a job seeker to be choosey in.
.-= Eric | Eden Journal´s last post…The Open Mind Test – Part 2: A Great Teacher, A Little Philosophy, and A Whole Lot of Love =-.

4 Tim November 5, 2009 at 1:03 pm

Hi Eric: You might be right about my point #9…it certainly depends on one’s circumstances. That point might really deserve an asterisk. When I wrote that lesson, I was flashing back to my last couple job hunts. In one situation, I got “hired” after a quick 20 minute interview for a marketing/sales position. I was convinced they would have literally hired anyone off the street. I just did not feel comfortable with the culture at that company and felt it wouldn’t be in my best long-term interest. I think I’ve written that lesson from the perspective of someone who, in the past, has settled for opportunities that may not have been best for me long-term.

One thing that is unfortunate about our country is our lack of vacation time compared to other countries. We work so hard for our two or three weeks off each year. If there is one positive part of a layoff, it is the opportunity to slow down, catch our breath and regroup (at least initially). It is good to hear that you were only out three months. Thanks for stopping by!

5 Nadia - Happy Lotus November 8, 2009 at 10:26 am

Hi Tim,

This is my favorite post so far. Thank you so much for sharing what you have learned from being laid off. I have been out of work for the last two months and am now going on the third month. It has been very interesting in so many ways.

The two things that you wrote that really struck a chord with me is that this is a blessing in disguise and to take the time to clear our heads before searching for another job. I so much needed to be reminded of this…thank you again! :)
.-= Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last post…My November Dose of Tough Love =-.

6 Tim November 8, 2009 at 4:34 pm

Nadia: I am sorry to hear about your work situation. I remember reading about your time off, but didn’t know it was permanent. Yeah, I think a little head clearing is important. My first layoff was such a shock for me, I experienced a wide range of emotions. It is so important to have all of that behind you when you walk into an interview. I’ve also been at networking events where I listen to people give their “elevator pitch” and it is obvious when some of them still seem a little bitter with their former employer. I’m also convinced that some layoffs can be blessings…even a layoff at what I thought was my favorite job. I can tell from reading your blog is that you are such a good soul filled with positive energy and an incredibly gifted writer and storyteller. I know something good will happen from this. Thank you so much for the good words and support.

7 Steven Handel November 11, 2009 at 10:31 pm

Good article. I have never been laid off but I can definitely relate to the pleasures and life lessons from not having a job. Personally, I prefer to be the only authority over my own time.
.-= Steven Handel´s last post…How Stress Ruins Everything And What You Can Do About It =-.

8 Tim November 12, 2009 at 8:53 am

Hi Steven: I know what you mean about being the only authority over your time. I have been talking to and learning from a lot of entrepreneurs out there and I’m very intrigued. Thank you for stopping by here.

9 Eirien November 12, 2009 at 1:36 pm

I’m not very experienced in the working world, only having ever worked a small handful of jobs myself. But with #10 I read that as a silent, “We don’t lay people off because they get frustrated by (poor management/wages/etc) and quit long before that!”

Big warning sign for me.

10 Tim November 12, 2009 at 2:46 pm

Hi Eirien: Thanks for stopping by…when I put #10 up there I was honest…I worked at what was my favorite job. There was very little turnover at that job and we were treated well by management. I had many people tell me that the company never let people go. I felt reassured by this, however I learned later that there is an exception for everything…my client cutback their spending and they let me go.

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