4 Lessons You Learn When You’re Unemployed

Published April 2017

It’s been about 7 weeks since I was laid off from my job. I loved the work I was doing – building and collaborating at a startup digital media company while learning every step of the way. It’s been a true test of my confidence, as well as my love for my career in the media industry. I never thought I’d ever be laid off in my 20’s, and here I am job searching again at 26.

I’m hopeful and positive about where I’ll end up next, but I’m still waiting for a full-time offer. So in the meantime, I only hope to learn as many lessons as I can during this time of my life and maybe even help others who go through a similar experience get through it, too.

1. Always be prepared.

I never thought I would be laid off from my job. I worked very hard to exceed expectations and go above and beyond in everything I did, from being early for all meetings to never missing an email. I was completely blindsided by the notice that Feb. 1 would be my last day, and I was devastated. However, looking back at it all, I should have been prepared for anything at a moment’s notice. The media industry is constantly changing, and no one’s job is secure or guaranteed. I should have been prepared with an updated resume, plan in place for what I would want to do next if I was to look for a position and more. I wasn’t prepared because I thought I was safe, but now I know better.

2. Don’t burn bridges.

I’ve always believed in this, but it’s amazing how the support of people in your past and present can come through when you need it most. When I lost my job, I found people in my life were willing to truly help me. I think it’s because I tried very hard to never burn bridges. Everyone in your network and extended network are there to support you and you need to show support right back. It may be the help you need to land your next gig in the industry.

3. You can’t be too proud to ask for help.

I’ve always been someone who has had trouble asking for help. I like to work hard for what I want and need in life. So when I lost my job unexpectedly, I didn’t know what to do and I needed help. The first thing I did was tell my network on social media. I wrote a respectful message about how I was no longer at my employer and that I have nothing but good things to say about the experience, and I wish them all the best. I ended the message with the note that I am now looking for my next step in my career, and the support and help I received was overwhelming. I didn’t want to take it, and it’s still hard for me to lean on friends and family during this time more than ever before, but I know I would do the same for them and so I can’t be too proud.

4. Your career matters, but so does the rest of your life.

During the last few weeks, I’ve really missed having a purpose for my career every day. However, I’ve had time to really work on other areas of my life that I might have let slip a little while being so career-oriented. I feel like my relationship with my boyfriend has gotten a lot stronger. I’ve also been able to work out more, which I’ve really missed (I was always an athlete growing up). Plus, this is my last year of grad school and I have a thesis study to complete between now and November, so having time to work on that has been a relief. I love my career, but my relationship, my health and my Master’s degree are also very important to me and I want to succeed all of these areas and not just one.

— Hilarey Wojtowicz