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Before entering UX writing and content design, I lived through two layoffs in my former career as a journalist.
Both were negative experiences, but it’s interesting to think back to how differently I approached them.
The first layoff, in 2015, was a hard lesson in how we don’t have as much control over our careers as we may think, regardless of our performance.
Afterward, I spent a year freelancing while trying to find a full-time job in the same industry. Throughout that time, I was frustrated, and I doubted myself.
The second layoff, in 2018, pushed me into a career change.
I wanted better pay, more stability, and a healthier work-life balance. I started as a UX content strategist a few months later.
After both layoffs, I needed time to heal.
Still, my experiences during those times taught me these valuable lessons: There’s always a “next,” you can move your life in rewarding directions, and it’s possible to add depth to your professional narrative if you capture and think strategically about the emotions involved.
Tell your story of growth and resilience.
As UX writers, we use words to empower people within the experiences we help create. If a layoff has impacted you, consider using words to empower yourself and share your recovery journey with peers and prospective employers.
Here’s advice I’d share about redefining your career after a layoff.
Document your recovery journey
As we heal from a layoff, it can be tempting to keep so many feelings inside us.
Hurt. Frustration. Embarrassment.
Our first instinct may be to bury those emotions and let them smolder.
Avoid that temptation. Release your story into the world.
Think about what you felt after the layoff and how that influenced your “next.”
Are you exploring paths inside or outside UX writing and content design that you would never have considered without your layoff? If so, how did you reach that point, and what did you learn about the working world?
If not, do you look at the industry and your professional life differently? Did your priorities change?
After a layoff, you may have time to engage with the community more. Write LinkedIn posts. Contribute to UX writing and content design blogs. Speak during workshops and webinars with content professionals. Upload the recordings to a personal YouTube channel.
Keep everything constructive. Don’t write or speak negatively about former coworkers and employers.
Instead, use your past to frame your comeback narrative. View your layoff as your new life’s foundation.
As you share, approach each piece of content you create as a currency that can be used for your benefit later.
When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, personal stories are memorable. Don’t underestimate them—harness their power.
After taking time to heal, and after documenting your recovery journey, put your reinvention narrative to work.
Update your LinkedIn profile and fill it with relevant keywords related to UX writing and content design. Include any content you create about your recovery journey. Add links to your Featured, Experience, and Publications sections. (You can see how I’ve tried to optimize my LinkedIn profile.)
As you consider your next steps in UX writing and content design, pass links to recruiters and hiring managers before an initial conversation. I do this after we’ve agreed on a time to speak. This is a great way to introduce yourself, frame your experiences, and provide background for a discussion.
When addressing your layoff during interviews, consider your conflict and resolution.
What kind of person were you before your layoff? How did you react to an abrupt change in your life?
In what ways, if any, did your perspective about the world evolve? What are your goals now?
Don’t run from any shock or pain.
Capture those emotions. Explain how they’ll mold the new “you” as you evolve as a content designer and a human.
People are drawn to redemption stories. Think about yours, then share it.
Continue to tell your story
Eventually, you’ll develop a new life. There will be new jobs and experiences. With each year, your layoff and everything that came with it will become a distant memory.
Find chances to revisit your pivot.
After regaining control of your career, it’s important to recognize that lessons from a layoff never leave us. They shape the people we become. They affect how we view the world, our priorities, and our existence as employees.
View your recovery journey as a never-ending story. Continue to share links to your content with UX recruiters and hiring managers.
As time passes, spin your narrative forward. What lessons do you carry with you? What advice would you share?
After your reinvention, celebrate what made you this new version of yourself.
Take pride in your story. Be proud of your progress.
- Personal growth for UX writers with Andrew Astleford
- Navigating Content Design Interviews with Andrew Astleford
If you’re a writer in tech who has recently been laid off, we’d love to help you find your next challenge. Let us know.