Your Layoff is not a Badge of Shame


One day you are “doing a great job!” The next day you’re invited to an unscheduled meeting with your manager and a surprise guest, the HR Director. Your manager says, “this was a difficult decision…and by the way, please collect your things and leave the premises immediately.”

Before you can retreat to your haven everyone in the organization is aware of what occurred, and you’re left asking, “WHAT THE ___ JUST HAPPENED?”

I know from personal experience that putting this, seemingly devastating, event into perspective is critical. Internalizing your dismissal is a waste of time, but learning from the experience is golden.

Here is what I have learned:

1. Your layoff is NOT a badge of shame; it is a gateway to freedom. The layoff is your chance to refresh, reinvent, and repurpose yourself by reflecting on where you are and what’s happening in this season of your career. You now have an opportunity to dig into your resume and absorb the power that resides within it. Don’t give that away by waddling in shame. Proudly lift your head and work to confidently demonstrate your unique value as you pursue the next opportunity.

2. Layoffs are about business; it’s not personal. Many companies cut their workforce because they are “shifting strategies that require them to cut in some places while adding in others” (DiChristopher, 2016, p.1). Most organizations will do what’s in their best interest. You should take note and do the same.

3. Sometimes your brilliance is no longer in season with the organization’s mission. A company’s new mission does not indicate a lack of brilliance on your part. It just means you have done your job by helping the company to reach its previous mission; now your season has come to an end.

4. You must be honest; your skills are rusty! - It is difficult to admit when your skills are no longer relevant. Maybe you need to be more creative, obtain additional training or take more risks. Every business will do what it needs to do to stay relevant. Are you willing to the same?

5. It is important to know when it’s time to move on. You were there too long anyway. You were complacent, angry, and frustrated. You could not see it, but it was apparent to everyone else.

6. It may be time to step into your purpose. Many of you have positioned your gifts and talents as a cheap “side gig” because fear has become your bully. Regularly, Fear brazenly says, “you’re too old, you’re not knowledgeable, and you’re not financially secure enough to seriously pursue it as a business. Fear of new and unfamiliar things is natural, but giving into fear is a mistake. Now, is a great time to confront your bully by taking the necessary steps toward your secret passion. Go for it! You have nothing to lose.

To everyone who has adorned themselves with the Badge of Shame as I once did, REMOVE IT! Replace it with a shiny medal of perspective. Then confidently move on to your next adventure!

DiChristopher, T. (2016) U.S job cuts rise to 64,141, in April; 2016 at 7-year high: Challenger https://www.cnbc.com/2016/05/05/us-job-cuts-rise-to-65141-in-april-2016-layoffs-at-7-year-high-challenger.html

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Thank you for reading this installment of “If You're Wondering Where You Fit on Your Job; Chances are You Don’t.” This series is designed to help professionals work through the confusion, frustration, and embarrassment of a layoff. I and several of my friends have been through the experience. Blair Dottin-Haley, Founder & Creator of The Blairisms, is one of them. The Blairisms is an inspirational lifestyle brand that captures Blair’s original affirmations, meant to inspire, and create moments of reflection and laughter to strengthen individuals and communities. Blair first shared his affirmations on a dry erase board outside of his cubicle. After his layoff, he got busy and turned them into a business. Blair’s story speaks to the mission of this series and my company, Liberated Expressions. The synergy between the two businesses produced a collaborative opportunity for this series to carry a title derived from a Blairism. Please visit www.theblairisms.com

Dr. Johnette Ruffner-Ceaser is the Founder & CEO of Liberated Expressions, LLC. Dr. Ceaser has served as a progressive nonprofit executive, with over 16 years of leadership experience managing local and nationally recognized education programs. She created Liberated Expressions from her journey to personal and professional freedom. She uses the lessons from her voyage to do transformative work in communities across the country.

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