DEV Community

Cover image for Layoffs: It’s Okay to Not Be Okay
Tori Crawford
Tori Crawford

Posted on

Layoffs: It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

Layoffs. It’s a word we are all becoming very acquainted with here in the tech world—more for some than for others. Whether you survive a round of layoffs or become another one of the thousands of people laid off, they affect everyone. In my short 3.5 years in the tech industry, I have gone through 4 rounds of layoffs. I survived the first 3 and was unfortunately laid off in the most recent round.

There are many feelings to be spoken about on both sides: surviving a layoff and being laid off. One can lose their sense of safety and, depending upon how the company handled the layoffs, there could be a lot of anger, resentment, mistrust, etc. When you survive a layoff there could also be a layer of survivor's guilt that can strike many people. It hit me very hard the 3rd round of layoffs I had experienced. I had only been at the company for a week and a half. I thought for sure I’d be an easy target to lay off, but no, two of my teammates who had been at the company for a while were laid off. The big thought in my mind for weeks following was “Why not me?”.

Fast forward about 8 months and my company announced another round of layoffs and unfortunately, I was one of those affected. The first thing that crossed my mind was needing to pass along all of my knowledge on the current projects to my teammates, which I did. Then I cried and I cried A TON.

I cried because I was losing the best team I had ever worked on. I cried because I was losing the best lead engineer I had ever worked with. I cried because I was losing some of the best senior and staff engineers I’d worked with because they taught me SO MUCH with tons of patience. I cried because I was losing my mentor. I cried because I was losing the first manager who ever showed interest in helping me progress my career to the next level. I lost more than just a job, a paycheck. I cried because I had lost all of those things I have just mentioned.

This post does not truly have a purpose other than for me to express my thoughts/grief and to let everyone else who has been laid off know that what they are feeling is completely okay and normal. Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t search for those “why’s” because you’ll likely never get closure. Try to accept your new reality and work through the grieving process. You got this.

Note: The cover image for this blog post is brought to you from a hike in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in July 2022.

Top comments (13)

michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington

I really appreciate the honesty of your post here and how ya covered both what it's like to be a layoff survivor and what it's like to be laid off.

Layoffs are the worst and depending on how we're affected by them, they can really make us feel let down by an org, question our own abilities & worth, or feel guilty that we're still around when others that we look up to & are friends with are let go. I'm not really saying anything new — you covered all these bases — but just to note that I totally agree with you and especially your positive message in the end.

As you said, try not to beat yourself up. It's totally normal to feel not okay after a layoff, and you should give yourself some space to grieve. But also, it's important to not blame yourself. When the time comes, you will move on to something else and you can provide a lot of value wherever you go. You're worth it and you will get through this!

Also, in my opinion, layoffs are most often a sign of an organizational failure (and sometimes compounded by external factors like a market change)... I think the folks cut are most often not at fault here but a casualty of other mistakes.

torianne02 profile image
Tori Crawford

Love this. Thank you so much for adding your thoughts here.

lucassperez profile image
Lucas Perez

Very recently I quit my job, a job with excellent colleagues and culture, and went for another one. After one week and one day, they laid off a ton of devs, me included, and now I'm unemployed. I'm not commenting this for any particular reason other than letting it out.

But let's go, we got this.

jarvisscript profile image
Chris Jarvis

Sorry to hear you were laid off. Like others have said lay offs are not your fault but the companies.
Great picture. I met my wife in the Smokies. We were on a school trip. It was one of those huge classes where you never met everyone.

callmehongmaybe profile image

I appreciate the honesty and the raw vulnerability you're giving us. Layoffs, in some cases, can temporarily take away people's sense of self and meaning in life.
As someone who's just trying to survive at work ( as a junior engineer ), I relate to most of the pain points you said. Losing important connections for some random reasons really got us at our wit's end.
The way I process this, is to read how others react to layoffs, make a failsafe ( or an exit ) plan in case of termination, take everything I learned from my current job, and make a blog post about it.
It's fair to say that you're a smart and kindhearted person, and personally I believe you can find a good place to work in a very foreseeable future.

canro91 profile image
Cesar Aguirre
mjoycemilburn profile image

I feel for you - 50(!) years ago I went through this. My first job, and I loved it so much! But, hey, looking back it was exactly the shake-up I needed. There are always opportunities for bright, hungry people like you. Just think of all the stuff you've learned and the excellent examples you've been set by the people you've worked with. Time now to take your setback as an opportunity to reassess where you'd like your career to take you, then stand up straight and apply what you've learned.

You **can **do this!

mrshadowgames profile image
MrShadowGames • Edited

Hi Victoria!

I know this feeling, too. In my past 10 years I've been in 4 companies, the longest I've stayed with was nearly 4 1/2 years with exceptionally patient and helpful senior developers around me. These guys enkindled something in me, but it was not enjoying "their" stack of technologies. In my opinion, software development with Java+Wildfly+Mvn+etc feel slow-ish and kinda outdated to make good and effortless progress.
That's why I took that newly gained motivation over to a long term private project that makes use of JS/TS with Vue, MicroServices (with Express), Kubernetes, DigitalOcean, etc.
Although I found another job (that pays the bills) as a "boring" Java Developer", that new project I've been working on for around 2 years, became an incredible self-motivator to learn something new everyday and it gives me the confidence and trust in my abilities that I never really found at my day job place where the majority of time might be wasted with meetings or antiquated processes that some senior guy developed 15 years ago.

Bottom Line:
The company you are working at may be a great place to meet great people and you might actually learn something for your career but it's not garantueed.
If these "boni" are missing, then the only purpose of that company is to pay your bills and keep you running in the hamster wheel. Nothing more, nothing less.

If the place you are living doesn't have good companies / not enough interesting job opportunities, it's either time to move to another city (possibly with industries thriving). Otherwise, there's the option to do your own thing while working at a boring company that keeps you afloat.

What's important, is to see the bigger picture for yourself, the direction that you wanna grow and if you will be happy with that new role/job/position in the future.

Best of luck to you!

sramkrishna profile image
Sriram Ramkrishna

I hear you. Thanks for sharing.

I was laid off last year and similar - best engineering team, it was so much fun. I was so sad that our division got closed. The team I was in reconstituted themselves with my manager starting a new business. I still help them - and it's still nice to be part of it even if peripherally.

Over the course of the past 6 years, I've had been laid off almost on a regular cadence - on the same weekend of April :-) Anyways, we do end up finding a new job and sometimes things happen for a reason and there is a whole new adventure out there.

There is a lot of us out there right now that are hurting like you are - and having been in that situation more times than I would like - I know that there will be daylight at the end of the tunnel. Hang in there!

road11 profile image
Eric Lynch

I am so sorry to hear that you have been affected by the layoffs at your company. I know how disheartening it can be from both sides of that desk. It's ok to grieve. You've lost a lot. But set a date/time when you'll move forward and focus squarely on finding another paying gig. You won't be over the emotional pain, but you'll have to move forward nonetheless. Not sure if I can be of help, but if I can, I'd like to.

sandeepbansal_2 profile image
Sandeep Bansal - 2/100

Hey there, I'm so sorry to hear about your recent experience with layoffs. It's definitely not an easy thing to go through, and it sounds like you've had to deal with it a few times in your short time in the tech industry.

I can definitely relate to the feelings of survivor's guilt and the "why not me" thoughts that come with it. It's natural to have those feelings, but it's important to remember that layoffs are often a necessary step for companies to ensure their long-term survival. It's never easy to let people go, but sometimes it's the only option.

I can also understand how difficult it must have been for you to lose such a great team and mentor. The people we work with can have such a huge impact on our lives and careers, and it's never easy to say goodbye.

But it's important to remember that this is just a setback, and it doesn't define you or your career. You have so much to offer, and I have no doubt that you'll land on your feet soon. Take the time to grieve and process what's happened, and then start looking ahead to the next opportunity.

If there's anything I can do to support you during this difficult time, please don't hesitate to reach out. I know how tough this can be, and I want to do everything I can to help.

Take care,

lakincoder profile image
Lakin Mohapatra

I'm sorry to hear about the layoff. Losing your job is tough, and it's normal to feel a range of emotions. Remember that you are not alone in this situation and take time to process your feelings. Keep a positive outlook and don't blame yourself. This is not the end of the road, job loss is not a permanent situation. Keep your resume updated, network and look for job opportunities that align with your skills and experience. Remember you are strong and capable, and you will get through this difficult time.

Let me know if i can help you in any way.

silviaespanagil profile image
Silvia España Gil

Victoria, thank you for sharing so openly your feelings and your experience. You got this!