In April, Camille,* a 24-year-old from Chicago, was one of the eight percent of her colleagues laid off from her company. She says her layoff from the tech start-up initially sent her into a “depression spiral.”
“I was so worried about losing my apartment and the new life I’ve started here in Chicago,” she says. “I frantically applied to a ton of jobs, and then when I had very few responses, I started to sleep a lot to force the time to pass.”
Psychologist Dr. Karla Ivankovich agrees, saying that when it comes to being laid off, those impacted often don’t consider it within the context of loss. Instead, they see it as “just another event” that happened.
However, “loss is loss,” she says. “When experiencing the loss of a relationship or the loss of a job or even a partner, it signifies change ahead. When it happens with minimal to no warning, it can cause fear, anxiety, and even depression. The fear stems from the unknown.”
Melissa, a 27-year-old from Queens, New York, was laid off from her sales role at a global publisher in June. “I’ve experienced lots of ups and downs,” she says, describing her feelings as fluctuating between being grateful for a support system and savings yet also feeling like her career is in “shambles.”
Her stress was further amplified because her parents, who both work in restaurants, also lost their jobs. Melissa’s mother had applied for unemployment toward the end of March, but she didn’t receive her first payment until mid-May.
Money has also been a consistent concern for Camille during her unemployment. She says she would have had to move across the country had she not received her government stipend.
“The $600 per week unemployment stipend is what has saved my mental health,” she says. “I’m able to live a life similar to the life I had before, and apply to jobs I think I would enjoy. I’m worried at the moment about what will happen when that $600 runs out.”
When it comes to her job search, Camille says the road to securing employment has been challenging.
“At first, I was met with a lot of silence and rejections,” she says. “Then I started to get interview requests. Several times, I made it to the final round of interviews but didn’t secure the position. It’s a hard shift from what I experienced earlier in my career, when I had tons of interviews and many offers to choose from for my next career step.”
For Melissa, looking ahead at future potential employers means taking a step back to evaluate the workplace’s values. With her unemployment coinciding with national protests, she says today’s political climate has made her even more conscientious of her privilege—and she wants employers to be aware of theirs, too.
“I don’t want to go work just for any company,” says Melissa, who is Latinx. “I want to see that they care about people, that they care about diversity, and that they care about the Black Lives Matter movement.”
While being laid off can feel terrible, you are not alone. Below, Brandel Dykhuizen and Dr. Ivankovich offer strategies for getting through this rough patch.