It Happens On Fridays

It often happens on a Friday and almost half the time, you never saw it coming. It may be a phone call with a brief, carefully worded statement read and then the closing, “Do you have any questions?”  Many times, it’s a call to join your boss in a conference room and as you open the door, you see an HR representative there. You know instantly that it means you no longer have a job.

Your email has been locked, you’ve read the paperwork they place in front of you or promise to mail to you and you may have even been escorted by your boss to the elevator bank as she tells you she will be a reference and  that your belongings from your desk will be packed up and sent to your home.  After the kick in the gut, you’ll be tempted to day drink. Do that. Just wait until noon.

Before you pour, have a plan and go into action like one of those victims of a huge highway collision where some people are slightly injured but no one has died. Assess the site, inhale deeply and get to work. Your adrenaline and stress will last about four hours and you want to harness this. 

  1. Call your best friend or significant other. Saying it out loud helps and you need to feel as if someone is in your corner and your emotional cheerleader, and hopefully offer a few suggestions or introductions. 
  2. Go to LinkedIn but don’t update your profile. Identify at least 10 people who may work in your field, once worked with you, were maybe a trusted client.  Collect yourself and send a brief note asking if they may have time for a coffee or a call in the coming days or weeks. You may even tell a few that you have abruptly been relieved of your role, your team or division are gone and you’d love to pick their brain about industries and companies you should be considering for informational interviews. At least 20% of those LinkedIn or email messages will result in replies by end of day. You'll read  further suggestions and offers of introductions and because these lay-offs typically happen of Fridays, you can at least go into the weekend with a plan for the next Monday and beyond. Pat yourself on the back for being someone who never stopped networking even when she was gainfully employed.
  3. Next, check your finances and begin the process for enrolling for unemployment. This second part will take a few weeks and because you’ve been paying into the system, so don’t feel shame. Will your budget need an overhaul? Do you have enough in your savings account to cover your rent or mortgage for at least four months? Six months? Will you be receiving any severance? Make a brief list of the items you can go without for at least a month-the blowouts, maybe a few boutique workouts, no more Sephora mascara but instead, the always reliable $12 L’oreal stuff at CVS. You are a resourceful woman, you just need to be mindful of how things look and this will also help you restore some of the control you feel you lost the moment the news was shared with you.
  4. Text your friends and family.  You'll need emotional cheerleaders, people who will offer to take you to dinner, and the more varied the careers and experience or even geographies of your friends, the wider your network of possibilities for your professional future.

Then you can day drink. Maybe stop at 5 pm wash your face and then go for a long walk, breathe in deeply, be in nature if you can, don’t let this bad news define your entire day.  Think about a healthy dinner you want to make or that a friend or loved one will treat you to later that evening. The crying will hit right about.....NOW.  Anger joins the party and some heaving sobs and maybe some good old fashioned shouting will round out your day. 

 Think about a trip you’ve always wanted to take, changes you want to make in your personal life—you are free to do with your days what you want to do now. Museums in your city you’ve never visited? Books you’ve not been reading due to time constraints? Put them on the list. Get a library card the next week, follow some excellent cooks on Instagram and get excited about making fresh new recipes because you now have the time.

We’ll write more installments on the next steps for finding the job you want, the salary you deserve and the benefits you’ll need to have as ‘must haves’ but for now, know this:

You are not alone. You are, in fact, in good company. This is not terminal and you will be shocked at how well this next phase of your professional life goes. Lastly, yes, you will be one of those women who is grateful it happened.  Like any break up, you’ll slowly begin to see how toxic the environment was and you deserve to work where your talents are celebrated and your contribution makes a difference.  Oh, and lastly, most senior titles are held by women who have lost a job. It’s the rule of the road.