4 Lessons I Learned After Being Laid Off

Going through a layoff can be really tough and emotional. Personally, when I got laid off, it shook my confidence, tested my resilience, and left me uncertain about what the future holds. But amidst all the chaos of my “Laid Off Era”, I surprisingly discovered an opportunity for personal growth, self-discovery, and embracing new possibilities. I want to share my experience with you while shedding light on the importance of discussing a topic that is often considered a taboo – something that affects so many of us but doesn’t get talked about enough. In 2022 alone, over 93,000 individuals in the tech industry experienced layoffs. That’s a staggering number of people not talking about something truly significant that affects so many of us. Is it really career suicide to talk about getting laid off? I guess I’m about to find out. My hope is that in writing this article and sharing the lessons I’ve learned, it can provide comfort and support to others going through a similar journey.


If you’re reading this and experiencing a layoff, I’m genuinely sorry. It’s really tough. I could tell you all day that it’s their loss, but I know that might not be much comfort right now. My dad used to say that the worst situations can often lead to something better. Believe me, you’ll find your way and end up in a place even better than you can imagine. I believe in you.


As I share each lesson, I’ll also share:

  • An action step I took that helped me along the way
  • A book I read that offered advice or inspiration
  • A phrase I repeated to myself in front of the mirror (and still do)

I’m not an expert on the topic of being laid off. This article may not help you land a new job. I’m just someone going through it and finding ways to cope. These might not work for everyone, or you might think it to be really dumb or irrelevant, but I wanted to share in case something here could help you, even just a little bit.

Lesson #1: Take a Damn Moment

My previous company broke the news with compassion and as much support as one could in such a situation. When the Zoom call ends, I call my boyfriend, tears streaming down my face while he’s at work. My hands are trembling. I’m angry, scared, and struggling to believe it’s real. I react on impulse. I hurry to my LinkedIn profile and start making edits, overthinking every word. I tear up my resume, typing and erasing repeatedly, feeling like nothing I’ve accomplished is worthy anymore. I write a heartfelt message on LinkedIn expressing gratitude for the change in my job. Though I mean every word, posting it leaves me deeply confused and scared. In the coming weeks, I apply to countless jobs without fully reading their descriptions, trying to convince myself I’m moving forward. It’s like an Oprah moment: “You get my resume,” “You get my resume,” and “You get my resume,” in a frenzy. I spend hours glued to the computer, hopping from one job site to another, assuming it’s what’s expected of me. It must be, right?

I wish I could tell you that this story ends magically with me quickly finding a new, amazing, well-paying job with a fancy title. I wish I could say I had a moment of realization to enjoy my severance as a break, slow down, and be present, taking time to recharge. But that’s not how it happened for me. What I can say, though, is that one morning, after pushing myself hard during a Peloton bike class and hurting my lower back, I got really hungry. I made breakfast, sat down, and propped my phone against a water bottle while opening a job finder app. As I took a bite of my yogurt, bran flakes, and berries, I missed my mouth completely, and the food ended up on my shirt. I sighed. Even though I’m usually a messy eater, this small moment felt really heavy. I felt like I couldn’t even handle the little things anymore! What’s wrong with me?

Yikes, it sounds like I need to slow down and take a more thoughtful approach to eating, but also to navigating the layoff. I have to let go of the societal pressures of what I assume everyone else wants from me. I have to let go of thinking that work is the only thing I’m good at. I want to be intentional about my next move and ensure each application aligns with my values, skills, and aspirations. I also realize I don’t need to figure it all out today. I can enjoy my breakfast without my phone app open, wipe up silly spills without feeling hopeless, and truly determine how I want to use my energy. Yes, I know I need to find a job, but the steps I take to find it matter too.

My first list

Now, here’s my “easier said than done advice”. Take it or leave it:

  • Actionable-ish: MAKE LISTS. During this period, I’m making lists of how I do and don’t want to spend my time. Time is energy, and I want to be clear about how I’m using mine. I write down all the things I do and don’t want to do, without judgement. These things might sound crazy. They may make no sense. But I just write. I’m then using that list as my focus to start seeking out opportunities that fit into the vision for my next steps. I revisit the list every week or so and write another list, knowing what I now know and doing what I’m now doing.
  • Book recommendation: The Mountain is You: Transforming Self Sabotage into Self-Mastery by Brianna Wiest
  • Repeat this 10 times in front of the mirror: I can’t have complete control, but I can learn to let go of what isn’t helping me.

Lesson #2: Feel your feelings, even when they suck

I want to talk honestly about the emotional rollercoaster that comes with a layoff. It’s uncomfortable, it’s tough, but I know it’s important to confront these feelings head-on, even when I don’t feel like it. When it happened to me, I tried to act strong, assuring everyone that I was okay.

Have you also asked yourself these questions, or is it just me?

  • Who am I now without my job?
  • Do I still have relevant skills, or am I falling behind?
  • How will I pay my bills?
  • Is there something wrong with me?
  • Am I good enough?

Honestly, behind closed doors, I find myself crying as I send out job applications, write cover letters, and face rejections. Losing my dad just nine months before the layoff adds to the weight of grief, making everything feel overwhelming. Trying to bury my emotions doesn’t seem like the right path. I feel tense and irritable, even the smallest issues seem like big problems. Avoiding my feelings will only make things worse in the long run. So, I work really hard to confront every emotion, even when it’s incredibly hard. I rely on my boyfriend for support—he’s always there to listen and offer advice. Allowing myself to feel and express without judgment is essential for my well-being, but it doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m more of the “stuff feelings under the rug” kinda gal. If I don’t share though, I end up consistently waking up at 3 am, caught in a panic attack.

Super thankful for the endless support & jokes from my boyfriend

During times like these, asking for help is really important (yes, I mean you, people pleasers). I’m reaching out to friends, family, and even trusted colleagues in the industry, like those in the CX Accelerator or SupportDriven communities. I’m finding that others can offer surprising levels of compassion, understanding, and guidance. If I need it, I won’t hesitate to seek therapy either—there’s no shame in that. Sharing my emotions with people who truly understand brings a lot of relief and comfort.

Now, here’s my “easier said than done” advice:

  • Emotional Ish: Allow yourself to grieve the loss. Recognize that a layoff can feel like losing a piece of your identity, and that’s okay. Validating your emotions gives you room to heal and grow personally. Take steps to find a therapist, or if you no longer have medical insurance, reach out to your local clinic or low-cost insurance provider, as mental health benefits may be available for free. You can also explore online mental health platforms like BetterHelp or TalkSpace.
  • Book Recommendation: The Grief Recovery Handbook by John W. James and Russel Friedman and I thought it was Just Me (But It Isn’t) by Brene Brown
  • Repeat this 10 times in front of the mirror: Remember, it’s okay to feel, and it’s okay to ask for help. I’m not alone in this journey, and healing will come with time and self-compassion.

Lesson #3: Find something to give a crap about

Once I got laid off, it felt like my career aspirations and goals came screeching to a roadblock. I firmly believed that work is the only thing I was good at. Without it, I wondered who I really am. Surprisingly, this setback can offer a chance to step back and think about what truly counts. I know it may sound a bit cliché, but it’s worth asking: Can I use this time to rediscover my strengths, passions, and what genuinely makes me happy? Often, in the hustle of work, I tend to forget about hobbies and interests. So why not engage in activities that bring me joy? It could be as simple as painting, playing an instrument, cooking, or spending time with kids. Or I could try something completely new!

When my dad was dying, he told me he wished he had spent more time with my sister and me when we were kids. He said, “If I could go back and do it over, I would have worked less.” That’s a powerful lesson, isn’t it?

Things I’ve been doing that I never thought I had time for:

  1. Volunteering at a local dog rescue: I discovered the joy of helping animals in need.
  2. Trying furniture flipping: Surprisingly, I found satisfaction in revamping old furniture pieces.
  3. Becoming a part-time dog walker: It turned out to be a great way to stay active and spend time with cute pups.

Volunteering with puppies really brightens things up

Honestly, these pursuits were never part of my big plan. I hadn’t even realized I was interested in them until life led me in these directions. Friend recommendations and the wonders of the Instagram algorithm (thanks, tech!) brought these chances to my attention. You never know until you try, right? I’m currently working as a customer service coach on the Joy Plus app. I’ve also set up my own website to showcase my freelance work. Amidst feeling lost and unsure about my next moves, I decided to fully embrace what’s in front of me and stay open to opportunities, even if they’re outside my comfort zone. It’s true, these efforts aren’t paying my bills right now (at least not yet!), but they’ve re energized me, opened doors to unexpected options, and hinted at a potential career shift.

Now, here’s the “easier said than done” advice:

  • Actionable-ish: Be open to new experiences. Try something you’ve never tried before. Embrace those endeavors you’ve been putting off. And if, like me, you find yourself feeling lost and unsure, don’t hesitate to seek inspiration from your friends. Their ideas and perspectives may lead you to exciting new opportunities. If you want to volunteer but are not sure how to start, Google it. If your favorite non-profit is miles away, check in with them about remote opportunities. If you’re not sure how to be creative, go walk around your local craft store and see what calls to you. Find a local meetup group for a topic you enjoy or want to learn more about. Take a Udemy class to learn a new skill.
  • Book recommendation: Don’t Keep Your Day Job by Cathy Heller
  • Repeat this 10 times in front of the mirror: I am so much more than just my work. 

Lesson #4: Resetting Expectations on the Job Hunt

When it comes to looking for your next job, you’ll inevitably spend so many hours on job boards, sending out application after application. I’ve experienced this firsthand, just like you. In fact, from January to February alone, I’ve sent out 74 job applications. To keep everything organized, I made an Excel spreadsheet, a helpful suggestion from a colleague. This spreadsheet has become my trusty job hunting sidekick, with columns containing fields like:

  • Date Applied
  • Job Title
  • Company Name
  • Job Listing URL
  • Reason I Applied
  • Date Heard Back
  • Rejection (Y/N)
  • Interview (Y/N)

Did someone say pizza?

If you’re curious about the numbers, let me share a pizza pie of statistics from my experience. Out of the 74 applications I sent, 55% left me hanging in the void of silence, with no reply whatsoever. Another 41% swiftly auto-rejected my application, leaving me with a twinge of disappointment. As for the remaining 4%, I managed to secure interviews. But alas, of those interviews, 3% kindly informed me that I was overqualified and moved on to other candidates. And the final 1% didn’t provide any explanation for their decision to move forward without me.

Simply put, searching for a job became a full-time job itself.

Equipped with a freshly updated resume courtesy of a helpful resource from my former company, I’m diving into the virtual job market. I’m refining my LinkedIn profile and creating customized cover letters for each application. However, by the end of each tiring day, I often feel utterly defeated, greeted by my understanding boyfriend who witnesses my emotional ups and downs. I can’t shake the feeling of worthlessness and irrelevance. I mean, finding a job has never been this tough for me. What shifted?

That’s when I realize I need a change in perspective and a reset of my expectations:

  • Every time I get rejected, I start seeing it as a fortunate turn of events. It’s probably better that I wouldn’t end up working for that specific company after all.
  • As for those who label me overqualified, I have to confront the truth: I’m applying for entry-level roles while my resume highlights director-level experience.
  • It’s only natural for them to consider other candidates. When I come across applications that go unanswered, I remind myself that the lack of communication and connection probably means it’s not the right match. They might be swamped with applications and don’t have the resources to reply quickly. Ultimately, it’s understandable.

Now, here’s the “easier said than done” advice:


  • Emotional-ish: Amidst the job hunt roller coaster, it’s crucial to remember a few key things. Try not to take rejections personally because it’s usually not about you anyways. Rejections often lead you away from paths that weren’t meant for you in the first place, as much as it sucks to deal with another “no” in your inbox. Understand that being overqualified can work for or against you in certain scenarios, so seek opportunities that align with your experience and aspirations. And when faced with application ghosting, recognize that it might be a sign of poor communication or overwhelming circumstances on the employer’s end…not about you. Stay resilient, keep refining your approach, and remember that the right opportunity will come your way. Find a career coach. Ask for feedback on your resume or hire a professional resume writer. 
  • Book Recommendation: Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo
  • Repeat this 10 times in front of the mirror: I didn’t want to work for them anyway!

To sum things up, I’m still on this journey alongside you. I’m learning as I move forward, and there are countless more lessons ahead. Remember, a layoff affects not only your career but also your life—it’s personal, complex, and sometimes messy. Here’s another letter I penned to myself, hanging by my desk. I encourage you to read it aloud, print it out, or even write your own version:

If there is something that resonates with you in the article, please let me know by sending me a message, either via email, LinkedIn or social media.

Now, go out there and do amazing things, my friend!


PS: Please note that some of the links on this blog are affiliate links. This means that if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services that I personally use and believe will add value to my readers. I appreciate your support!

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