Dealing with a layoff is not easy, 4 things I wished I knew then.

by | Jan 10, 2023

The last few months have been notable for massive U.S tech layoffs. Last year, more than 90,000 jobs were slashed from public and private tech companies, and in early 2023 already more than 46,000 workers at U.S.-based tech companies have been laid off, according to Crunchbase News.

My LinkedIn feed has seen a lot of mention about the current layoffs – mostly from people engaging with the posts of those affected. This has triggered my memories, feelings, and trauma of the day that I got laid-off in 2015 for the first time in my career and from a company that I loved and considered to be “my dream” job. 

I am not going to say “that I know the feeling” or that “I can relate” because times are different and with greater uncertainty. But what I can do is provide advice from what I learned and what I went through in my experience and, hopefully, someone who has been laid-off anytime in the last year or so can find value in these words.

Don’t take it personally

Business is business! I personally blamed myself when I got laid-off and felt ashamed and not worthy. But being part of a group of people that gets cut off during a company restructure, acquisition, inflation, etc. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO with your skills, talent, or persona. I wished I had realized this sooner, because at that time my self-worth and identity were so tied up in that job, I felt lost without it. You are who you are and remind yourself of your value and worth. You still have a lot to offer, even in turbulent times. We are more than a job, we are people with many skills, hobbies, interests and passions. I know it’s hard, but don’t take it personally!

Grieve and Reflect

Probably a week later after getting laid-off, I jumped right away into the job search and didn’t allow enough time to check in on myself or process my emotions. That only led to greater anxiety, depression and loneliness.. Give yourself permission, it’s OK to take the time to grieve and reflect. An event like this can be painful and traumatic, so take the time to get in tune with your thoughts, feelings, wants, and needs. The more you feel, the more you reflect, the more you allow yourself to grieve. It will make space for the healing process to begin. You can only find clarity after the storm has passed. Be in the storm, let the storm pass, rebuild after the storm! 

Don’t go through it alone

Because of the shame and guilt, I isolated myself from friends and family. I thought I had to figure it out on my own. This only made my confidence and self-esteem decrease and imposter syndrome made me doubt my every move. Even if you feel alone, you’re not! Rely on friends and family, reach out to colleagues and your network. Even complete strangers are willing to provide a helping hand and be a resource, mentor or provide a referral. Reach out! In my case, my close friends and family are not in any way connected to the corporate world. That’s why LinkedIn has become one of my favorite social networks.Throughout the years,  I’ve connected and messaged complete strangers – professionals I would never come across because we’re in different industries, different states, at different time zones, at different points of our career – but about 85% of them have accepted my connection, replied to my messages, agreed to meet with me for a virtual chat, some have even become close Linkedin friends. You’re not alone!

Talk about it

I kept my grief, my feelings, and my shame to myself. I didn’t share this with anyone. One, because as Latinos “we don’t talk about our feelings”. Two, because, as I previously mentioned, I was the only one in my family and close group of friends who had experience with Corporate American culture. I thought nobody was going to understand. If you’re able to find someone you trust to just listen to you, that will go a long way. Keeping it to yourself does not serve you. You can even find communities to join and begin talking about it. For me, I found The Latinista, a professional development organization for Latinas. I met so many amazing women, and shared my feelings and my experience and they all provided advice, validated my feelings, made me feel like I was not alone. Other communities that I found were Latinas in Tech, #WeAllGrow Latina, Techqueria, La Nueva Link, WomenTech Networks, ColorComm, Soapbox Women, Wonder Women Tech and I’m pretty sure I’m forgetting a few. There are so many communities you can become a part of, connect with their members and talk about it. Chances are they are feeling the same way or they once felt like that at one point in their career. 

Wrap Up

Everyone will experience a layoff differently depending on life circumstances, professional experience, support system, etc., but these are just a few things I wish I had done differently and hoped that someone had told me to guide myself through it. When you’re in the thick of it, it’s always hard to see the other side… but it’s there. I kept myself in a dark hole for so long that I didn’t know how to get out until I got the courage to meet with other women and share my story, became a resource to others, learned from others’ experiences, asked for help, and being OK with not knowing what my next move was going to be. There is growth and a path forward through all of this.

Not sure if this post will help anyone, but myself and my team at Latinas in Tech are trying to find ways to help those affected by the recent layoffs. Become a member (for FREE) or login to your account to access our job board and connect with recruiters at our partner companies. Make sure your profile is filled out completely so that recruiters can have full visibility to your profile. Join our slack channel and our Facebook group or one of our local chapters as an additional resource to engage with our community and expand your network.

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