Time mends all wounds and a year and four months after being laid off I can honestly tell say that it was the best bad thing that ever happened to me. It may seem counter intuitive but it makes perfect sense. A paid vacation that turned into many adventures and opportunities both in my career and in my personal life. Yes, I did take a paycut but I can always get a promotion or search LinkedIn at leisure. I learned to value my time, to enjoy being a master of my own universe; to save and use government programs for the unemployed wisely.
I wish though that my engineering union would have come up with a furlough scenario where we all kept out jobs but took a cut in pay. At first it would have sucked but knowing that all my peeps and their families had money and job security for a while longer would have made a difference. A day to spend at home to discover myself and explore my family and their personalities? Why not? We could all do cookouts and pot lucks to stretch our cash and feed those who really needed a hand. We’d all go through it together instead of me and my husband doing it all on our own.
A layoff comes with a lot of baggage because people assume that you had to suck to be at the bottom of the list but that is not always the case. Organizations can layoff workers to save money and to substitute them with cheaper labor, but even in a team of performers you have to have the least over achieving of them all. Don’t take it personally. At the beginning I thought I had done something wrong but I do not regret any of the things I did to preserve and foster a healthy work life balance. If I used to much vacation, so be it. If I took too much time off to help my family, they can keep the job I lost. It may have been my dream to be an engineer, and the diploma on the wall says I will always be one regardless of the title of my role: I am an engineer by calling, through and through.
People who get laid offs are not incompetent or bad employees, they are just the first to go. In many cases being part of the first wave was beneficial because the competition was non-existent and I had the market all to myself. It can work out even better if you volunteer to be let go as they throw extra incentives your way, especially if you are near retirement. (My company offered 2 weeks of pay per year of service up to 26 years. Some say the total is 26 weeks. Either way, free money!)
If you are not near retirement but wanted to look for a new job anyway now is the time to switch careers and/or companies. Many industries are looking for people that are not afraid to take on the roles of the aging boomers. (Sorry!) The cash out of a layoff can help you have a nest egg while you transition into a new future. If your company pays for your education while laid off, as long as you enroll before your last work day, you could take advantage of the free tuition. Bleed them dry before you exit, in an honorable and legal manner. 🙂
Get a hobby, start a band or place the first steps towards owning your own business. Study the needs of the markets in your area and solve a problem. Look for ways to invest and people who can help you during the transition. Make your own luck. Dream big or stay home. A layoff or a furlough is merely the beginning of something new, something exciting and full of success. Arm and ready yourself to win this battle and you will eventually win the war.
Remember that you are more than a career: You are a legacy. A pink slip and a warning note will not undo all your years of service and dedication to your craft. No one can take that experience away. Use it wisely. 😉
For more information on my layoff and layoff advice, visit the Layoff section of the blog.