Here’s how 3 workers have rebounded after getting laid off


By Anastasia Chernikova

The trend of massive tech layoffs has continued from 2022 into 2023. In 2022, at least 140,000 tech workers lost their jobs, far outpacing 2020 and 2021. For instance, Meta cut around 11,000 workers, about 13% of its workforce, and Snap laid off 1,200 workers, about 20% of its workforce

In the wake of such turbulence and uncertainty, workers are finding opportunities to reinvent themselves and establish new opportunities. For many, these experiences have also opened up the much needed way to take a break for self-care and put their mental health in order.

I spoke with three workers about how they have rebounded after getting laid off, and here’s what they had to say: 

Rebounding by starting a business

Jacob Richard was laid off from the role of brand marketing manager at Nikon in 2022 with no warning after working for the organization for six years. “I thought that, after putting in so much hard work, my job would be safe. I never expected to be laid off,” he admits. “In my role, I managed various projects from media planning and buying to creative strategy, digital content creation, and consumer research.”

One day, Richard received an email from his manager who informed him that they had to make cuts to their team due to budget restrictions and that he would no longer be able to continue in his role. They gave him no other reasons for this decision, so it left him with many unanswered questions.

“At first, I felt betrayed and hurt by how my layoff was announced via email instead of face-to-face,” says Richard. “But after some time, I realized they had probably done it this way because they didn’t want to have an emotional conversation with me or make things more difficult than they already were.” 

Richard knew he had to immediately jump back in and take control of his career. Upon some reflection, he realized that he wanted to “be a leader in some capacity.” 

“Whether it was helping others with their work or taking on more responsibility, I wanted to demonstrate that I could handle larger roles and prove my worth as an asset to the team,” he says. 

Richard rebounded to the loss of his job by creating his own organization. He says his network and his experience was a vital component to his ability to do so. 

“From my earliest days as a budding photographer to my current experience as an industry expert, I have seen the world through the lens of a camera,” he says. “My journey has inspired me to create Camera Prism, an online platform dedicated to educating both budding and experienced photographers alike.” 

Here’s how 3 workers have rebounded after getting laid off

For those who are now looking for a job (or who are interested in starting a new business) he recommends ensuring they stay on top of industry trends and keep their skills sharp.

Taking time off

Despite working as a software engineer for a top tech company ServiceNow, Irene Graham expected layoffs due to the recession. But when it happened, it still had a psychological impact, so Graham says she took time away to recover, be with her family, and get her mind in the right place before she made her next move. 

“I’d always wanted to try my hand at something on my own. I realized early in my career that I am not the type of person who can work a 9-to-5 job indefinitely,” she says. “I’d been planning to start my own business alongside my job for a long time.” 

Graham took the plunge and started Spylix, a remote parental-monitoring platform. However, starting her own business had its own set of challenges.

“This transition was difficult because I had to manage everything from investments to employees, and there were times when I felt like giving up,” says Graham. “I reminded myself why I started this venture in the first place, and I told myself that even if things are difficult right now, they will be okay later as long as I keep putting in the effort.”

Reevaluating skills

Alexander Oleinikov’s layoff came in July amid a massive spike in tech company cuts. He had been an engineering manager with for 2.5 years and was part of the staff reduction efforts. 

While Oleinikov felt that this wasn’t the best time to be a free agent in the tech market, he was given a severance package that allowed him to take time off and enjoy himself before returning to work. For the first two months, he didn’t look for work.

“I didn’t want to get into a situation that would lead to another series of layoffs, so I wanted to think it through,” he says. “Every layoff brings some self-reflection: Was it because of me? How can I avoid similar situations in the future? I knew I had to work on my self-esteem and mental health because it’s pretty hard to get rejections when you haven’t looked for a job for a while and know you have to do it full time now.”

Oleinikov has also realized how crucial networking and soft skills are. 

“Some companies I applied to only responded after I found friends or former colleagues who could introduce me,” he says. “I also realized that soft skills win over hard skills during interviews. Interviewers are still people, and it’s often more important to show empathy and find the right vibe with that person than showcase your technical skills.” 

Overall, he is certain that the tech job market still has many opportunities, but it has changed. Oleinikov says tech professionals need to adapt to the new reality, which may mean learning new skills or altering their job roles.

Anastasia Chernikova is editor-in-chief of The Vivid Minds, a media initiative dedicated to stories about leaders who overcome challenges and moved forward.

Fast Company