If you’re laid off
Advice I wish I had when I lost my job
There are tons of nice advice on social media targeting those who have lost their job. I won’t repeat them.
Instead, I'll write what I would need to read in this situation because I have been betrayed by companies before and it took me too long to recover.
Looking back, I wish I had read a frank post like this (I'll keep it in archive for myself at least).
You're entitled to feel sad, hurt, betrayed, rejected, worthless, or something else! Go through the emotions and process the feelings but know that the faster you get up after a fall, the faster you grow. Toddlers are great teachers. Or as the Japanese proverb says:
Your mind wants to understand who did this to you. It’s not personal. It’s systemic (more on that when analyzing Spotify’s example). Companies are legal entities driven by profit. Good or bad, this is the state of the world. You can fight it or adapt to it but never fall into the trap of expecting a legal entity to behave like a person with a soul. That illusion will hurt you. Yes, your colleagues are human all the way to the CEO (hopefully 😉), but even the CEO is not immune to the wrath of legal entities.
Many companies live longer than the employment contracts of any individual employee. Sure, we can vote with our wallets and boycott companies, but the fact is that money and ethics are not tightly coupled. We wish they were, and you’re welcome to spend your life changing “the system” but as a backup plan, it doesn’t hurt to understand the forces at play and be prepared. You have one life after all.
Having a job today is absolutely not a guarantee to have a job tomorrow. And I say it as a citizen of one of the world’s richest countries with tons of safety nets, unions, and worker protection laws 🇸🇪. Due to superpower clashes, war, economic turmoil and AI, many industries are shaking. You’re just experiencing an early wave of change, but there is more where this came from. In a follow up post, I’ll talk about different techniques to build resilience and lower the risk at the individual level.
If you're unemployed, you have a full-time job to reskill and catch up with what you missed while you were employed. Learn about LLMs, adopt AI to your workflows, pick up new books, take online courses, go to meetups and network ... Do everything that an employed person can't do because now is the best time to "sharpen the axe".
Read through job ads and see what self-training is required and where you should network. Focus on the intersection between what's hot in the market and what you're interested in doing. But don’t draw the bar too high. At the moment, the market is saturated and in flux. The first priority is to get a job and grow.
Some of you will go to find a new job. Some of you will go on to become entrepreneurs, content creators, solopreneurs, etc. But promise that no matter what you do, you'll never treat people like extra rows on a spreadsheet. When money is involved, it's harder than you think. But please try. It hurts.
It is that dark time of the year, please keep warm, listen to good music, play games, and keep yourself busy to prevent this from escalating into something bigger. You got this.
Take advantage of this opportunity and years from now you'll look back with a smile and see the blessing.
Update 2024-01-14: Steve Huynh from A Life Engineered just released a great video on the topic.