Already, 2023 has been tough for tech workers. According to Layoffs.fyi, nearly 95,000 jobs have been cut since the beginning of the year. These mass layoffs impact the entire economy, but they can be downright devastating for those individuals affected personally.
If you’ve ever been laid off, you likely went through a diverse range of feelings, like shock and anxiety about the future. You may have become angry or felt shame as well. Some people experience a severe dip in their self-esteem as they question themselves and their worth. I’ve worked with many clients who were let go unexpectedly and needed help navigating the emotional terrain in front of them.
If you were a recent casualty of a layoff, it may seem best to start the job search immediately. But if you don’t take the time to deeply process your emotions, they could get in the way of bouncing back successfully. Here are some strategies to shift out of a negative mood state into a more positive one.
Work is a big part of our lives, so it’s natural to think a layoff is a reflection of your work. It can lead to a negative self-perception. Getting laid off can also lead to defeatist thoughts like, “Nothing can help me now.” So many people are blind to how they frame events and how deep the pattern can be. But this pessimistic view erodes resilience and could delay your capacity to jump back into the marketplace.
Think about the stories are you telling yourself. Do you find yourself thinking you’ll never find another job or make as much money as you did? Stop and ask yourself, “Is what I’m telling myself really true?” Talk with someone else who may have a different perspective on the situation so that they can help you see other, more helpful perspectives. Become aware of those thinking habits, and shift away from self-victimization. Remember that you are skilled, and you will make contributions to another company.
You couldn’t control getting fired, but you can control your job search strategy. Focus on what you want to achieve next. One exercise I give my clients is to write a list of everything they want in their ideal job, whether they think it’s possible or not. I’m not talking a top five list; it should be at least 20 bullet points long. Get very clear about what you’re looking for because this will help you be more strategic in the search process.
Next, give your résumé an update. Part art, part science, writing an effective résumé in today’s world of applicant tracking systems and bots goes well beyond just using proper grammar. If you’re unsure of how to craft an optimized résumé, consider looking up templates or consulting with a professional résumé writer. Finally, do some interview prep. Practice by preparing answers to questions and saying them out loud, or have someone help you conduct mock interviews. This will give you a boost of confidence before you even step into a hiring manager’s office.
When you’re experiencing a period of mental stress, be mindful of your physical health as well. For example, exercise provides bursts of positive hormones to counteract your anxiety and depression. So if you don’t currently have an exercise regimen, try one. It can be as simple as spending five minutes walking outdoors or engaging in another physical activity you enjoy.
Don’t forget the importance of sleep as well. Recently being laid off isn’t the time to binge-watch a show all night simply because you don’t have to get up early for work. Disrupting a regular sleep schedule can actually affect your mood negatively and create lethargy.
Don’t let the unexpected free time you have now go to waste. Find ways to be productive. For example, tackle a big house project you’ve been wanting to knock out like organizing your closets or rearranging the furniture. Having a tangible sense of progress and achievement will help boost your mood.
Don’t forget the value of leaning on the people in your life. They can help you see the positive perspectives that you’ve missed or simply be a way to vent. Beyond family and friends, seek out people in your network who are going through a similar situation so you can connect and share experiences.
There’s no avoiding the stress and anxiety that come with job loss, but by reframing your thoughts and taking time for self-care, you can successfully manage your heightened emotions. After that, there will be no stopping you when the next opportunity comes your way!