Earlier this year, I found out my job was being eliminated. Below are some funny anecdotes and lessons learned from that roller-coaster ride.
Earlier this year, I found out my position at work was being eliminated. I was pre-notified, which gave me a head start on a job search. Still, it was a a bit of a roller coaster ride while I continued to work, applying for different jobs both internally and externally, not knowing exactly how long I would be there, not wanting to make travel plans for summer, or plans of any kind, really. But, I have been through a layoff once before, and I was confident everything would work out OK.
The last time I changed jobs, Pumpkin was not quite 2 and I was so early on in Peanut’s pregnancy (like less than a week) that I didn’t know I was pregnant yet. So this time around, searching for a job in earnest – while still working and taking care of two kids during what is Mr. G’s busiest time of year at work – was definitely a different experience. And some amusing things happened.
The story Peanut will kill me for sharing
One day, I had a Skype interview planned over my lunch break, but Peanut came down with a tummy bug so I ended up taking a sick day. I put her down for a nap, and let her know that I would be in the office with the door locked while I had an important call and if she woke up to wait until I came out and not knock on the door. I put the dogs outside so if something got them barking, they couldn’t be heard all the way in the office. And I put in my headphones for the call. This ended up being a good move. About 20 minutes into the 30-minute call, I heard Peanut come out of her room. She never knocked on the door, but after a couple minutes she started calling for me. I am just smiling carrying on this interview as if everything is just fine, while she is getting louder and louder, crying and calling for me and I am panicking on the inside. As soon as we hung up, I ran out of the office to find her sitting on the toilet in her bathroom, waiting for me to come wipe her. It is hilarious to think about now, but in the moment I just felt awful and Peanut was so upset. But the woman interviewing me must not have caught on because she called me in for a second interview, although I didn’t end up getting that job.
Another morning as I was driving Pumpkin to school before I headed to a different interview, I asked her to help me prepare by asking what questions she would ask if she was hiring someone. She thought about it and asked:
- Where did you work before?
- How did you like it?
- What do you think about working here after working for (another company in the same industry)?
I was so impressed because, well, she’s 6 – and even the idea of a job interview was so new to her. I also didn’t end up getting that job, but I was a finalist.
Over the five years I was in my job, I had applied to other jobs occasionally, but they were few and far between, so it was easy to keep track of what I had applied for. But once I knew I needed to find another job, I was applying to many more at once. In hindsight, I wish I had done a few things differently.
Keep track. Once my position officially came to an end, I was placed into a career transition program where I would continue to be paid for a certain number of weeks, or until I got a new job, whichever came first. I was required to turn in a job search log each week during this period that listed all of my job search activities (applications, networking, interviewing, etc.) I wish I had started that log just for myself from the get go. Maybe not all of the activities, but definitely all the companies and job titles. I would also print out the descriptions for everything I had applied to. When applying for multiple jobs, it’s easy to lose track of the differences in the duties and responsibilities, and once you get called for an interview, the job is usually no longer posted.
Ask lots of questions. For one position, I had gone through three rounds of interviews and just knew when I didn’t get the offer that it was because they had expected me to ask more questions in that last round. The thing was, the hiring manager had been in all three interviews and I didn’t want to repeat questions I had previously asked her. But sure enough, that was the feedback she gave me. Later, in the first round of interviews for the position I ended up getting, the hiring manager specifically recommended that I ask my questions again if I came back for the next round. It would be good for the people in the next round, she told me, to know that I had thought of them.
Keep your head up. A former colleague told me when I started the process that it takes an average of three months to find a job, and that timeline held pretty true for me. I was a finalist for three or four positions before I got an offer, and applied to many more where I didn’t make it to (or past) the first interview. Each time I was a finalist and didn’t get an offer, it was defeating. But my husband reminded me that it just wasn’t meant to be. And he was right. I truly believe that I ended up where I was supposed to, and I’m happy with the way everything worked out.
Look on the bright side. When I first found out my position was being eliminated, I joked with my boss at the time that this would be the way I was going to get the maternity leave I never got four years ago. (Because I had been at my job just nine months when Peanut was born, I was only permitted six weeks off.) Well, it ended up that I had exactly six weeks off before starting my new job, and Peanut was home with me for three of those. I was able to have play dates with her, chaperone one of Pumpkin’s field trips, and work on some home projects and some blog projects. And while I truly enjoyed the extra time with them, it also helped me feel less guilty to be a working mom, because I realized how much my girls appreciate their routines, their friendships and their teachers.
I’m so lucky that while I was going through this whole process, I had a wonderful support team of friends and family and colleagues, past and present. It was a humbling experience for sure, but I am better for having gone through it.