How Being Laid Off Became One of the Best Things to Happen to Me.
Don’t Get Too Comfortable in Life Because You Never Know what’s Right Around the Corner.
At the end of 2017, the ‘company’ for which I worked let me go. I was laid off. I gave 12 years to that ‘company’. And then it was over. They closed our facility. Others who were laid off as a result of the plant closing gave more years than me. Some gave many more . . . 25, 30, 35 years of their life discarded by the ‘company’. As if they were just insignificant “resources”.
It’s now 2019. It’s been a little over a year since I was let go. I can’t speak for the others who lost their jobs, but for me, it was one of the best things to happen to me. Now at the time it certainly didn’t seem that way. I didn’t know what the future would bring, and there is always some anxiety when you’re not sure if you’ll be able to provide for yourself and your family. Read on to find out what happened.
The Initial Event and My Plan.
Let me set the stage a little bit for what I was facing. My job was eliminated in May of 2016. They announced the layoffs on my wife’s birthday. What a memorable day . . . There were some of us who would be retained for a time in order to facilitate the transition and train the people who were taking our jobs. Much of what I’m describing is nothing new, and I’m sure it happens all the time in corporate America. But when it actually happens to you, it gets real . . . fast. It’s no longer just on the news. It’s on your doorstep.
I was already dealing with all of the financial emergencies that hit our house, and now my income was in jeopardy as well.
By God’s grace, I was one of the ones who was offered a retention package to stay . . . . until the end of 2017. If you’re keeping track of the dates, that meant that I would have to stay on for a total of 19 months more! Not having much else to lose, I agreed.
My plan was to look for another job while I was still on retention. And if a good opportunity came up, I would leave, and forgo the retention package in favor of a stable job. The good news was that I still had time.
Initially I was hoping to transfer to a different department within the company. But in November of 2016, the announcement came down that the entire facility would be shuttered. Whether that was the ‘company’s’ plan all along, or it just happened that way, the rest of the people at the facility were now in a similar situation as my department.
Things initially stayed the same. Work continued . . . for a while. Until five members of my 20 person department walked out and joined a small startup company that had been in business for only a year and half. This made the transfer of work instantly more difficult as all that knowledge had intentionally vanished. Things were unraveling faster than the ‘company’ had planned. A few months later, layoffs reduced our department by half.
Playing the Waiting Game.
My plan had to change. No longer could I stay at the facility and transfer. I had to find a job at another company. But in order to make things work financially, I wanted to stay until I received the retention package. But that meant working another year, training those who would take my job.
This was the longest year of my life. Seeing how upper management continued to run the company into the ground, and ineptness of those overseeing the transfer was frustrating to say the least.
Patience, patience, I kept telling myself. This will work out. The retention is still on the table, and I can find another suitable job. All the while I continued to look for that other job.
Just a side note about working under these circumstances: Having to go into work for a company that just pulled the rug out from under you is hard. There’s very little motivation to work hard other than your own personal integrity and honor. It took all I had some days to get up in the morning and go into work.
Throughout the summer of 2017, I sent my resume and applied for jobs at quite a few different places. I interviewed once in person, and twice on the phone. Nothing came of them. And my time was almost up.
Finding the Silver Lining.
Towards the end of 2017, I decided to send an application to the startup company that had already hired 20 or so former colleagues of mine over the last year. I received an interview, and offered a job within the week. It really was that fast!!
It was a breath of fresh air walking into that office for my interview, and seeing people I knew doing the same work they did before, and yet they were happy. The whole atmosphere was one of optimism and expectation.
I worked out the remainder of my retention at the ‘company’, and then started my new job a week later. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. God had provided . . . and then some.
I was able to use the retention package and start my new job. The retention become a “signing bonus”, as I moved on to the next step in my career.
I know things don’t always work out that way, but for me, it was an answer to prayer.
I probably would not have ever left that job if I wasn’t forced out. I was too comfortable and I felt safe. Forced to find another job, a drive was created in me to do better financially and professionally. Just in case something like this ever happened again.
My new job is better. I have more autonomy, and the benefits/compensation are better too!! Maybe it’s just because of what I went through to get it, but I no longer take my job for granted. Job security is an illusion, and if you have a good job, don’t be too comfortable. Be grateful for what you have, and continue to grow in your career and life in general.Job security is an illusion. If you have a good job, don't get too comfortable. Click To Tweet
As they say, “when life gives you lemons . . . “. Making the best of a bad situation is certainly easier to say than to do. But if you get laid off, try to look at it as an opportunity to do something better. I know it’s hard to change your attitude when things like that happen. It can be easy to mope and complain that life isn’t fair, and this always happens to me. That was me initially, and at many other moments throughout that time.
But that attitude can’t help you out of your situation. You need to first stop and take a snapshot of your financial and career situation. What needs to be done right now? What can you cut right now? And what kinds of things could you possibly do without? There are a million things going through your mind, but keeping a calm head is important.
Know that you don’t have to do anything right away. Take your time and formulate a plan. Take advantage of the new opportunity to move on to something else, something better.
Life doesn’t have to be one downer after another. It can be a set of stepping stones. Each event moving you on to another better opportunity. It all depends on your mindset.
Have you ever been laid off? How did you respond, and did it work out for you?
Tell me about in the comments below, and thanks for reading and sharing.