What Experiencing a Job Layoff is Actually Like

General Finance

By: Matt Spillar

We all have those friends on social media that portray their life as perfect. They’re always eating at some trendy new restaurant or taking an exotic vacation that looks amazing. The truth is, their life isn’t perfect. If you pull back that curtain and dig deeper you find that they’re only showing you the highlight reel of their life, not the full picture.

That’s essentially what social media is, a collection of everyone’s best moments. It’s easy to scroll through your social media news feeds and feel inadequate.

Sometimes it feels like some bloggers do this as well, portraying themselves as having it all together. That doesn’t connect well with people though. People want honesty, rawness, vulnerability. It’s much easier to connect with the people that show cracks in their armor, they’re relatable.

The reason I blog is to help people through my own journey with money. That involves discussing the areas I do well, and also my shortcomings that I continue to work on. Today’s post pulls back the curtain a bit into a recent speed bump I had on my journey.

What Experiencing a Job Layoff is Actually Like

It felt like any other day at the office. We had just finished lunch and our daily game of ping pong. I sat back down at my desk, ready to power through the second half of my workday. Then a message popped up from one of the bosses of the company, “Can we meet?”

I immediately had a suspicion that something was wrong.

The company had been going through a rough patch. Numbers were declining, multiple layoffs had already happened.

I walked into the meeting room and sat down. He looked across the table at me, with anguish in his eyes.

“As you know, numbers are down. We’ve had to make some really difficult decisions. We’ve got to let you go.”

My stomach dropped. It had happened.

We finished up the conversation, I shook his hand, and went back to my desk. I packed up my belongings, said some quick goodbyes, and that was it.

I don’t have a single negative remark to make about my previous employer. I always felt welcomed and valued. I formed friendships with coworkers, learned a lot, and grew in my career.

But being laid off was hard, and emotionally taxing. One day I had full-time employment, and the next day I had no idea where I was going to end up. It almost felt like a breakup, “it’s not you, it’s me.”

Sometimes breakups happen because you did something wrong, often times they happen because things just don’t work out. I took solace in the fact that my lay-off wasn’t performance-based, it occurred because business was down.

Steps I Took After Being Laid Off

1. Let it sink in.

Like I said, it felt a little like a breakup. I needed some time to wrap my mind around what had happened. I needed to reflect on what I enjoyed about my previous job and what I’d want to look for in the future.

2. Stay positive.

Easy and cliche to say, extremely hard to put into practice. Some days were easy to remain optimistic and believe brighter days were ahead. Some days were difficult, as I replayed the meeting over and over in my head. It was hard to come to grips that some of our goals would have to be put on hold as we dealt with this new challenge.

3. Update your resume and LinkedIn, reach out to your network.

I’m blessed to have a lot of amazing people in my life. It’s important to leverage those relationships in times of need and to return the favor whenever possible.

4. Sign up for unemployment.

For some people, it involves setting your pride aside a little bit. It’s assistance that’s offered for circumstances like this, so why shouldn’t you utilize it when you need it? I had been paying into the system for 10 years, now it was my turn to receive some money back.

5. Determine your baseline expenses.

You need to figure out how much money your bare necessities cost, and how that compares to the amount of money you’ll have coming in from other sources. Without your full-time income it’s highly likely you’ll be spending more than you’re bringing in. This is a perfect illustration as to why it’s so important to build up an emergency fund. We had an emergency fund built up, and when the first wave of layoffs happened we stopped paying down our student loan debt as aggressively and switched to padding our savings.

I referred to this amount as our “bleed rate,” the amount we were dipping into our savings each month to cover our expenses. This ended up being a source of comfort because our “bleed rate” was low enough that our savings would be able to cover it for quite some time. This helped take a lot of pressure off. I still had a sense of urgency, but I didn’t have to be desperate, I could take my time to find the right fit.

6. Continue to develop and cultivate marketable skills.

I had experienced being unemployed before, for about 6 months. I was fresh off finishing an internship and looking for my first full-time position. It took longer than I expected. I applied to a lot of job positions, went on a number of interviews, but struggled to find a mutually good fit. This was largely because my marketable skillset was narrow. I had a good amount of relevant experience on my resume, but it was very focused. I also hadn’t discovered my niche. Starting this blog was one of the ways I made progress in both of these areas, expanding my marketable skills and discovering my niche of content marketing.

7. Find or ramp up a side hustle.

Another source of comfort I had was knowing that I had a second income source, in the form of a side hustle. This helped us get by while I looked for a new full-time job. I also had this blog as a creative outlet to pour my time and energy into and keep my skills sharp.

8. Apply to a lot of different job openings.

It may seem obvious, but it’s extremely important to stay motivated and cast a wide net. It’s easy to get discouraged. Avoid the temptation of complacency, and set goals for each day.

A New Beginning

I was laid off in early March and ended up finding a new job in about 6 weeks, much better than the 6 months I had experienced a few years prior. My new position is a tremendous opportunity with a lot of potential to continue to advance in my career. I’ll be learning and growing a ton in this new role.

I hadn’t realized it, but I had become comfortable in my previous role. I was no longer being challenged or learning new skills, but I would have continued to stay simply because of familiarity and the relationships I had built. This wouldn’t have been as effective for my career growth, but this is far from a rarity. Change is often difficult and uncomfortable, people prefer to stick with the status quo.

Sometimes it takes a major speed bump to divert you onto a new, better path. That’s what happened to me. I may not have it all together, but I’m excited about where I’m at in life. Sometimes a positive attitude, a strong work ethic, and constant learning can lead to big opportunities.

Effective writing takes vulnerability. While these events were happening I only shared it with family and close friends, but now that I’ve made it over the speed bump it seemed time to open up to my readers. Hopefully, this brings you some encouragement in whatever difficulty you’re currently facing, keep growing and pushing forward.

Republished with the permission of Spills Spot.

Steve handles the operational side of Rockstar by keeping the systems running smoothly, social media accounts active and curation buttery smooth. He also answers to the name “Do-It-All Boy”.

Steve is also the founder of ThinkSaveRetire.com – a site where he shares ideas and techniques on how to retire from your 9-5 job and start to enjoy the virtues that life has to offer outside of full-time work. Life is about more than fluorescent lights and gray cubicles!

Last modified: June 11, 2018

16 Responses to :
What Experiencing a Job Layoff is Actually Like

  1. I’m 20 days into this similar situation. Same words. “We’re going to let you go”, I saw it coming for two months prior but was expecting at the end of June, not May. I was 200 days from early retirement and on my terms, or so I thought. After two weeks of negotiating the severance package, I sign off on it today. I’ve also signed up for employment insurance. I’ve decided on Cobra until the end of the year, and the unemployment checks will cover just about all of it. The state of Illinois has a pretty good job board that is providing some new ideas and directions. I look forward to a role in the new gig economy.
    The shock of the quick dismissal began to wear off on the flight home, I began to relax and smile.
    I spent last 10 years preparing for not depending on a corporate job for income. Pretty soon, a switch in my mind will flip to go from savings mode to cash burning mode. This for me is the most difficult part of early retirement. I was so good at accumulation, now I’ll have to learn to relax and begin to use what I prepared for. For

    1. ESI says:

      Congrats! You prepared for this, so you are in a MUCH better position than most.

      And you’re right, it starts with shock, but soon you realize it’s a blessing.

      All my best to you on the journey!

  2. This is indeed a terrific post! Gratz on Matt for pulling through in 6 weeks! I think it took most people I knew either really quick (weeks) or longer (6 months). Layoffs do feel like break ups. I think what I hear is like “I gave them the best years of my life” etc. which is something a divorcee would say.

    1. Al says:

      I am in an older age group and it did not take 6 weeks to 6 months for the people I knew of my age group to find another job after a layoff. Sometimes, they never found another job in the corporate world again and had to reinvent themselves to do something different. All goes to show that one must never have any emotional attachment to the company one works for.

    2. Thanks Lily! Was very thankful that the period of unemployment was so short, because it’s certainly not always the case.

  3. Tom G. says:

    At the risk of sounding a bit brutal, “We had just finished lunch and our daily game of ping pong” sounds like one indication that something is very wrong, particularly at a company where “Numbers were declining, multiple layoffs had already happened”.

    In that kind of an environment one needs to be checking the parachute while simultaneously striving to ensure that one is not on the list. (Yes, that might mean time is best spent on things on other than ping-pong.)

    Any way, glad it worked out – your follow-up steps seemed quite reasonable. I’d also suggest a step involving self-reflection aimed at answering the questions: Why did this happen to me, what did I learn, how will I avoid being surprised again.

    1. Matt Spillar says:

      Hi Tom, I appreciate the feedback. I can see how that line could be taken in a negative light. As strange as it may seem, that’s a very normal part of the startup culture in the Silicon Valley. We all had an hour lunch break and would use the time to unwind. My work ethic, commitment and performance were never in question. It came down to numbers being down and not having as much seniority as others at the company. I have no doubt that even if I had stayed chained to my desk it wouldn’t have mattered. The numbers being down were not due to lack of performance, it was the cyclical nature of the industry we were in.

  4. Matt Spillar says:

    Thanks Steve and ESI for featuring my post! I really appreciate the opportunity and hope it’s an encouragement to all the RSF readers!

  5. This really hits home for me. Tomorrow marks 3 years since I was laid off. The writing was on the wall and I was working hard to leave on my own terms, but I wasn’t able to make it happen in time. We were a one-income household to begin with, so going from one income to none income was quite an experience. Thankfully, our savings carried us through and we came out the other side relatively unscathed. It was a roller coaster of emotions, but at the same time, it was a tremendous learning experience. Thanks for sharing your story.

  6. Ian Bond says:

    I made it through the GFC because I was the one firing everyone. When my income didn’t rebound I set a course to have a disaster plan in place and quickly build alternative income sources.

    We moved overseas where you can lengthen your career (I’m 61) and we own several ecommerce sites that earn 5 figures a month.

    Kiyosaki says employees seek security and entrepreneurs seek freedom. There’s not as much security as there used to be for sure.

  7. Thanks for sharing Matt. Lots of great tips here. Physicians have relatively good job security, but I have known some who have lost their jobs. This post is very useful and can be a source of encouragement for many.

  8. BGM says:

    Why publish this under rockstar rather than posting the link? I’m sure you got permission to republish, but seems like you’re trying to profit from someone else’s work. If you want to publish content directly, shouldn’t you create that content?

    1. ESI says:

      It’s called syndicating content. And of course we got permission.

      Content syndication is common for larger sites. For example, much of what is on CNBC, Marketwatch, and most other very large sites is syndicated from other sites (I syndicate my own posts through many sites).

      The advantage to the larger site is that it gets “new” content to share with its readers.

      The advantage to the smaller site is that it exposes their content to a new, larger audience.

      There’s other technical stuff like the posts are marked so all the SEO juice goes to the original site, etc, but that’s the heart of why it works — it’s a win-win for both.

      We do post original content (like the book reviews, Money Match-ups, etc.) but part of Rockstar Finance’s heritage is sharing great content to a large audience. We do that on the site in posts each weekday (listing our features), in emails (listing twice as many posts), and now by syndicating content.

      What’s the problem any way? If the original site owner is ok with it, why would you have a problem? And if you do have a problem, why don’t you simply select not to read it?

      1. BGM says:

        Re: the request not to read it – how do I know what is syndicated vs. a direct link until after I’ve clicked on it? Doesn’t look like there’s an easy way to tell – although maybe the first link of the day is always syndicated? Probably should have figured that out by now, but I just open all the links in a new tab and don’t read them in a particular order.

        There are two problems with it. First is that with a direct link – if I find the article particularly compelling – it’s much easier for me to explore other work by the author and bookmark the blog for future reference. Also, with the Rockstar version, readers miss out on the formatting, etc. choices the original author chooses for their blog – so we miss out on some of the personality of the original author.

        Second, it’s listed as “Rockstar content” – which seems disingenuous given that it’s actually content from other blogs and people. Why are some articles syndicated while most are direct links? Thinking about it a bit more – my issue may just be the lack of transparency / lack of education about content syndication – plus enjoying seeing the formatting choices of the original bloggers (and chance to be easily drawn into their other articles).

        1. ESI says:

          There’s no way to tell prior to looking at the post itself — just like there’s no way of telling what’s syndicated on Marketwatch, CNBC, or any other large site until you read it.

          If you’re so hung up on seeing the formatting, you can click to the original post at the end of the Rockstar post.

          As for labeling it “Rockstar content”, that’s simply a category we’ve created that allows us to place it in a specific area of the site (which we can designate in WordPress).

          I think your issue is simply not understanding syndicated content and how it’s used by both large sites and those trying to reach larger audiences.

          BTW, here’s an example of what syndication partnerships can do for smaller blogs — their posts get picked up by larger and larger sites — and they get exposure to a whole new (and usually very large) audience:

          https://twitter.com/mso_life/status/1006626417012961281

    2. Steve A. says:

      Like ESI said, this is a syndicated piece, and syndication is very popular among media outlets. It holds tremendous value to both parties as it helps spread the word about what different people are doing and saying. The advantage to keeping it here on Rockstar is the longevity of the content. On a well-trafficked site, syndicated content will continue making the rounds across the Internet, which naturally bodes quite well for both the host of the syndicated content as well as the original source.

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