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Most of us attach a great deal of self-worth into where we work and what title we hold. In social settings, I used to say, “Hello. My name is Libby and I work at The Coca-Cola Company.” I wore this like a badge of honor. During my years at Coke, I leveraged that corporate logo to meet new people, test my value on the open-career marketplace and develop my self-identity around all things Coke instead of who I was a person. You can imagine how lost I felt when Coke went through some downsizing and I was let go. I put so much of my own identity into the job I held that I totally lost my logo. I was fearful to step into a social situation because now I was simply Libby. Period. Full stop. Nothing more.
Growth comes from navigating difficult situations and this layoff was one of the most difficult things I have ever faced. Not only was losing a paycheck devastating, but the fact for me was that I lost my logo, my identity I aligned with when working at Coke. Looking back, this moment in time ended up being one of the best things that ever happened to me. Through it, I found myself and redefined my logo: brand Libby.
Being laid off isn’t all bad. Sometimes it’s the kick you need to point you in a new direction; it’s a reminder that your personal logo holds more value than any corporate logo ever should; and it’s also an exercise in resilience—there is indeed life after layoff.
Let your layoff liberate you.
When you’re laid off, feelings of fear, anger and resentment can quickly boil to the surface. Allow yourself time to sit on the couch and pout for a couple of days, but let it end there. You have been given a gift of change that has not been offered to everyone. Embrace it; take this time to really understand what energizes you and what gets you to your best.
Stop and really think about what you seek in a job and what really motivates you. Determine your hierarchy of needs, whether it be mission-based, financial, title or status, work-life balance, casual dress code or flexibility, a home-based office, etc. Rank these needs and be intentional about finding them in your next job, and have fun in the process. Drive down a street and visualize yourself working for that company, or that company, or that company.
Network, network, network.
List out 10 companies of which you have an interest in pursuing. Without fail, network to find people currently employed there and reach out for as many “informational interviews” as possible to weave yourself into the fabric of the company. Having inside ambassadors will serve you well for landing a job there. As you meet and talk to people, seek to understand about the company. Be yourself, have natural and engaging conversations, and allow others to talk about themselves. Bring down your guard as you are not interviewing for a job but are simply meeting people who work where you potentially have an interest in working.
Ask them questions like:
- What do you like best about working here?
- What is your greatest challenge?
- What is the culture like?
- How have you achieved the success that you have?
- What is your next career opportunity?
- What do you tell your neighbors about the type work you do?
When you ask someone to help you look for a job, while they have good intentions, they do not know specifically how to help you and often, unfortunately, are not aware of an open position. However, if you ask people whom they know that work at a company you have interest in pursuing, you will find a list of people to connect with for informational interviews. It is said that it is not who you know, but who knows you… and how better to know someone than to meet with them and be totally authentic without the pressure and nervousness of applying for a job. In due time, with enough networking, you will uncover your next career opportunity because someone will have a role that can only be filled by a person like you.
Get to know your personal logo.
You know yourself better than anyone else. In addition to your work experience, skills and talents, you have unique attributes. Genuinely display these attributes as leading indicators of who you are and stand true to yourself. You will land a job that is perfect because you were authentic—not the typical interviewee or candidate, but an intentional person.
Find life after layoff.
While the process of finding a new job can be daunting, there is wisdom to be gained. Every hardship can bring out the best or the worst in us—or a little bit of both. Knowing how you handle difficult situations can boost your ego and reinforce the strength you already have. You will see the support you get from family and friends and will also see those that are not really allies in tough times. Once the dust settles on your new work desk with your new opportunity discovered, at some point in time, it will be revealed as to why you went on this journey of losing your corporate logo.
Don’t take life so seriously.
When I tell people that I have been laid off three times in my career, they ask, “Isn’t that upsetting?” My light-hearted response? “Heck no, the severance packages are so lucrative that I am seriously considering a career in downsizing. The way I have it figured, I just need to be laid off two more times and I can retire.” Just like a corporate logo, don’t let a layoff define you. Take a breath, think about your passions and what really energizes you, and embrace a new journey.