As you may know, layoffs happen all the time in entertainment. Even before this Coronavirus mess, Hollywood has been going through a transitional period as companies try to accommodate shifting viewership patterns. But getting laid off is a weird feeling – even if your position was eliminated because of a re-org or something else completely outside of your control (who could have ever predicted one of those things would be a global pandemic?), you still might start to question yourself and whether you were the problem. Why did you get laid off over someone else? But don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s normal for those thoughts to creep into your mind, but they aren’t going to help you get to the next phase of your career. Instead, you’ve got to stay positive and view this layoff event as an opportunity.
Your immediate reaction to a layoff might be extreme anger and sadness, or it may be joy and relief, depending on how you were feeling about your job and your personal financial situation. But even if you are on the anger end of the spectrum, there is always a bright side to a layoff.
Layoffs often happen because the company isn’t doing well. Do you want to be part of a company that’s failing? Of course not! Look at this as an opportunity to find something better, at a company with a more secure future. If the layoffs were the result of a merger, the people who were left behind are about to face a really tough transitional period, usually where they have to take on extra work, reorganize their teams and work cohorts, and adjust to new bosses and protocols. When you get laid off, you avoid all that stress. If you’re lucky enough to get severance, you may even be able to spend time taking care of your own personal needs – do more yoga, hang out with your kids, get a dog, whatever makes you happy. Think of it as an extended vacation! And if you don’t get severance, that’s okay – you can put all your focus into finding a job that makes you happy at a company you are excited to work for.
A layoff gives you an opportunity to reassess your career goals and make changes that you may not have otherwise considered. Maybe you were miserable at your job but couldn’t quit for financial reasons. And while it might suck to go on unemployment for a couple of months, you now have no choice but to find something better. You can put those 40+ hours a week you spent working toward finding something new. Think about what you liked about your previous job and what you’d never want to deal with again, and let that dictate your job search. Research various positions and think carefully about whether you want to continue on the same track you were on. It’s okay to change your mind – if you want to switch roles or even industries, now’s the time!
Another interesting thing that happens after a layoff is that people come out of the woodwork to help you. Let people know about your situation, and you’ll be amazed at all the kind words that come your way. Embrace the fact that people want to help you. Let everyone know what you’re looking for next, and rekindle relationships with contacts that you haven’t caught up with in a while. The outpouring of love and support you’ll feel will inevitably make you feel good about yourself and your work, but it also may lead to new opportunities.
That's not to say you can't, won't, or shouldn't feel any bitterness at all -- even if you're happy about your new trajectory, there's still a sting that comes with the change. You are 100% entitled to have whatever feeling that comes to you about your old company. But you must be careful how you address it in an interview. You don’t need to lie and say that everything was wonderful, but try to keep the conversation positive and focused on the future as much as possible instead of giving into the temptation to gossip. It’s an easy trap to fall into, so you have to be extra mindful about how you’re speaking about your former employer.
Ultimately, what happens after your layoff depends on how you handle yourself, and it all comes down to how you frame the situation mentally. If a layoff is something that you’ve gone through recently, we say CONGRATULATIONS! Look at this as an opportunity, not a setback. You’re in control of what’s next, and we’re sure whatever that is going to be great!
Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
Adulting means you need a job! We were thrilled to offer advice to emerging professionals -- check out the guest blog we wrote for Adulting with Jane for 5 tips for writing a great resume and hear us recount some resume dos and don'ts on the How Did I Get This Far? poducast
Congratulations, 2020 graduates! Though your ceremonies may not be traditional, and the future feels uncertain, you deserve to relish in the fact that you completed a major milestone in your education. But we know that beneath the pride, there's anxiety about what's next. You're entering the job market in an unprecedented global pandemic, there's an economic downturn, and the media is forecasting only very bleak news. What's there to celebrate? What should you do? How do you navigate a world in which the rules you prepared for have suddenly changed?
Our advice this week will be more personal than usual, because we can relate. We both graduated from college into The Great Recession -- Cindy in 2008 and Angela in 2009. We'd entered college with one expectation for how to find a job after graduation and were faced with an entirely different reality when we were ready to enter the workforce. Neither of us had connections in the entertainment industry, and the competition was more fierce than usual. We each took a different approach; Cindy spent a year interning while living at home in New York and interned/PA'ed again after moving to LA, while Angela enrolled in grad school at USC and completed internships as part of her degree. Meanwhile, our peers took a multitude of different paths, depending on their connections, financial resources, and previous work experience. We all had to navigate a new economic landscape. But over a decade later, we've learned the most crucial lesson: No matter what path you need to take now, you will be okay.
There's no one-size-fits-all approach to figuring out what to do next. You might have the economic freedom to hold out for the perfect first job, or you might have to take the first job you can get. You may not be able to move to LA immediately like you'd planned. That's okay. Don't compare yourself to other people who may have what looks like an easier time than you do. Don't worry that you'll never catch up. You can't control those external factors, so your time will be better spent focusing on the things you can control, like honing your skills, assessing what your true goals are, and building a job search strategy that meets your specific needs.
Trust that everything will work out in the end, as long as you continue to self-assess and consider what you truly want for yourself. Keep in mind that while transitioning into an unfamiliar role can be hard, it's completely doable! And remember that you'll always have a shorthand to explain to future employers why the beginning of your career may not be standard. In fact, your resilience as a 2020 graduate will make you an asset -- you're currently learning critical life and job skills, like creative problem-solving, adapting to new technological realities, and pivoting to find new solutions.
It can be hard to swallow optimism in the face of trying times, but trust us: You will find success on the other side of this. That's not a platitude; it's our truth.
Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
If you’ve got some extra time on your hands these days, you might want to start thinking about how to boost your online presence. Regardless of whether you’re looking for a new job or not, it’s always good to work on your professional brand, and there are many ways build it online. Here are a few places where you can create content, curate content, or simply contribute to professional conversations that will help you stand out as an expert in your field.
LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the most obvious place to start when thinking about your professional brand, since that’s what the platform is designed for. It goes without saying that you should spend time completing your LinkedIn profile (and if this is something you need to work on, we’re here to help!), but there’s more to LinkedIn than your profile! You can share content that you find interesting, which will give you an opportunity to make smart commentary and stand out on people’s news feeds. If you use the right hashtags, your posts will be discovered by people outside your direct network, and you’ll have a chance to build a following. If you have more to say, you can even consider writing your own articles and publishing them directly on the platform!
Facebook. Because it’s viewed more as a social platform, Facebook is a little bit trickier for building your professional brand. You should definitely keep your profile employer-friendly, but you don't need to mix business and personal life if that's not authentic to your personality. Some people use Facebook primarily to promote their business endeavors, but if you'd rather use it to connect with family and friends, or you'd like to keep your own posts to a minimum and just scroll through other people's feeds, that's totally fine. But outside of your profile/newsfeed, one overlooked -- yet important -- feature of the platform is Facebook Groups. There are tons of industry-focused groups with resources for the job search, navigating work issues, and sharing relevant information. Join some of these groups and participate in conversations. If you’re an active member (and supplying useful information), people will start to recognize your name, which is great for your professional brand.
Twitter. There are many ways you can use Twitter to build your online persona. If you're looking to position yourself as an "expert," share a mixture of content you've created along with articles that other people in your area of the industry would find interesting. You'll want to spend some time engaging in dialogue on the platform, whether it's public or through DMs. There are also Twitter Chats you can join to meet new people and discuss a given topic. These chats are scheduled, so you're conversing with people in a real time, which is a great way to make connections and get new followers. You may even consider live tweeting events. Twitter is also a haven for comedians and writers -- you can use the platform to test jokes, share musings, and develop your voice.
Website. Does everyone need a professional website? No. But for some, it can be a very important platform for marketing yourself. For example, if you’re an artist, a website is a great place to showcase your portfolio (just make sure you’re highlighting quality work -- if you’re featuring low-budget projects from college, they may actually hurt you when looking for a job). If you’re selling a product or services online, you should definitely have a website. And if you work as a freelancer, a website is a good way to control what appears when someone enters your name into a Google search. If you’re keeping a website up to date (and you must!), those who search for you will trust that your website contains the most accurate information about your career and have a way to contact you (or your reps). It also allows you to provide information about upcoming media appearances and speaking engagements, or ways to purchase any books or other work you've produced, if applicable.
Blogs. If you want to become a thought-leader in your field, you need to get your thoughts and opinions out in the world! Blogging is a great way to do this. As we said above, LinkedIn is one place to blog, but you could also try Medium or your own site. Additionally, you can expand your audience by seeking guest blog opportunities with organizations or existing popular blogs that might benefit from your expertise. In particular, getting an article published on a blog from an academic institution will rank high in Google search results, so don’t hesitate to reach out to your alma mater for blogging opportunities. Even if your blog doesn't have a strong following, having a regularly updated blog on your professional website is a way to indicate that your website is current, letting potential employers or clients know that you're still a working expert in your field. It's important to update your blog on a regular schedule to keep your audience engaged, so try to be consistent. And share your blog posts with your social networks, whether on your personal pages or through professional accounts -- most blogs will do this automatically if you don't have the bandwidth to create a fresh, creative post each time.
YouTube/Podcasts. If you're comfortable on camera and/or with the sound of your voice, consider creating a YouTube series or podcast! Make sure you have a professional set-up and the time to generate content regularly. You might consider reaching out to other people with YouTube channels or podcasts to collaborate for a few episodes, so you can reach new audiences. Another way to use YouTube: Showcase your filmmaking work or create a web series!
Your online presence is only one part of your professional brand, but it's a significant factor in attracting attention from hiring managers or potential clients. If you have the time while we're stuck at home, consider what message you want to put out there, get creative, and get to it!
Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan