*Taps mic* “Is this thing on?”
Well, I guess it’s time to dust off this here platform I’ve created and give the people what they want.
Who am I kidding? “The people” consist of my mom, husband and tiny army of friends that I force to look at memes I endlessly tag them in on Instagram.
In the essence of keeping things casual, I’ll just rip the band-aid off.
On June 20, 2017, I was laid off from my job as a Content Marketing Strategist for a family-owned textile company. In turn, one of the first things I did post-layoff was create this website. I needed a space to showcase my professional work, resume and let’s be honest … a person who’s seeking employment in digital media needs a personal website … it’s kind of part of the gig. Also, as a content creator I find enjoyment in having a platform that I can call my own. Essentially, I'd like to also use this space as a creative outlet for my random thoughts, interests and experiences (I promise the rest of my posts won't be this long).
Before going any further, I want to give a shout out to Matt, my ever-so-patient husband who woke up at 5 a.m., stood in the middle of streets/woods and took the photos you see on this website, all while I played Beyoncé from my phone and pretended to be a model. Matthew, you are true a gem and I don’t know how or why you put up with me, but am so thankful that you do. Second, a huge thank you to the talented Shannon Pratt, a former co-worker and graphic designer who magically edited these photos (in less than 24 hours) to make people want to hire me. JK, but seriously.
Some of my friends and family know what’s been going on in my life in the last few months, but for those who are still in the dark, allow me to shed some light on the subject.
I left my job at NASCAR.com in Nov. 2016, seeking a better work-life balance. I’m incredibly grateful to have started my career with that organization and to have learned from whom I believe are some of the best content creators. The work ethic I developed there is something I hope to carry with me forever.
In search of a balance, I landed in an eight to five, Monday through Friday job. My new role was to run the company’s five social media accounts and to create a direct-to-consumer website for the organization’s fabrication business. I’ll save the details for when I saw the “writing on the wall” for a different post, but let’s just say I felt like I was boarding a sinking ship from Day 1.
A couple weeks before my layoff I texted my husband and two of my best friends, “There are rumors of layoffs going around. To be honest, I hope it’s me.”
Like I said, I’ll put aside the “here’s how you know you’re not in a good work place” story for another day.
Sure, it was awesome to not work weekends or late nights anymore like my role at NASCAR demanded of me. I was introduced to the concept of “lunch breaks” at the new job, which was cool. But deep in my heart I was craving a challenge for the entire seven months I was with the company. I missed the satisfaction I previously felt in my career and was struggling to find enthusiasm for my work. In this whole process I learned that for me to be truly happy, I need a career that I am passionate about.
So, when the company’s Human Resources director came to me three minutes after I had sat at my desk on that Tuesday morning and asked me to follow her, my first thought was, “Can’t we just do this right here?”
As I walked into her office, I rolled my shoulders back and said to myself, “OK, Taylor. This is it. You got this.”
The HR director and CFO then gave me a short spiel on how the company no longer viewed social media as valuable and that they cut its plans on building a direct-to-consumer website.
Essentially, my position was eliminated.
The next thing I did was return to my desk, quietly grab a couple personal items and walk out the door. My former boss followed me out and we chatted briefly in the parking lot. She made it clear that she didn’t support the decision and would be an advocate for me any day.
As I sat in my car in the parking lot, my first phone call was to Matt. Without hesitation, he said he’d be home for lunch to keep my newly, unemployed-self company.
Next, I texted my best friend in Charlotte, Kyle. “Are you off today?” He responded, “Yup!” I called him. To blow off some steam, he invited me to a work out class he was going to that afternoon.
Then, I texted one of my childhood best friends, Jessie. “Are you off today?” She responded, “I am!” I called her on my drive home.
After I hung up, I thought to myself, “It’s kind of miraculous that two of my closest friends are both off work and free to chat on the day I need them the most.”
Kyle and Jessie were the two that I had previously texted about the “rumors of layoffs,” so it wasn’t a complete shock to them. Instead, they went straight to being the insanely supportive and hilarious people that I love them for.
The rest of the day was a bit of a blur. I can’t remember what I did during that work out class or what I ate for dinner, but I do remember feeling a spark of drive I hadn’t felt in months. I was given four weeks of severance, which was nice, but reality quickly hit that it was going to be up to me to take the reins of my career and forge ahead.
Before the day was over I had decided that it was important to keep the routine that I had developed in the last few months. Just because I didn’t have a job to go to, I was determined to continue to wake up at 5 a.m., work out and hack away at a daily to-do list I would make for myself the night before. The early makings of my list would look something like this:
- Job search
- Gather content for website
- Build website
- Grocery store
It might seem silly to remind myself to eat lunch, but this helped me keep a sense of work flow normalcy. I was terrified of getting too comfortable (and I also needed items to fill up my list because I get great satisfaction from crossing things off).
In the first two weeks of being unemployed, I told just two other friends that are in my same career field, but then there were those random run-ins I had with a few former co-workers where they would ask how things at the new job were going. I am a terrible liar so I’m sure my face would contort when I would painfully say, “Oh, it’s good! It’s definitely a change from NASCAR, blah, blah, blah.”
It wasn’t that I was embarrassed of the layoff. I knew I had given that role everything I had and felt I did my best with the resources I was given, but at the end of the day, they wanted to take their business in a different direction. My reason for staying silent about my situation in those following weeks was because I didn’t want the sympathy or the sad eyes. I was trying to pull my career together as quickly as possible and I was afraid the unwanted condolences would send me into a pity party that I couldn’t make my usual Irish exit from. I just wanted to move on and explain the details later. And sorry, mom, but your worrying gives me anxiety.
In week that followed, I spent my days scouring nearly every job board for my next opportunity. I had a couple phone interviews, one with a big corporation and one with a smaller agency. Neither of which wanted a second interview, but getting the experience to talk to such different companies helped me to see what I was looking for in my next organization.
During this time, there was a week-long sailing trip to the British Virgin Islands that 23 of my closest family and friends and I had been planning for about a year. I went on the trip with the intent of not letting my layoff consume my thoughts. I wanted to have the best time possible and try to enjoy one week of no to-do lists or pressure of refreshing my email every hour to see if I’ve gotten any bites on the job applications I had so feverishly fired off prior to leaving.
I am human, so of course I thought about my layoff every damn day of that trip. It’s hard not to when those who don’t know about your situation are complaining of having to go back to work post-vacay and all I could think to myself was, “I wish I had a job to go back to.” To those people, it is OK. I would have complained, too.
We got back from vacation on a Saturday night. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t check my email the second we landed back in the states. I was disappointed to see that my inbox was full of nothing but Amazon messages asking me to review all the bathing suits I had recently purchased.
I kept my spirits up and on Monday morning I called my recruiter. Because she had placed me in my previous role, I reached out to her Day 2 of unemployment to get the job search rolling. Unfortunately, she had no new leads since we last spoke and this was incredibly disheartening.
This felt like the lowest point in my layoff. I was feeling guilty for taking a week off of job searching only to come home to find no one was interested in me. Was it time to start looking for dog walking jobs? (No offense to dog walkers. DREAM JOB) My mind was racing with anxious thoughts. When Matt got home from work that evening he could already tell something was wrong. Having a live-in partner is great for times like these. He listened to my late-night emotional spiral of worrying that no one would ever hire me, and then woke up the next day to a fresh start, giving me grace with no questions asked, no judgement passed, and probably breakfast.
This is when I felt the tables start turning.
I knew that a positive company work culture was a key factor for me to be happy. After I had spoken to my recruiter that Monday, I spent the rest of the day applying to as many jobs that fit what I was looking for. I came across a job posting from a commercial real estate company with the position, “Marketing and Content Coordinator.” I just needed to submit my resumé and portfolio, simple enough. I quickly hunted down the company's social media accounts. I needed to see if I could identify a sense of the organization's culture. After stalking all of its social pages, my millennial detective work uncovered that these people genuinely liked each other and enjoyed the work they were doing. I know, I know, "things on social media aren't always how they seem," but in fact, the work they were doing even excited me and I don't know the first damn thing about the commercial real estate industry. I just knew that being connected to the city that I love and live in would feel so satisfying. I sent over my resume and portfolio immediately.
The next day I received a phone call from the company's HR manager to coordinate an interview. The process moved quickly and I was offered the position on July 19.
The role is fast-paced, creative, challenging and so far, extremely fun. I'm happier than ever in both my personal and professional life and feel like I've finally found a balance that works for me.
I don't regret a single part of the last nine or so months. I feel like I needed it. Sometimes getting your stable world rocked puts things into perspective. This situation taught me a lot about myself and what I'm capable of. It gave me confidence to go after what I was deserving of and humility to keep me grounded in the process. I learned that life falls apart and that's OK, but you can't waste time feeling sorry for yourself when things unravel. Instead, keep your head up, roll your shoulders back and tell yourself, "You got this."