Layoffs: why they happen and what to do next

Why Layoffs Happen & How to Deal

After years of a pandemic where there were more jobs than there were people, followed by everyone quitting, the summer of 2022 and the time since has seen many layoffs—many of which were very surprising. However layoffs happen, and they never feel good, especially for those on the receiving end of the layoff. No industry is safe from layoffs and they can come as a complete surprise or foreshadowed, lurking on the horizon—hopefully enough for employees to plan ahead. But before we get into how to deal with being laid off, let’s talk about the background of why many layoffs happen.

1. A merger or restructure

This is one of those “on the horizon” situations we were talking about. If a merger happens, where two companies become one, chances are there will be overlap and you’ll be able to prepare for what happens next. Restructures, where jobs are cut due to any number of factors, can also be foreshadowed if there seem to be too few projects coming in or you’re mysteriously being asked to train others for your job. Both of these scenarios tend to come out of financial reassessments and business deals that you, as an employee, are never included in, but will ultimately affect you down the line.

2. Cost Reduction

Sometimes a company simply needs to reduce costs and will decide to shut down select sections of the business. One example we’ve seen in recent years is the closing of brick-and-mortar stores, where large companies lay off their cashiers, stockists, and delivery drivers. But this happens at least every few years in every industry and in startups and enterprises alike—it’s what thriving companies always decide to do in order to keep going. Sometimes cost reduction comes from situations beyond even the company’s control. 

3. Economic Downturns

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for the most recent rounds of layoffs across industries has stemmed from geopolitical issues, rising interest rates, and concerns around global inflation. With the rising cost of labor at odds with slow or stagnant profit margins, companies are cutting back on said labor. It’s one of the only quick ways companies can keep up with competition during times of economic distress—by reassessing where they are spending and pulling back where they can. Often, this means getting by with significantly fewer employees than ever before or outsourcing work—at least until the economy stabilizes. 

So, now that we've tackled the reasons you've been laid off, how do you cope with being let go?

Step 1: Don't blame yourself

Hopefully, you’ve noticed a trend within all of the above scenarios—Layoffs often have nothing to do with you and are beyond your control. Let’s be real: companies are not your family, even if they claim to be one in their core values. Companies have to look out for their own operations and profits. Take some solace in knowing that, whether or not you were late that morning or missed a deadline, nothing you did or didn’t do would change the outcome of your layoff. Take any blame or shame off your shoulders and remember, you’re also (unfortunately) not alone in most layoffs. Which brings us to step 2…

Step 2: Talk it out and take stock

Talk about what happened as publicly or privately as you want, especially with your therapist, people you trust, and even peers within (and outside) the company. Perhaps you want to share on LinkedIn that you were let go and are looking for leads on a new job. We’re not saying to bash the company (it’ll only make you look bad and you’ll regret it after the fact). But being honest about your passion and drive—and how you’d like to find yourself in a new place—can help point you in the direction of a new and promising job through your network. We've actually seen these posts turn into jobs or at least strong connections. As for the second half of our advice, take stock of all that you do have by looking at your finances, applying for unemployment, and getting your Cobra or medical set up. We have a handy checklist from our last discussion of how to handle layoffs that’ll help you through it.

Step 3: Revamp your portfolio and resume

After you’ve taken time for yourself, done some traveling, or brushed up on your favorite hobbies, it’s time to get back in the game. Decide what you want your next step to be and tailor your resume and portfolio (plus case studies) to the job you want. Don’t work in isolation, either—reach out to your former colleagues and share key metrics with one another, help design portfolios in exchange for copywriting help, and so on, to make everyone’s work that much better. This is the time to network, network, network. You might not work together anymore, but you’ll be helping each other out. Invest in your creative community and it’ll reward you in return.

Speaking of creative communities, we have one right here at Artisan. Our team of recruiters are always looking for new talent for upcoming jobs—and one of them might be perfect for you. 

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