5 Steps to Avoid Crumbling When You Get Laid Off in the Pandemic

5 Steps to Avoid Crumbling When You Get Laid Off in the Pandemic

Whenever your manager calls an impromptu meeting for the entire team at the end of the work day, you get a little bit nervous. What is so emergent that you have to pull us all together so quickly? Well, yesterday, when this happened to me and my team, it was because the business leaders decided to pull the plug on our development project.  Just like that, a new business leader comes in and decides that the year of planning, work and products delivered is not what he wants.

Never mind that the other guy, the one that commissioned the project considered this critical to the business.

Now, “we’re going in a different direction”.

What the entire fuck!

 

 

My heart instantly sank. Our lead told us that undoubtedly there would be layoffs. There is no room on other projects to absorb everyone on the team. Immediate next steps were to wrap up loose ends and wait to hear from your direct manager for news about your specific situation. Or, shall I say, “shituation”? 

I got the call a couple of hours ago that I’ll be laid off. This is a first for me. But, the worry feels familiar. You see, while I’ve never been laid off before, I have been fired a few times.  My performance was never called into question. In fact, I was often getting accolades from one group while the other one was planning my demise. Looking back, I can chalk it up to the Pet to Threat phenomenon. The theory goes that white people are happy to hire an eager, young bright Black woman, but the minute you demonstrate anything that looks like you might be smarter than the boss that brought you in, you’re out.

Or, shall I say, I was out.

I’ll write more about that another time. This occasion doesn’t appear to have anything to do with me being Black. The whole lot of us have gotten our remote pink slips.  We are still in a pandemic though, so that little caveat doesn’t do much for my rent and bills. 

What am I gonna do? That’s the first thing. My mind races through a list of obligations I have and which ones I can do without. Car note? I paid the last one yesterday. That’s a blessing. Unlimited data? Nah, that will have to be cut back to 5 Gigs or something cheaper. Now seems like the perfect time to read more and cut some of these streaming services. 

 

1. Create a Plan

Planning is the first thing I do so as not to crumble when I found myself unemployed during the pandemic. At the top of my mind is my bills. I have a simple spreadsheet that lists all of my expenses and I analyze it to find things to cut. For example, the first thing I cut was my Verizon bill. Since, I’m at home and I have Wi-Fi here, I don’t need unlimited data on my phone and iPad. That cut saved me about $40. That could be groceries or something else. If you’re already pretty strict about your budget, you might have a leg up.

 

2. Feel the Feelings

After a quick little planning session, the reality usually hits me and I allow myself to feel it for a day. Sad, angry, confused, whatever…I give into the feeling for a limited amount of time. Holding it in will only manifest itself in some other way in my body. Best to get the bad energy out and let the Flossie energy in!

I limit the amount of time that I wallow because I know that the longer I stay in that state, the harder it will be to get out. For me, it’s like a sad magnet that wants to pull me deeper and deeper into the abyss.

I know my friends and family that are diagnosed with depression are not always able to just will themselves out of the sad feelings. I don’t want to diminish how difficult it may be for some of the Flossie Fam. If that rings true for you, talk to a professional and allow your friends and family to help you. Take your meds and drink your water. 

 

3. Reach Out to Your Network

I suck at networking. I love to help people that reach out to me, but I hate being the one that needs the help. Being unemployed really humbles me. “Being laid off is no indication of my worth or abilities. Say that to yourself in the mirror”, I say to myself. Then, reach out to the people in your network and let them know that you’re available for opportunities and invite them to send you any leads they may have.

Don’t vent to them about your current situation or badmouth the workplace or co-workers that you’re leaving. While gossiping might feel good at first, sharing negative stories about where you’ve been might affect the doors and windows that are open to you on your journey. Keep it cute!

 

4. Update Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile

If I were super conscientious, I’d update my resume every time I learned a new skill or accomplished a new feat. But, alas, ya girl lets the dust pile up on that resume until I need to send it to someone. If you’re like me, you’ve done some things and made some shit happen at your job. Update your resume with all of the new achievements. Depending on the kind of job you’re looking for, you might need to create a few different resumes that are tailored for each industry that you’re trying to get into or role to which you’re applying.

Also, take a look at your LinkedIn profile. Many recruiters and hiring managers will check your profile before contacting you or before having a call with you. In my last role, the hiring manager, consulted my LinkedIn profile immediately after our conversation. The profile was not as up-to-date and she spoke to my recruiter about the discrepancy.

Luckily, from our conversation it was clear to her that I was legit. But, I immediately synced my profile with my resume to avoid any confusion going forward. Speaking of legitimacy though, ask people in your network to write endorsements for you on your profile. These are especially valuable from people that you worked for or even people that worked for you. 

 

5. Find a Creative Outlet

The best way I’ve found to keep myself from crumbling when I’ve lost my job is to devote energy to a new project or creative pursuit. The last time I found myself suddenly unemployed, I thought I would die. Literally, I didn’t know how I would make it. I’d worked so hard. I know that I was a fucking rock star at that job. I knew that the ONLY reason I was let go is because I had ruffled the feathers of the mediocre ass white man that ran my department. After one meeting where I told the truth (professionally of course) he said, “She’s GOT to go!”

And, that, my friends, was that. God got me home that day. After about a week of going through the steps above, I realized that I needed to do something that affirmed that I was worthy and capable…that I was not a loser. Because even though I knew, deep down what it was, my ego took a huge hit with that one. There are few things in life as humbling as being fired and having to walk out of a packed office with your belongings in a box or trash bag. 

School is my happy place. So, I went back to school. It was bartender school and it was completely divergent from all of my prior experience, but I was excited. After that two week class, I felt myself coming back to myself. It was like being fired had turned me into a shell of my former self. Achieving something new started to increase the resolution on the image I had of myself and it felt good.

 

 

You’re Not Alone

The final message, I’d like to leave you with is that you’re not alone. I know it certainly feels like it when you’re going through this. But, this time, during this pandemic more of us are finding ourselves in this predicament. It’s not easy, especially if you’re the sole breadwinner of your family. Feel free to reach out, if you want to talk about it. We can get through this together. 

 

Sincerely,

Lynnell

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