Getting Laid Off (Can Be a Blessing)

You’re probably looking at this headline and saying, “Kris McPeak, you are nuts.  Getting laid off sucks.”

In this post, let’s change your perspective.  Time to discover the glass half full rather than half empty.  The silver lining.  The diamond in the rough.

Getting laid off can really be a blessing.

My first example is the most recent one.  I wasn’t EXACTLY laid off, but I was looking down the barrel of the Losing My Job gun if I didn’t find something else.  In that case, I would still have a job at that institution, just not in that department.  At the time, there was no way I was giving that supervisor the satisfaction of thinking that HE saved ME, even though he didn’t want me in my role any longer.

It’s confusing, I get it.  In this experience I realized the following:   (a) I was no longer a good fit for this position and this department; and (b) I was being given a chance to remove myself from a toxic situation and transition my career and life.

This was a blessing.

I have gone on and on….and I will continue to do so…about my level of happiness when it comes to my current day job.  I love my supervisor, the women with whom I engage daily, and the faculty and students I can impact.  It’s an effing beautiful thing.

I also go home at 4:30pm most days.  And work very few weekends.   No one calls me at 3pm with bad news.

I think I’ve been quite clear about this.

Now let’s go back about…holy crap….15 years!  My hubby and I had just moved to Phoenix and I could not get a job with the housing department at ASU to save my life.  I was plenty qualified, I just couldn’t get past any initial phone interviews.  I was working temp jobs in apartment leasing (which is just horrible, by the way) when I found an ad for an Apartment Manager at the new units being built at the West Campus of ASU.


I submitted my application and was thrilled when I got a call almost immediately to interview.

I should have known something was wrong when the manager wrote a number down on a piece of paper and slid it over to my side of the desk after talking to me for seven minutes.  Yes, that number was a salary recommendation, which of course I took because I was so fucking tired of apartment leasing.

Well – guess what this job turned out to be?
Yup.   Apartment leasing. 

Above all, with this property management company, it was my job to fill beds and supervise Resident Advisors.  However, there was no educational programming, no residence life program, and no community development.  Nothing in my strength set at all.

About four weeks into my employment, the manager announced my lay off.  The university was discontinuing their relationship with this property management company.  Meh, that’s okay.  I wasn’t having much fun anyway.  And I could always go back to apartment leasing.

The NEW property management company came in quickly, with only about four weeks to opening.  We needed to hire student staff and plan the opening weekend.  I knew the regional director from a previous institution, which proved to be initially great for me because they asked the University of they could retain me.

Sweet!  I still have a job.

The staff offices were ready by then, so I brought in all of my personal items for my office:  photos, plaques, diplomas, books, the whole nine yards.  I’m employed and set up in my office.  I had my “things about me.”

This felt good!  I was ready to go.  

Sadly, I didn’t impress my new employer with my need to set up house first, and they scolded me for not helping with the administrative work.  I apologized for this and asked for an updated task list so I could catch up.

That was too little, too late.  

After I hung my final frame on the wall, the new company informed me that they wanted to have a positively clean slate for the opening.  The manager handed me my final (only) paycheck and I packed up what was just unpacked.

I had finished setting up that space and recycled all my boxes.  This was seriously the most devastating thing ever.

With no real purpose, I basically threw all my stuff in my car.  Tears of anger were streaming down my face and I made no effort to hide my frustration with the management team.  They let me be snitty; after all, I was outta there.  They focused on their task, and that was opening an apartment complex in just about three weeks.

Seriously, can you appreciate now why I saved this Laid Off Story for the latter portion of the blog?

In my very youthful age of 35-ish, I really was acting like a baby.  However, now that I can look back on it all (I was actually able to look back on it all after about ten days), I see once again how this layoff was a blessing.

1.  I was not utilizing my skill sets in this position.  

2.  I would be unhappy and be looking for new work anyway.

3.  I would still have no on-site supervisor, so the options for professional development and mentoring were nil.

Consequently, I also had no immediate salary to lean on – and still no benefits – but I knew now even more so what I was seeking in a new job.  And I did eventually find it – at Arizona State, even.

A layoff doesn’t have to completely suck.

Of course, you CAN file for unemployment, and you CAN work for temporary agencies for both administrative and blue collar gigs, depending on your industry.  And while you’re on your hiatus from full time work, ask yourself these questions:

1.  Did I really love that job I just lost?  Can I think of five things right away that I am missing?

2.  Is this the field which I still wish to pursue?  Can I think of five reasons right away why I want to stay in it?

3.  Am I in a position to possibly change my industry or seek employment in a different field?  Can I think of five other jobs that I might enjoy?

4.  Who can I hang out with to talk about this stuff?  Who are five friends/family members who will hear me out and help me process though this.

This post-lay-off-self-exploration can be paramount to you achieving Career Bliss.  A lay off is not convenient. But it surely can be a blessing.  You just have to view it that way and then do something about it.

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