It’s hard to believe, but last Friday marked a month since my last day at Intersections.
For the past four weeks, I’ve taken in a lot. Good and bad. Of course, the irony of all this is that when I was hired by Intersections, the Recession was in full swing. And at the beginning of 2012, where a variety of news outlets from around the world were all noticing an economic turnaround at the beginning of 2012, I was downsized.
In this month, from the day I was let go to now, I’ve learned a lot. Granted, each layoff is different. Some involve severance packages. Others do not. Some employers treat you with respect. Others waste no time in getting you out of the door. It’s hard to predict how bad news like this will come, but I can say — after a month of letting the dust settle — there are at least five things to keep in mind when Corporate America pulls the rug out from under you.
5. Don’t panic. It’s easy to do when the news hits; and while quoting Douglas Adams may seem kind of trite coming from a geek, it really is true. Flipping out is not going to help anyone, and it’s going to make you look like a chump. I’ll admit, I felt a twinge of panic when I was told about how long my health coverage would last. I took a deep breath, and thought, “Don’t panic. Go out with class.” When all the formalities were done, I looked the executive in the eye and said, “It’s been a good run. Thank you.”
Keep it together. Keep it classy.
4. DO. NOT. MELTDOWN. THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA. When I was packing up my office, I saw that my TweetDeck was still running. I felt an urge to tweet “So this is what it’s like to get laid off.” but with my fingers over the keyboard, I paused. I thought about it. Really thought about it.
I immediately took my hands away, and shut down my computer.
What would have sharing my real-time bad news accomplished? Making Intersections look bad? Rally my troops so I can feel better for myself? Light a fuse for a complete online rant? Social Media has a bad reputation for being all about the vitriol because of people melting down as if Twitter or Facebook is a therapist’s couch. Remember that when you go public on social networks, you are going public. Everyone and anyone can see it. How do you want to be remembered at your job and represented online?
A Social Media Meltdown is nothing more than a chump move, and it’s burning bridges that you might want to leave alone.
3. Get organized. By the time I got home (roughly thirty minutes after leaving the parking lot), Pip looked up and said to me “There is a file on your Dropbox with job leads. Good hunting.” I sat down and immediately checked over my LinkedIn page, and even made the investment into a “Premium” account in order to get a few extra bells and whistles.
Within twenty-four hours, I had applied for 16 available Social Media jobs. This week, the number is now 76.
You want to keep your cool, but that doesn’t mean you stay idle. Spend an hour a day searching for jobs, then make one day out of your week the day you go out job hunting. Keep a spreadsheet so you can track what you’ve applied for and when, and keep track of any responses — even from staffing agencies — you get from your applications.
2. Keep it classy when reaching out for references. When downsized, keep this in mind: It’s not personal. This means that you have a window of opportunity —preferably within the first week of the layoff — in getting some good references from where you work.
I reached out to the executives I dealt with directly and sent the following note:
I wanted to thank you for two-and-a-half terrific years with your company, Intersections. I’m looking back on my time with you all, and I’ve got nothing but positive experiences staring back at me. Intersections gave me a chance when no one else would, and Intersections stood by me through one of the darkest times of my life. Couple that with the opportunities and accomplishments I enjoyed while working there, all I can say is “thank you.” My only regret was that Intersections could not find a place for me.
Each version of this letter was different, personalized for each executive I approached.
Within ten minutes I had my first reply. From the C.E.O.
Two days later, I had his letter of recommendation.
A recommendation on LinkedIn. Permission for phone referrals. I got a solid list of references, and these references happened because I didn’t make this personal. This was about numbers. This was about business.
1. Enjoy some downtime for yourself. Yes, I’m suggesting you keep yourself busy, get your references and your resumes in order, and plan for the hunt ahead of you; but make time for you.
When the layoff happened, I had plans with friends that night. Pip suggested I cancel. “No,” I told her. “I don’t want to hide. I want to be around friends.” All weekend, and since then, I’ve been doing just that. Friends. Neighbors.
And, of course, family.
Since the layoff, I’ve been enjoying morning walks with Sonic Boom to school. I then come home and start writing. I’ve been writing. A lot. Two short stories. A novella. (And not all of it was steampunk…but most of it was.) Quality time with The Janus Affair and its final layout.
Whether I planned for it or not, I’ve got time. Loads of it. So I’m taking advantage of it.
Take advantage of time you find yourself having. Bank some quality memories with your family. If you’re a writer, get some ideas down on paper. Or take this opportunity to broaden your skillset. Your job hunt will be there, waiting for you once you get back from what you’ve set aside for yourself. Prepare yourself for your job hunt. Don’t obsess over it.
There will be some days that are going to be easier than others. By doing some footwork immediately afterward, though, you feel like you’re taking the right steps. As I mentioned before, every layoff is different; but if you find yourself in an unexpected, unwanted career change, maybe this blogpost will give you some things to keep your sanity.
Another option in keeping your sanity: Captioned pictures of housepets. Laughter makes everything — even getting laid off — a bit more tolerable.