My Time Has Come: Facing A Layoff – Lost, Scared & Self-pity

On October 15, 2018, I wrote:

“I am sure I will be in his shoe at one point in my career, and I will need his support as much as he needs mine at the moment.”

I was talking about Mr. FAF’s fear of getting laid off when his boss asked him to find a new team at his company.

At that time, I felt pretty secure at my job.

Sure, my job doesn’t pay six figures, but it’s in line with my passion and offers great benefits such as healthcare with a $0 deductible.

I knew that at one point I’d probably face a potential layoff like Mr. FAF, but I didn’t think it would come so soon.

In fact, that fear surfaced in less than two months in early December 2018.

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A fateful day

On a day like any other day in early December 2018, my boss called a sudden and brief meeting to announce that he was leaving his position.

It was a shock to me and everyone else. I suddenly felt like I had been pushed off a ship at sea.

“What would happen to the group (created by my boss when he joined the company)?” “What would happen to me and my job?” ” How much longer do I have before getting laid off?” Those questions were swirling in my head, but I tried to stay calm.

My boss at the time seemed to have guessed how everyone would react and said he didn’t know what would happen next.

I was scared. I went back to my desk and told Mr. FAF what had happened. Both of us freaked out.

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Trying to find the answers

In the next days and weeks, I tried to talk to as many people as I could at the organization and even the CEO to find out what would happen to my group and my position in particular.

I was told that I’d still have my job in the short term (maybe three to six months), but they weren’t sure about the long term.

I went home feeling so lost. What should I do next? Should I start applying for a new position? Should I try harder to prove my value to my employer? Should I go back to school if I can’t find a job?

What complicates the whole situation is that I am in the US on a work visa (H1B). That basically means that I’m tied to my employer, and it’s hard for me to just switch to a new job like American citizens.

I just had my baby four months prior to that incident. While the thought of being able to be a stay-at-home mom was an option, that thought didn’t make me happy.

I want to have a career. I want to be a working mom. I know everyone is different. But that’s my choice, and that’s what makes me happy. Why can’t women have both a career and a happy family? They shouldn’t be forced to choose either one. And I shouldn’t be either.

An attempt at an internal position

At about the same time, a position was opening up in another group at my organization. That position, however, required extensive international travel (2-3 weeks at a time and multiple times a year, sometimes on short notice).

Although I was interested in moving up the career ladder, the idea of extensive travel and leaving my newborn and a toddler at home with the husband didn’t appeal to me.

Yet, I felt like I had no choice and decided to apply for it. What followed was weeks of waiting, interviewing and tests. I was consumed by the whole process, constantly checking my work email for updates and chatting with the HR person in charge of the applications to gauge what was going on.

I ended up not getting the job for lack of project management skills. Though disappointed, I was relieved about not having to travel outside of the US and leaving my kids at home.

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What’s next?

The next question, however, was what should I do next? I decided to broaden my scope and started applying for external jobs, knowing that it’d be really hard for me to find an employer who would be willing to sponsor my work visa.

During that process, I looked at hundreds of job postings and applied for dozens of them. At first, I got lots of interviews, but none of them worked out for various reasons.

It was also during that process that I realized that none of the jobs I applied for really appealed to me. Those were the jobs that fit my resume and needed my skills. But I wanted something different, not more of the same things I’ve been doing over the past four years.

I started looking at job postings with different titles and was interested in the Business Analyst position. Yet, most if not all of those postings required one or two skills that I didn’t have.

I didn’t have the qualifications they were asking for. I applied for those positions anyway and didn’t get any response. I wasn’t good enough for what I wanted to do. I felt like a total failure.

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Feeling lost

I spent the next days, weeks, and months feeling depressed and not knowing what to do with my life. I was practically having a midlife (third life?) crisis. I didn’t know what I was good at and what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

My job was going down the drain. And my blog, though successful at first, is not generating any money since I can’t monetize it yet due to my work visa. I couldn’t do any freelance work or side hustles also because of my visa.

I felt stuck. Nothing cheered me up. Then I started to wonder if I had made the right decision to come to the US and get stuck in this work visa situation. If I were in Vietnam, at least I could apply to whatever job I want without being asked about sponsorship.

Then I started doubting what I chose to study in college and in grad school. I started doubting myself and every major decision I’d ever made in my life. It was during this time that the voice of the “loser” inside me spoke to me the loudest. And unfortunately, I listened to it every single day.

Mr. FAF

During this time, Mr. FAF was super supportive. He would try to remind me how far we had gone from being two poor graduate students to having our own house and two beautiful kids.

He would tell me stories about his friends and colleagues who were going through a much tougher time and still stayed positive. Those stories did cheer me up briefly. But then, I dug myself back into his hole of self-pity and disorientation.

During that time, I tried to maintain a good performance at work so that my boss didn’t have another reason to lay me off. But everyday I came into work wondering if I’d be at the same desk the next day.

I even packed up my stuff and cleaned my desk so that I wouldn’t have to spend hours doing so if I got laid off. I told my colleagues I was doing spring cleaning, but I was just preparing to leave. I was mentally preparing myself for a layoff.

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Conclusion

The current job is the first full-time job I have ever had in my entire life. Prior to this, I had multiple part-time jobs and internships.

It didn’t help that the layoff possibility was looming large in the holiday season when everything was supposed to be festive and promising.

I did some Google search, and it turned out that layoffs in December are pretty common since that’s when employers close their financial books. I was lucky I was informed months in advance. And it is possible that I can still hold on to my job.

But this is not the end of the story. As I was checking the description of the jobs I I wanted to do but wasn’t qualified for, a light bulb went on in my head. Why don’t I start learning those skills now instead of lamenting about the fact that I never learned them in school?

After all, not everything is taught in school, and there are a lot of free and paid resources out there. That’s when I decided to stop my self-pity and take action to change things around. And this will be the topic of my next post.

Related:

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31 thoughts on “My Time Has Come: Facing A Layoff – Lost, Scared & Self-pity”

  • Oh man, I’m sorry to hear you’re going through that! The unknown can feel even worse than the actual dreaded answer in some cases – no fun.
    Have you ever used LinkedIn Learning? They recently bought Lynda.com and have courses on just about everything from Photoshop to Leadership (some suck, some are awesome). You may be talking about that in the next post, actually! Wishing you all the best.

    I hope you’re enjoying that sweet new baby of yours!

    • Thank you for the suggestions, Miss FM! I checked out Lynda, and it looks like they do have lots of great courses. I’m taking online courses on other websites as well. The internet is amazing!

  • I think I know what happens in chapter 2 haha. The layoff looming stinks but sometimes it’s good to make the move. In 5 years, you’ll likely be glad this happened because it can move you into a line of work that you could love. I remember us talking about how you wanted to switch before long time ago, and I said it was only a matter of trying + time.

  • OMG! I thought you’d just been busy working and living life. I am so sorry that you’ve gone through this. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for you.

  • Good luck with the job search. I know it’s tough with the H1B visa.
    Hopefully, you can find an internal position to transfer to.
    Also, you can fall back on your husband’s H1B right? You can get a spouse visa until you find another job.
    Being an immigrant is tough.
    Can you start an offshore LLC and monetize that way?

    • Thank you, Joe! I can get a spouse visa, but I won’t be able to work without sponsorship on that visa. But you are totally right, if anything, I will need to switch to a spouse visa and try to land another job.

      I thought about an LLC, but it might complicate our effort to get our green cards in the future, so Mr. FAF told me to just wait 🙁

  • That’s sad too hear. I’m glad your husband has been supporting you and reminding you how far you’ve come since. Something we forget a lot.

    However, I seriously have no doubts that you’ll be back on your feet quickly, even with those tricky visa annoyances. As you rightly said, there nothing stopping our from learning those skills now!

    Hope after taking some time out you dig deep into that tenacity we all know you have. Things get better, and life is willing to give us chances when we don’t give up.

    Wish you all the best, I really do.

  • Hi Ms FAF,

    Haven’t seen your posts in a while. Was hoping all is good and you’re enjoying the new baby.
    I’ve been let go 3x from my jobs and although it was scary, it all worked out in the end. When one door closes, another one opens as they say. And it’s absolutely true.
    Just remember that no matter what, chances are you will never be homeless and alone , which is my biggest fear.
    You have a great support system around you and you have been so frugal all these years that I’m confident your savings will last until you decide what you want to do next with your life.
    Hang in there.

    • Thank you for your kind words, CJ! I’m sorry to hear that you were let go 3 times. It must have been so emotionally draining. I’m glad it worked out in the end. Will keep you posted 🙂

  • I am so sorry you and Mr. FAF have to go through this scary time. Our company was going through a reorganization recently and I had the same feeling. Use this time to learn the new skills you have either been wanting or lacking. You will be much more prepared and put yourself to be ready to jump back into the game when the right opportunity comes across your desk. Hang in there!

  • Sorry to hear about this! Good thing they gave you a long heads up and you get to negotiate a severance at least? That should tie you over for a bit.

    The good news is that job hiring picks up tremendously right about now, so opportunities will increase.

    May I ask why a spouse to an american would need a H1B visa? Or is your husband also on a work visa?

    • I haven’t started negotiating a severance package yet since there’s a chance I might be able to hold on to the job. But if there’s any indication that I am being let go soon, I think I will need to start on it.

      Mr. FAF and I are on the H1B visa, so we’re in a way tied to our employers.

  • Hello. I have been following you for one year or so but haven’t had the chance to comment. I just wanted to let you know that I feel you and I was in the similar situation 2 years ago. My husband left his full time job to pursue his passion and I was laid off 1 month after, got pregnant, got on Medicaid for the children and my pregnancy, got back out there as a contractor, the project got cancelled and almost laid off again and went off on unpaid 3 months maternity break. I finally have something solid now. So hang in there mama. You will find a job that suits you. Stay positive. Hey, at least your house is paid off!! good job!!

    • Hi Sam, thank you for sharing your story! I’m sorry to hear that you went through such a tough time. I’m glad everything worked out in the end. And congrats on your LO! 🙂

  • Oh, FAF, I’m so sorry that this happened to you. I had a feeling that when you commented on my job article that maybe something was up…

    I myself have felt lost many, many times in life. But every time something better seemed to come along every corner. I hope that this is the silver lining for you, too.

    And I think you should feel proud of your frugal ways and how they set you up for times exactly like this. Paid-off mortgage, what? That’s a huge achievement!

    Hang in there!

  • I am so sorry to hear this Ms. FAF!! Hopefully your company will provide you with some type of severance package that will cover you until you find another job that will sponsor your work visa.
    You may tryout Skillshare to find any new skills you want to learn and help your strengthen your resume. Or checkout the library and see if they offer online courses. I build up my Excel skills going through the library online courses and it’s free.
    You are a strong woman and will be able to get through this. Be optimistic on what lies ahead of you.

    • Thank you for your great advice, Kris! I had no idea I could take free courses through the library. I will def check it out.

      Excel is a powerful tool and is definitely something I’ve been telling myself to dive into for a long time. I’m barely scratching the surface of Excel and already think it’s amazing!

  • So sorry you had to go through all of this angst and that you’re still not sure what your future holds. I think it’s smart that you’re taking classes to try to get to where you’ll qualify for more jobs. Plus learning is just always rewarding, if rarely easy. Good luck!

  • Im so sorry you’ve went thru this, there is nothing more unsettling than not knowing day to day if your going to have a job..we all have bills to pay…and the stress level is off the charts !! Praying you find something quickly !!!

  • Being laid off has been very tough, I have experienced that (mostly its my fault, I was experiencing my midlife crisis stage at that time). I have been asking myself, what shall I do? Shall I apply right away? Or maybe take a break? Its really tough but I have my husband support and it helped a lot!

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