Despite seeing it coming, despite being notified well in advance, I’m not going to lie, I took it pretty hard. I mean, I’d NEVER EVER lost a job in my life. Worse yet, I’d never tried harder at a job than I did at this one. Looking back, that might have been a sign. What do you mean? Well, today when I read job posts, as I’m scrolling through the qualifications I think, “Check, check, check.” Then I get to the experience section and it usually mandates anywhere from 5-12 years. Bottom line? With less than two years of experience, I was doing the work of a much more experienced attorney. Silver lining? There’s a good chance that my next job will seem like child’s play, and I’ll be a huge asset to my company at a cheaper price.
In the meantime…
Don’t beat yourself up over it. If you want, you can make a list of all the things you want to do differently at your next job, but second guessing yourself at things already passed serves no purpose.
File for unemployment. Honestly, I felt like a huge loser when I did this. I waited a few weeks, thinking I didn’t deserve it, but here’s the truth. I’d been consistently working since I was 18 years old. Not only that, but unemployment benefits were specifically designed for people like me – those in between jobs through no fault of their own. I considered not applying based on how paltry the payments were, but at the end of the day, those benefits cover my rent and most of my utilities. It makes a difference and prevents you from digging deeper into your savings. One more note? Although I occasionally feel guilty, I mostly think of the payments as money I set aside (since the age of 18) to the government for safe-keeping should a situation like this occur. There’s no way that I’ll take out more than I’ve put in over the last 18 years.
Give yourself time to heal/shake it off/etc. People everywhere will tell you that you immediately need to find another job. Gaps on your resume are BAD! I completely disagree. Think of it this way. If you recently broke up with someone you’d been with for three years would your friends say, “If you don’t get back out there as soon as possible, you’ll never date again?” No. Your friends would say to take your time and heal before you jump back into a new venture. Work is the same way. If you’ve been laid-off, it likely had semi-traumatic experiences surrounding it. Unless you’re without emotion, you likely won’t be playing you’re A-game for a little while. Work it out internally before you jump back into the work pool. When you do go back, you'll be ready to play.
Remember this is temporary. You WILL find another job at some point. In the meantime, enjoy your extended vacation. Do all of the things you didn’t have time to do when you were working. You’ll likely be working well past the age of sixty. This isn’t a time of crisis. It’s a gift. And PS – there’s nothing quite as fun as texting your other attorney friends on a Tuesday at 11 am to say, “I just crashed an apartment pool. Getting a great tan. Drinking a beer. How’s your day?” It’s temporary. Enjoy it while you can.