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10 Rules for Surviving Layoffs with Emilie Mazurek
Home > Blog >
10 Rules for Surviving Layoffs with Emilie Mazurek

10 Rules for Surviving Layoffs with Emilie Mazurek

Theertha Raj
July 27, 2023

Emilie Mazurek has aced the career journey of a UXer:
1) She broke in from an unrelated field
2) Built up an amazing LinkedIn audience
3) Grew to a Senior UX position in record time

This time when we caught up with Emilie, she had a rather personal story to tell. She also had some valuable lessons to share on surviving layoffs season, and preparing for the worst in a market of uncertainty. 

At this point, we all know someone who’s been affected by the lay-offs (or have been in the line of fire ourselves). 

Here is Emilie’s 10-step guide to surviving layoffs season, straight from someone who did it and came out on the other side.

Seen our conversations with her on how to do ADPList right? Or our chat on boot camps? You definitely should.

Rules to survive layoffs season

#1: Look out for yourself

Emilie was thrilled at her new role, just like everyone else. She didn’t see the layoffs coming.

Thankfully, Emilie was also smart enough to look out for herself from the start. It came of use when the worst happened. You need to do the same.

Save important files and resources in advance.

I know it’s scary but many companies lock employees out of work laptops on the day of a lay-off. No warning. No time to gather what you need.

You could lose access to all the prototypes, Figma files, and research you worked on overnight. It sounds horrible, but it’s happened to lots of people before.

Prepare for the case studies your portfolio will need by saving files in advance. Keep them ready for whenever you might need to work on them.

Many companies also have binding legal obligations on sharing their work publicly. Talk to your manager early on about what might be okay to share in your resume or portfolio, and what needs to stay private.

Keep the numbers ready too. Find out metrics data and qualitative outcomes of your work, to build a truly impactful case study.

The last one is a no-brainer. Be nice to your colleagues and peers. Opportunities can come from anywhere. Also, it’s just a decent thing to do.

#2: Keep your LinkedIn alive

Communities matter so much. Most people find jobs these days through recommendations and networking. So keep your LinkedIn alive. Comment on that acquaintance’s new promotion update, or share that new article you worked on. Keep in touch with people, and continue building connections even after you land a new job.

Make it a habit to connect with cohorts of other designers or researchers. It also helps you stay updated on industry trends, and do your job better.

Don’t just fall off the face of LinkedIn after updating your new job role. 

What to do if you get laid off

“..It kind of just feels like the rug is being ripped out from under your feet. And it's really hard not to take it personally or think that you could have done something differently to prevent this, which is almost never the case.”

#3: Be kind to yourself

Give yourself time to feel what you need to feel.

Getting laid off is a horrible experience, so be kind to yourself. Remember to not take it personally. It’s not you. 

Emilie felt embarrassed about getting laid off—it’s an extremely common reaction. She felt unsure about herself, and it introduced imposter syndrome. 

These emotions might not be the most productive, but you may still go through them. So give yourself permission to feel everything, in the moment.

It’s still in your power to change this situation. Once you’ve given yourself enough time to wallow, take baby steps toward putting yourself out there.

#4: Reach out to your network

It might feel embarrassing at first, but don’t hesitate to talk about your layoff with your network. Start small by talking to close friends and colleagues. You might be surprised by how much vulnerability helps.

Updating your network right away can be a huge game-changer in job hunting. Emilie realized that being public about her job search was the best thing she could’ve done. That’s when the opportunities started rolling in.

Emilie also drove up her LinkedIn posting gradually, till it was about twice a week. She focused on content that was either interesting or helpful. Even if you don’t post, sharing your opinions and engaging with the community can do wonders in making your profile memorable.

“Somebody reached out to me, they saw me on LinkedIn, I had a coffee chat with them and that's how it started. … this was not a job that was posted on LinkedIn. So if I hadn't put myself out there and been able to be found, I wouldn't be working at this company today.”

#5: Avoid emotional outbursts

Anger’s second among the five stages of grief. But think about the long run.

It might feel tempting to rant about your ex-employers on LinkedIn, or post a negative review in spite on Glassdoor.

Take a deep breath before you make any drastic moves. You might feel vindicated at the moment, but it’s not a good look. Future employers might see it as a red flag.

Rant to your family and friends about it, but take the high road in public. 

“... try to think big picture here… When you're putting stuff out there on LinkedIn, that is a representation of you and your brand..”

It’s really easy to succumb to a big emotional reaction, but try to focus on staying cool and strategic.

You still need things from your ex-employers, such as

  1. Negotiations about your severance package
  2. Information on how the severance package is structured
  3. Files and metrics to help you build your resume & portfolio, if you don’t have these  already

It still can be hard to keep cool in the face of it. If you’re struggling, try to walk away and come back to the conversation when you feel calmer. 

#6: Prepare in earnest

It can do wonders for your confidence. As Emilie did, update your portfolio and get feedback on it. Sit with friends and do mock interviews. Learn from feedback, and prepare in earnest.

A couple of resources to help you do this really well:

  1. ADPList: This is an incredible resource to network, get resume or portfolio reviews or even mock interviews. People are incredibly helpful, so use this resource well. Check out our earlier conversation with Emilie on ADPList hacks here.
  2. Portfolio review: Our Founder, Kritika Oberoi, and Joe Natoli (UX extraordinaire) live review portfolios every few weeks. This article walks you through the good, bad, and ugly of building your own portfolio.
  3. Resume guidelines: Here’s what a winning resume looks like, told to you by someone who has reviewed thousands over 30 odd years.

What to do while job hunting

Once the mourning period is over, you’re back out on the battlefield. Use every avenue possible, and be as public as possible about your job hunt.

#6: Apply where you stand out

Emilie applied to 151 roles during her job hunt, but it wasn’t all random. 

Here’s how you decide where to apply:

  1. Think about your make-or-break criteria. Don’t compromise on something critical to you, or you’ll end up job hunting again in 3 months. Emilie knew that she wanted a senior role that was remote. So she narrowed down her search accordingly.
  2. Apply for roles where you might stand out. If you studied medicine, apply for design roles in BioTech or Healthcare—you have a leg up. If you speak a second language, are there roles where that would be an advantage? Standing out is crucial in the job market today, so lean into your strengths

#7: Gamify the process

It also helps to gamify the process. Emilie used Huntr for example, to visualize her job-hunting journey better.

If she had applied for 5 more roles, or got a rejection from someone—marking it in Huntr helped Emilie feel like she was making progress.

It’s easy to feel stuck in a rut during a job hunt, so gamify it for yourself where possible to keep a sense of momentum going.

#8: Ask for feedback

If you made it through the first few rounds but didn’t make the final cut, ask about it. Ask your interviewer for feedback, about what you could’ve done better.

Treat every interview as a learning opportunity. Even if you don’t land the job, see what you can do better next time. Don’t take it personally. A rejection is not a personal judgment, it just means that you’re not what that company is looking for right now.

Ask for feedback. It can build relationships and give you valuable insights for future opportunities.

#9: Watch out for hiring red flags

The hiring process can tell you a lot about how a company works. Emilie talked about how she once received an extremely late rejection email to her application. It seemed like a red flag about how disorganized the company’s process was. 

You can never assume what’s going on behind the scenes. But unresponsiveness, poor communication, and ghosting can be major recruiter red flags. You might be better off without them.

#10: Don’t spend all your time job hunting

You don’t have to job hunt 24x7. Structure it so you spend a certain amount of time job hunting every day, but you’re not completely consumed by the activity.

Putting boundaries in place will help maintain your mental health and make the most out of a bad situation. 

Unemployment does come with a perk—free time. Are there things you always wanted to do on a Wednesday afternoon?
Guess what, you can now.

BONUS: Tools to optimize your job hunt

There are plenty of cool tools out there to help optimize your job search. 

Emily recommends the following from her time on the battlefield:

  • Huntr: to organize her job applications and visualize the progress made
  • ResumAI: to generate metric-driven resume points. It’s free, and helps you strengthen your resume by highlighting the right statistics.
  • ADPList: for portfolio and interview feedback. You can filter mentors by seniority and request mock interviews, and get feedback on anything. It’s free too.
  • LinkedIn: the grand-daddy of all job hunt resources. Best for leveraging your brand and networking over time.

Here’s a bonus resource from our end - the Looppanel job board for UX-ers! We compile a list of around 40 open roles in UX every fortnight from around the world.

Happily-ever-after is around the corner

It’s easy to feel isolated but you're not alone! Layoffs are all too common, especially in this climate. 

As much as it sucks, it’s not forever. This too shall pass. Everything is temporary.

Emilie landed a role that she’s incredibly happy about today. It’s a great fit, her company is super supportive and she’s doing work that truly excites her.

It’s a happily ever after everyone can aspire to. So just keep at it!

We’re here to help you, every step of the way.

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