The 10 Worst Things About Getting Laid Off

Last Updated Jan 27, 2009 2:10 PM EST

Layoffs are an ugly business. You can bring in consultants and other HR-type experts and subscribe to all the best practices, but you're just dressing up a pig.

I was laid off once, about 15 years ago. Well, sort of. The truth is that it was just a convenient way for the company's CEO to fire me. I didn't blame him, either; I wanted out as much as he wanted me out. I guess you could call it a no-fault termination.

Did I mention that the company eventually went under? Yeah, that was nice. Good thing I wasn't vindictive about getting fired -- I mean laid off.

Anyway, there's a lot to deal with when you're laid off and none of it's good. In my experience, here are ...

The 10 worst things about getting laid off
  1. Having to act cool when you've just been kicked in the teeth by a boss you can't stand and have no respect for. The injustice of it all.
  2. You can goof off at work and, if you're good at it, nobody's the wiser. At home, it's close quarters. You've really got to put some effort into screwing off. It's exhausting.
  3. For some poor unfortunates, work is actually a sanctuary from the stresses of home life. No kidding.
  4. Dealing with rejection. That's right, they might call it a layoff, but you feel rejected, just the same. After all, they canned you, not the guy in the cubicle next door. It's just like divorce. They might call it no-fault, but you know you did something to deserve it.
  5. Having to look for a job after being rejected. Let's face it, the only thing worse than looking for a job is trying to get a date. And just like dating, it's so much worse right after you've been dumped.
  6. Sure, all that free time is fun at first. But even video games get boring after a while (they do, don't they?). Then you wake up one day and realize you're almost out of cash. Panic time!
  7. Having to use your old company as a reference, but you're not sure what they'll say. Also digging up the old references that got you the job you were laid off from and having to tell them the whole gory story.
  8. It's hard to feel sexy after you've been canned. Hey, I'm not kidding. This goes for guys, too. Come on, admit it, you know you feel like less of a man. Of course you can go for pity, but you feel dirty afterwards.
  9. If you're an executive, you've got to go right into negotiating mode or lose the opportunity. One minute you're getting a Dear John speech, the next minute you're wheeling and dealing like it's a Monopoly game, "How about you keep the stock options and up the cash payout?"
  10. Having to explain what happened, over and over and over again, in every interview you have for the rest of your freakin' life.
Of course, companies have their own perspective about downsizing in a recession, and that's probably as it should be. Still, it's a real horror show when it happens to you.

Got any good layoff stories?

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