This year was the first time I was ever laid off from a company, and I figured I’d share my lessons learned from the experience. Maybe you’ll find them helpful if you ever find yourself in a similar situation or if you’re going through the same thing at the moment.
Lessons I learned from getting laid off from my Senior Software Engineering role:
- Instead of diving into job hunting immediately, take some time to rest beforehand. I dove into job hunting immediately, although I was still feeling devastated from being laid off from a company that had been a dream job for me. I was processing my grief over losing a job while also feeling extremely exhausted from staying up late studying for technicals and waking up early for my scheduled interviews. This made it difficult to perform at my best during those interviews.
- Don’t apply to too many places at once. Right after getting laid off, I panic-applied to a lot of companies. As a result, I had several companies responding to me at the same time to set up interviews. My calendar was crammed with interviews – recruiter calls, technicals, and take home assessments. I ended up feeling extremely overwhelmed and was spread too thin, and ultimately bombed too many interviews because I overextended myself. If I could go back and do things differently, I would have been more selective at the beginning of my job hunt. That way I wouldn’t have been so exhausted in the beginning.
- Filter the unsolicited advice you’re getting from others and focus on what makes sense for you and your situation. I had a lot of friends/family give me their take on how I should approach the job hunting process. At first, I was trying to listen to too many people at once, and as a result, I was not only overwhelmed from everything that was going on in my life, but I was also overwhelmed from all the advice I was getting. What works for one person may not work for you, and that’s totally okay. Do what makes sense for you and makes the job hunting process manageable for you. For me, this meant cutting back on the interviews I was scheduling each week. I know that people mean well when they give you unsolicited advice, but no one truly knows what you’re going through better than you do, and ultimately you know better about what works for you.
- Prioritize your mental health. Losing my source of income and my health insurance, processing the emotions from getting laid off, as well as dealing with the rejection that comes with the job hunting process, took a toll on my mental health. At first I was interviewing too much and not giving myself enough space to continue to pursue my hobbies or doing things that make me happy. Later, I realized I had to cut back on interviews so I could protect my happiness and mental health, and make time to do things that would bring me joy during this difficult time.
- Have a strategic approach for the companies/roles that you apply to. At first, I didn’t have a strategy other than to apply to any role that fit my skill set at companies I was familiar with/really liked. Later, I realized the interview process was very important to me since I’m primarily self-taught, and live coding/whiteboarding interviews have always been tough for me. I ended up applying to companies that had tech screens that catered to my strengths while spending some of my free time working on LeetCode problems and studying CS so that I could move back to live coding/whiteboarding interviews in the future.
- You can negotiate your severance. I had no idea you could negotiate your severance, so I just signed off on what was offered to me. If I could go back, I would have tried to negotiate, although the layoff my company did was one where there probably wasn’t much room for negotiation since so many people were laid off.
- Listen to your gut. When you no longer have a job, it’s easy to feel desperate and feel like you should accept the first offer you get. If you’re financially able to hold off on doing that, I’d recommend waiting until you get an offer that excites you. I had a couple potential offers in the beginning of my search, but I wasn’t excited about them at all. And I think that’s definitely a red flag – you don’t want to start working for a company if off the bat you have some resentment about the offer.
- Network and use social media to your advantage. I was able to get a lot of leads on possible job opportunities by reaching out to people who used to work at my previous companies. I was also getting a lot of help from strangers reaching out to me when I posted about getting laid off on LinkedIn.
Hopefully this is helpful for anyone else going through something similar. If you recently found a new job, congrats! If you’re still on the search for something new, good luck and hang in there!