First Time Lay off--Now what?
May 11, 2008 4:32 PM   Subscribe

Laid Off. First timer. How do I get over my wounded pride and get together some world-class work samples ASAP?

I was just laid off for a position I just landed in a new industry I'd like to continue in. Normally I am quite the cocky fellow. But i was seduced out of another job with the promise of something long term with room to grow, blah blah blah, and feel really devastated. I was not the only layoff by a lot and I know business decisions aren't personal. But the fact remains that I am a total mess with inadequate savings and not quite enough experience to separate me from the recent college grads.

I need to pull out of this now and get some work samples together. Everything good I've ever touched is owned by someone else and I didn't have the foresight to back up my files before getting the ax. I also worked a lot of unpaid OT (never again) so my personal projects have been floundering. Please, any advice or reassurance would be greatly appreciated (you can reach me at if you have a job lead and think you know what city i'm in.)
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have a friend who still works with the company and would be able to access your e-files for you?

What type of a job was it that you lost? What type of work samples are we talking about here?
posted by HotPatatta at 4:40 PM on May 11, 2008

Go get an evening & weekend job, if it fits with an employment insurance you may be receiving, depending on your country/state/etc. Find something in retail, where you can get a discount on stuff you usually buy anyway, for example. Use this as a cushion while you look for a daytime job. You can quit when you get a more career-oriented job. In the meantime, this will help you pay your bills, avoid debt and possibly build an emergency fund.

I don't know what industry you are in. But your NDA may prohibit you from sharing work samples anyway. You may need to use previous examples and talk a lot about your accomplishments.

Are you in design or something like that? It's hard to tell from your post, so perhaps you could give us an idea, so that we can suggest other ways to build up a portfolio, for example.
posted by acoutu at 4:40 PM on May 11, 2008

Moreover, you don't own the copyright or right to distribute anything you do at work (as it is work done for hire), regardless of any NDA agreed to. I'd immediately reject any candidate for employment who violated that factor.
posted by saeculorum at 5:02 PM on May 11, 2008

first off, I'm sorry to hear you have to go through this. it happens to the vast majority of us once or twice in their lifes though, so don't think you are an anomaly because of it. also get serious about backing up your work. a usb stick you take home at the end of every day, an ipod that doubles as your secret external hard drive, those kind o things should be on your never-without list from here.

it's tough to make precise predictions about what you need to do without any kind of hint at the kind of carreer path or position you lost or are pursuing, so I'll skip that. do continue getting out of bed at your usual time though. sit down, make a list of what you need to achieve every day. keep it small, keep it doable. don't get into the getting up at noon rut, time runs away quickly and before you know it you've wasted a month. start talking to people. this is the time to network, both with previous coworkers and college people as well as professional networks and friends. let people know you are looking for opportunities, see if anyone knows of anything. this is not the time to be too proud to ask. take the "hey, do you know anyone/anything" route and don't ask them directly if they have a job for you, that will only make them dodge your calls in the future (because if they had something and they knew of your situation, they'd mention it).

what are other people in your industry doing? is this something where you could establish some name recognition for yourself by building a website and starting a blog (people like russel davies come to mind)?

also get in touch with one good friend who is in somewhat of the same position as you are, not in terms of being unemployed but in their career. let them critique your work, let them help you figure out how to be more competitive. don't live in that bubble where you never get any feedback on your work until you sit in an interview. you want to anticipate negative feedback before that point and a buddy will be able to say "hey, kill this, reshuffle that" in a way you will not be able to see. work we spend a lot of time on can easily become like a baby to us.

if you want anything more precise, clarify what you do and your situation.
posted by krautland at 5:19 PM on May 11, 2008

Also, since you're new, you don't even have to consider the layoff a reflection on your work. You just started, so it probably seemed more fair and less socially disruptive to let you go.
posted by salvia at 6:10 PM on May 11, 2008

if you have a job lead and think you know what city i'm in....

Um, is this a puzzle? Do we get clues?
posted by rokusan at 6:12 PM on May 11, 2008

I have held 2 full-time jobs so far and been laid off from both, despite doing (in my opinion) excellent work (one laid off almost everyone in the dot-com crash, the other relocated the position cross-country after promising they wouldnt in the interview). I may well be laid off from my current job tomorrow, no exaggeration.

It sucks. The thing to remember is, employment is "at will." They can, and will, let you go for any reason: can't afford your salary anymore, personal dislike, whatever. I have tried to come to terms with the fact that the quality of my work has absolutely zero bearing on if I can keep my job. I am employed at the whim of the people who run the company, simple as that. I realize this sounds cynical but it also factual. And it helps me not lose confidence in my work based on whether on not I happen to have a job at the time.

I would agree with trying to contact a friend to get the samples. Pay absolutely no attention to any NDAs or crap like that you may have signed. I don't think they are going to bust you for showing your work privately to prospective employers. You might want to refrain from putting it publicly on the web though.
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:37 PM on May 11, 2008

This comment got deleted once. (??) But I was serious. The OP requested help to "get over [his/her] wounded pride" and said "any advice or reassurance would be greatly appreciated." So, here is my reassurance, designed to soothe wounded pride: some are saying one out of five people on Wall Street are going to lose their jobs. Twenty percent, and thousands of people. The OP can take comfort -- reassurance even -- in the fact that this same event is happening to thousands of people. It's not anything shameful; it's nearly mundane. Furthermore, it illustrates that the economy is on a downturn and that many are losing their jobs for reasons largely unrelated to their personal talents. No need for his or her pride to take a hit.
posted by salvia at 8:35 PM on May 11, 2008

Given that you've provided us virtually no hint as to the industry or geographic area you work in, I don't have much in the way of portfolio-building advice for you, but if you are in the United States and were genuinely laid off rather than fired for misconduct, you absolutely need to apply for unemployment insurance benefits. Your state's department of labor will have more information for you on the process, but it's generally pretty simple, and not something you should be worried about or ashamed to do.

Unemployment insurance benefits are not welfare. They are something you have (indirectly) paid for already, since your prior employers have paid the premiums, and factored in the cost of those premiums when they decided how much to pay you. Apply for the benefits. Depending on how much you were making, and the state you live in, you could receive as much as $400/week or more for up to 26 weeks.

One final note: sometimes employers tell laid-off employees they are not eligible for unemployment benefits. Often (not always, but often), when they do this, they are lying so that their unemployment insurance premiums don't go up.

Do not, and I can't emphasize this enough, DO NOT TAKE YOUR FORMER EMPLOYER'S WORD FOR ANYTHING WHEN IT COMES TO UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS. Educate yourself at your state Department of Labor's website (google it) and apply for benefits, even if you're not sure whether you're eligible. They'll tell you if you're not, and give you money if you are.

Best of luck, and feel free to email me (in profile) if you think I might be able to be of any additional assistance. I have been laid off three times in different states in different industries, and I'd like to think this experience could benefit somebody.
posted by dersins at 12:19 AM on May 12, 2008

Relax. This is only your first time being laid-off. The major plus for you is that you are young. To most employers, this means you can be had for cheap.

The real feelings of anxiety, powerlessness, and uselessness don't come until your third (or so) layoff...when you're in your mid-to-late 40's or even 50's. Then your age and everything you've built around you (like a family and the attendant expenses) really works against you in the marketplace.

How did you land the job in the first place? I'm assuming you didn't have a portfolio of work samples then, since you make it sound like this was your first job out of school. Just hit the streets with that fresh-out-of-school fervor. Once you land an interview, you will have that real-world job experience to lean on. It will make you sound far more polished/experienced than the actual kids right out of school.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:22 AM on May 12, 2008

« Older Twin Cities Tailor?   |   Need to 'vertically condense' truetype font rows... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.