Layoffs: Why The Ending Matters

There’s something I forgot to say in my letter about layoff lessons. It hit me last Friday just after the letter was published. I was driving my van to the mechanic and in no surprise to me, a series of things went wrong right in a row. Most of you know that is pretty typical of my van life by now (like that time I had to drive a road backwards). 

It was a lot of little things – nothing catastrophic. I didn’t latch a drawer and my pots and pans went flying. I hit a low tree branch. Then, for my final act, I left a glass of water on the counter between tasks. Without thinking, I started maneuvering the van into the driveway and that enormous glass of water spilled everywhere. 

A year ago, a series of events like this would have sent me on a spiral about why I never should have entertained a life filled with unpredictable surprises. But that day made the thing I should have said in last week’s letter clear: layoffs are not your fault.

I think what hurt the most when I was laid off is that I wasn’t prepared for the ending – financially or emotionally. I wouldn’t have taken any job if I had an idea I would get laid off someday.

It left me questioning everything and wondering if I actually did anything right. I spent my whole life saving, planning, and creating a career road map only to have it blow up in my face. As much as I planned and strategized my way through my career beginnings, I wasn’t ever prepared for the endings. I imagine those labels that tell you “images in mirror are closer than they appear” – that’s how the endings felt: closer than I expected. Too close for comfort. 

I’ll never be good at feeling like things ended well when they ended without my permission. I don’t expect anyone to be. But here’s what I do know in reflecting on those endings. 

Looking back, I was miserable in the role where I was laid off. I told myself I wasn’t good enough for another job so I didn’t quit. The unexpected ending was the thing to get me out of the job I wouldn’t quit on my own. A stepping stone toward this company I love. At the time, it felt like my life had imploded when in fact, I was ready to move forward. I just wasn’t expecting the method. 

As much as I took responsibility for everything going wrong, every redirection has been the ending I needed. I was ready even if I didn’t think so. I had what I needed to go and get what I wanted. 

You do, too. 

So if you feel like you’re failing because you’ve experienced unexpected endings, this is your reminder that it’s not your fault. You have what you need. You’re just moving forward in a way you weren’t expecting. Whatever comes next – whether it’s with a clang, smash, or a splash – you’re ready. 

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,, 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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