I’ve been laid off, and I’m here to assure you that it’s not the end of the world. Not even close. But first, let’s commiserate: For me, it happened six years ago, and I was 27. The magazine publisher I worked for was in a slump, there had already been three rounds of layoffs, and, every time, I worried the “last one in, first one out” rule was about to be applied to me. But I survived. My sales numbers were high, and the brass had recently announced that we’d finally seen the last of the layoffs — though not before they decreased our salaries and took away some vacation time. My coworkers and I gritted our teeth. At least we had a job.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I got the call from HR. In the same office where I’d been assured my job was secure, I was told that, due to another evaluation of the company’s financial circumstances, they had to lay off just a few more employees. And I was one of them. I sat in silence, stunned.
I took a deep breath and tried not to cry. I stood up. I marched with shaky legs back to my desk, and quickly put my things together. I said good-bye to the few people I could find scattered about the office, turned in my key card, and was escorted out of the building by an uncomfortable-looking assistant.
I can’t tell you how humiliating this was. Few things in my life are capable of making me feel the vast range of emotion I felt in the instant I learned I had been let go. The best comparison I can come up with is a breakup. But, as with a breakup, there are some time-tested ways to cope. Take it from someone who’s been there:
Never burn bridges.
When you get the news, you’ll probably feel like freaking out, but holding it together, as difficult as it is, will always prove to be the smarter move. Why? Well, my company offered me my job back six months later . That’s not necessarily the norm, but you will most likely need a reference for your next job, so if you up and start cursing out your former employers, you’re pretty much invalidating all the hard work you did for them. (Jerry McGuire is a great movie, though.)