I started preparing for my layoff before my job ended (with apologies to my former employer, did you expect me to work that week?) I set up a new email address specifically for my job search, I updated my LinkedIn page, I sent out an email to all my professional contacts from the past few years to let them know I’d lost my job and would be looking for freelance opportunities. One response in particular — a man I’d interviewed several months earlier, who e-introduced me to two of his contacts as potential sources of freelance work — was an astonishing confidence-booster. I sailed on that wave right out the office door and into unemployment with a smile on my face.
(Actually, if your confidence is sagging I suggest getting laid off: If I believed half the flattering things people said about me that week and since, my ego would need its own room. Some of it was overblown, but even the stuff I took unsalted was gratifying. No one ever tells you how great you are when you’re working.)
In short, I did exactly what the experts tell you to do. I hit the ground running, I tapped my network, I searched in both the hidden and visible job markets. And now I’m tired of it. I want to do what some of my former colleagues did six weeks ago — take some time off to think about what I want (actually, one went on a previously planned junket to Australia the week after our layoff — that’s what I call hitting the unemployment line in style!). Events overtook me and I went with them — besides, I have such a security fetish that I couldn’t allow myself to navel-gaze. I forced myself to sit in front of the computer for very nearly a full working day almost every day, productively or not.
I just had a look through the notes I’ve been keeping about my layoff activity (some people keep datebooks, I keep a notebook). My first two weeks passed in a flurry of meetings and phone calls, and I sent out my resume a couple dozen times — applying for specific jobs and also to temp agencies I knew were looking for editors and writers. I slowed down a little in the third week, but still kept up the momentum, writing to people who didn’t have jobs per se but introducing myself in the hope of something in the future. I had one very promising conversation with a PR agency that looked like it would turn into very well-paying work. I had lunch with a former colleague to find out how she keeps her freelance business going.
But bad news about layoffs and cutbacks in Canadian media (Postmedia, CBC, CTV, The Globe and Mail — and I’m sure that’s not all, but at some point you stop counting because it hurts) weighed on my brain in the fourth week, part of the depression/anger stage of grief, I expect, adding to my frustration at not hearing back from people I’d expected to hear from — and at having watched the thing I’d been counting on to underpin my nascent freelance business crumble to dust as the employer set out financial terms that bore no resemblance to the carrot dangled in front of me to get me interested.
In the fifth week I got two job interviews, and spent the better part of the week doing research so as not to behave like a complete idiot in them. But now in the sixth week, I’m back at square five — having a vague idea of where I should go next, but having no real urge to go there, with a side helping of trying desperately not to be too cocky about one of the interviews last week. If I get that job, though… girl’s got plans.