Layoff Lessons

I decided to log into Facebook this week quickly to be reminded why I don’t like logging into Facebook. That place is a wasteland of questions that go unanswered, keyboard warriors, and pretty pictures that tell half a story. I don’t like it. 

As I scrolled my feed, I saw a series of people had posted about getting laid off. Condolences in the comments. Then, a response to one of those posts caught me off guard. They said something along the lines of “that’s a bad attitude.”

Normally I wouldn’t respond because I know that arguing with people on the internet will take up space in my brain. But then I said the thing anyway. “That’s not helpful.” I immediately regretted taking the time to say anything after I saw their harsh response ended with, “who hurt you?”

In so surprise to me, it took up space in my mind against my will. The question over and over. Then, I realized he was right. I did get hurt when I was laid off from a job in corporate America a few days before my dreams were supposed to come true.

If you’ve seen me speak, you probably know the story about losing my job a few days before I bought a house. But what I don’t talk about on stage are the next three hours that were filled with tears. The three days when I went right into work mode, spending 12 hours a day applying for jobs and networking. The next three weeks while I waited for post interview updates. The next three months as I went through a divorce. I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say it took at least three years to rediscover some semblance of confidence or trust anyone after that. Mostly, to trust myself again.

I put so much of my worth into the work I did in the office. I worked so hard. I believed that putting in the effort would protect me from hard endings. I thought if I showed up and put in 100% at a company, I wouldn’t get that layoff email from an anonymous inbox I couldn’t even reply to. I wouldn’t have an ominous meeting appear on my calendar. I wouldn’t get divorced.

When it happened anyway, you better believe I was hurt.

I was hurt by a work relationship where I could give everything – even giving up happiness at home – and get laid off without notice. I was hurt to realize the companies that rely on us for work can’t be relied on to take care of us. I was hurt to realize that no matter how hard I worked, these endings may happen.

For so long, I blamed myself. I had this scarlet letter L for layoff. I had to work harder.

That just wasn’t true.

I hope you know it’s true for you too. You don’t have to work harder than anyone else, especially in the post-tremor of a layoff. If you’re in a bad mood because you were laid off? Be in a bad mood. Take a nap, eat some snacks, whatever you need to heal and rest. The job search isn’t a piggy bank that you can put activities into to get the outcome you wanted. You can take a day off.

Oh, and don’t go anywhere near Facebook.

Weekly Letters

Kat Kibben View All →

Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.

Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.

Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.

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