I debated writing about this topic for a while. I had reservations on if it was too personal or unprofessional. But I remembered my goal for Black Coffee Creatives was to provide honest advice and insights to the industry for youngsters like myself. After weeks of personal torment here is my confession: I was laid off.
Out of respect to my former company and colleagues I’ll keep details minimal. And at this point the “why” isn’t as important as the “what’s next.”
When I lost my job in December, I wasn’t surprised. Our company was evolving and evolution requires uncomfortable change. Those changes were various roles across offices. Even though I’d noticed change happening, officially receiving the news is always hard.
As a young creative, it’s an experience I wasn’t expecting; especially so early in my career. I’ve glossed over AgencySpy enough to see that isn’t an uncommon incident. Layoffs happen—clients switch agencies, budgets change, companies downsize. For whatever the reason, it’s part of the business. But no matter which side of the table you sit, it isn’t a fun experience for anyone.
If you ever find yourself on the receiving end of this predicament, here are some lessons I’ve learned.
Don’t Take it Personally
Losing your job is a definite blow to your ego. I won’t lie. However, it is not a reflection of your work, talent or performance. As I mentioned before, it happens. You can either feel bad about it (which is a completely understandable and normal reaction) or you can use what you’ve learned from your previous employer and use it to propel you forward.
Which brings me to my next point…
Sharpen Your Skills
You will have free time. Maybe a few weeks. Maybe a few months. It’s easy to fall into a routine of lounging about watching bad daytime TV. Don’t forget to feed your brain. Do more of what inspires you. If you’re a designer, design. If you’re a writer, write. Go see speakers and participate in workshops. Read books. Start a new project. Keep up with the trades.
Advertising is a fast-moving business so you want to make sure you’re making the most of your time off.
Make a plan
If possible, have an exit strategy. Before I received my news, I’d initiated conversations with mentors on how to navigate this situation and began to make connections that has allowed me to freelance during this career transition.
If there was no time to plan and your layoff blindsided you, evaluate your skills. Update your resume and portfolio. Make a list of things you want in an agency and really be honest on what you’ll be able to bring to your dream job. And as always get your face out there and network.
Resist the Urge to Ball
I’d be doing a disservice if I didn’t bring up money. It will be tight. Knowing where you stand financially will give you less things to stress about when the first of the month rolls around.
Sometimes your friends will want to go out for drinks and you’ll have to decline. Assess your monthly budget and cut back where you can. Figure out how long you have to look for a job and make sure you give yourself ample time to find one.
Take Care of Yourself
The key to bouncing back mostly stems from your well-being. Don’t forget to eat, sleep, get some sunshine and surround yourself with good people. Staying positive about your future is vital for your creativity, job hunt and your mental health.
I’ve taken this whole layoff situation as a learning experience. Hopefully I’ve learned enough for a lifetime and won’t have to go through this again, but I can appreciate the time it gives to reflect on career needs and goals. This career hiccup isn’t the end-all, be-all. So if you find yourself in the same situation remember there will always be other jobs.