Let’s call a spade a spade.
The past few weeks months years have proven to be absolutely devastating for hundreds of thousands of employees in the tech space.
We hear you, we see you, and we want to help make this suck a little less.
The reality is, it’s hard to know where to start. I don’t know anyone who has the luxury of taking time to figure out which career path they want to explore next and to let things happen organically. For the vast majority of us, we need to act fast and build momentum. We can’t afford to waste time and we certainly can’t afford to make a wrong decision.
Let me share what I know from my own experiences to help you navigate this process.
From my coach to your ears
I can’t take all the credit. When I experienced a layoff myself, I was lucky enough to have a career coach literally coach me through it. This is someone I had a pre-existing relationship with, and without her I would have been lost.
I truly hope you realize that a layoff does not mean your career is over or that your opportunities are stifled.
The purpose of a coach in these kinds of scenarios is to help you nail down what you want as you gear up for your next opportunity… and I’m talking beyond how much your salary is.
It’s time to think critically about:
- Team structure & your place in it
- Growth opportunities – both vertically and horizontally
- Benefits & company policies
- Cross-functional and inter-departmental opportunities
I’ll walk you through four exercises to help you do it.
From unemployed to unstoppable: 4 exercises to relaunch your career
Exercise 1: Define your non-negotiables
The first exercise we did was: define 10 non-negotiables you need to be successful in your next role.
These can be things like your desired:
- Job title
- Parental leave length
- Team size
- In-office/remote options
Get yourself a journal or open up a blank document, and write them down. Hold yourself accountable to these things.
We need to be clear in our non-negotiables so that we can show up and be the best versions of ourselves in our future jobs.
When you’re applying for jobs or interviewing, you should be asking questions to the interviewer that allow you to understand exactly where the company stands on these non-negotiables. You wouldn’t buy a house without making a list of what you’re looking for, right?
A rule of thumb — don’t settle for fewer than 8 out of 10 non-negotiables in the next job you take.
Exercise 2: Make a 30-60-90 day plan
Next exercise is to write a 30-60-90 day plan for your unemployment.
Yep, you heard that right. 30-60-90s aren’t solely for onboarding! This plan will help you organize desired landmark goals and it will give you a visual for how you need to structure your days so that you don’t get swallowed up in job-board hell (it exists, I promise you).
I’d even suggest using this opportunity to write down a daily goal within your 30-60-90 framework. Perhaps it’s one new conversation per day, or applying to one new job per day.
Make sure this goal is quantifiable and achievable. It is paramount that this goal is designed to keep you accountable to the bigger picture.
Make sure you use the SMART goal framework, linked here.
You didn’t think we were done goal setting with a 30-60-90 framework, did you?
Exercise 3: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Next, it needs to be clear to you — and to anyone who is interviewing you — where you see yourself in 5 years.
Take this opportunity to clarify this vision. This might be the time where you pivot left… It may be the time where you feel even more confident in continuing the course you’ve set out for yourself.
There is no right or wrong answer here. What’s most important is that you’re aligning this next opportunity with your 5-year goal so that it acts as a launch pad.
Exercise 4: Visualize who you want to be
I have one final exercise to leave you with – bear with me on this one, it’s a little woo-woo – visualize who you want to be when you show up to interviews.
This is certainly more abstract than the rest, but I promise it comes with actionable takeaways. To begin, ask yourself, what role do you see yourself as within your next team? You may want to be the team leader, the devil’s advocate, the creative brain, the analyst, or something else entirely! Again, there are no wrong answers.
To provide context, when I was interviewing for this very role within the Sales Hacker team, I envisioned myself as “the connector.”
I am the person who connects others, connects ideas, connects teams, and connects companies. I truly wanted to embody the metaphorical bridge that bridges these gaps (my team has heard me use this metaphor ad nauseam… sorry y’all!).
In order to make that visualization come to life, I recorded myself talking through my resume and experiences, taking careful measures to emphasize the times when I’ve been that connector.
I felt most comfortable writing down talk tracks — simply a few bullet points — to provide myself with guardrails and a reference point on how I portray and structure my experiences.
Beyond these 4 exercises, I’ll leave you with a few last pieces of wisdom when navigating this next chapter.
Interviewers get it
As someone who has sat on either side of the interview table, I speak from experience that interviewers understand & express empathy with regards to layoffs. They know that layoffs are not a result of poor performance in any way.
I truly hope this helps you realize that a layoff does not mean your career is over or that your opportunities are stifled.
Be careful what you disclose — legally
As you prepare to meet new people and have new conversations, it’s hard to know just how detailed to get when it comes to updating your resume, interviewing and disclosing the terms of your layoff.
If you have signed any legal documentation regarding the terms of your unemployment, it’s best to consult outside counsel. Even a 1-hour legal session will pay off in troves to get clarity on what you can/cannot say. You truly never know whose hands your resume may fall into and it is always best to err on the side of caution.
Don’t be afraid to be honest
That said, I live by the rule of thumb that it does not pay off to shy away or avoid a situation. I believe it’s best to be honest with yourself in how you approach unemployment and it’s best to be honest (within the limits of any legal contracts signed!) with an interviewer or potential employer. Sweeping it under the rug isn’t the way to go.
I am hopeful that the variety of exercises and skills I learned from my career coach can be helpful to y’all — the Sales Hacker community. I know so many of you have been personally impacted in one way or another by this past round of layoffs and I am hopeful for each and every one of you.