Career What I’m Up To

Laid off in 2024, part 3: How are you doing?

Comic featuring Elmo hugging the “This is Fine” dog.

A recent Tweet (or X-crement, or whatever they’re calling posts on that platform) from Sesame Street’s Elmo got way more attention than it would have in less stressful times:

It’s not every day that a social media post from a cutesy character from a children’s show sparks a discussion on mental health, but these are the times we live in.

And I “get” it — as I write this, it’s been only a week since I and 400 co-workers were laid off, and I’m still feeling a lingering apprehension. As I’ve written before, this is my fifth layoff, so while the experience is unsettling, I at least have come up with ways to deal with it. I’ve talked with people facing this for the first time, and they’re stunned by the combination of feelings that come with it: shock, sadness, anxiety, fear, and probably worst of all, betrayal.

If you’ve been laid off…

There’s a thing called the Life Events Inventory (LEI), which is a ranked list of stressful life moments devised by the research psychologists Raymond Cochrane and Alex Robertson in a paper they published in the early 1970s. An updated version of the LEI is still used today.

Losing your job is the 7th most stressful item on the LEI. To get a sense of just how stressful it is, it ranks higher than finding out your partner cheated on you (14), a close friend dying (13), an immediate family member going to jail (11), and even divorce (9, but I would disagree, as mine damn near killed me).

Let me drive home the point by listing the LEI top ten:

  1. Death of spouse
  2. Jail sentence
  3. Death of immediate family member
  4. Immediate family member attempts suicide
  5. Getting into debt beyond means of repayment
  6. Period of homelessness (hostel or sleeping rough)
  7. Unemployment (of head of household)
  8. Immediate family member seriously ill
  9. Divorce
  10. Break-up of family

The other thing you should know is that the effects of a layoff linger. Here’s the key paragraph from a 2013 Wall Street Journal article titled After Divorce or Job Loss Comes the Good Identity Crisis (with added emphasis from me):

Experts say most people should give themselves a good two years to recover from an emotional trauma such as a breakup or the loss of a job. And if you were blindsided by the event—your spouse left abruptly, you were fired unexpectedly—it could take longer.

A layoff isn’t something that you can easily shrug off, and you shouldn’t feel shame for feeling the way you do. You need to acknowledge that being laid off is one of modern life’s most stressful situations, and then do the things to help you deal with that stress.

If you haven’t been laid off…

If you haven’t been laid off, but you know someone who’s been laid off, please reach out to them and ask how they’re doing. If you’re in a position to offer help, do so, but even the act of checking in is a great help.

I’ll close with the advice of Florida’s own “Tommy the Tech Recruiter,” who posted this excellent suggestion on LinkedIn:

If you know someone who is on the job search…

No, no they’re not okay. Especially in these times. They are tired. Exhausted. Frustrated. Scared.

Each passing day brings a rollercoaster of emotions.
Each rejection or time they never hear anything back leaves them questioning or doubting themselves.

It’s a soul crushing process.

If you are on a job search… I am here for you and making it my mission to help shorten how long that search takes.

And if you see someone who was just laid off or has that green banner, comment on their posts for visibility. Share it. Leave a kind and uplifting comment or send them a DM of support.

We can help each other through this.

Also in this series…

2 replies on “Laid off in 2024, part 3: How are you doing?”

I’m so sorry this happened to you. I’m sure it won’t take you long to get to your next roll and they will be a far better company for having you. Good luck!

Joey, you have such a good attitude. I have a friend that was laid off a few months ago and this is a great reminder to check in on him again.
Good luck.

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