How to Recover from a Layoff as a Product Manager

It finally happened. You didn’t even see it coming, and now you have accepted the reality that you've just been laid off. You know you are going to be fine because it's just not possible that you will not find work again as another Product Manager. After all, this was not your fault. You WERE a good Product Manager. But the bigger question is, “What are you going to do now that you don’t have a job?"

Should you take some time off to travel or reflect? Start networking with your friends and past colleagues? Reach out to other companies in the same industry? While there is no one size fits all solution, we’ve gathered some suggestions from product managers that have been through a layoff to help you survive this difficult period.

Let It Out!

There is no doubt that this is an emotional rollercoaster for you. Your job was taken away from you and you probably have a lot of emotions right now t. Make sure that you let everything out before you move on. Want to cry about it? Sure, cry as much as you can. Want to take a few days off and go somewhere else? Great idea, do it. Now that you don’t have to deal with asking your boss for time off, this might be the best time to take a break. Whatever you do, make sure that your mind is clear and you  take time to deal with all your emotions. Once you come back to reality, it will be all about action. So make sure that you use this time wisely to rest and nurture yourself.

**Note that before you leave everything behind and take a break, make sure that you follow the procedures listed here. These are essential steps to ensure that you leave your company in the best possible way.

Move On

There is no doubt that losing your job makes you lose confidence in. While you know that getting laid off was most probably not because of performance (in fact some research suggests that the first ones who lose their jobs in a mass layoff are the best employees since it’s tough for the company to afford them), sharing this experience with other people and your potential employers during  interviews is tough. You need to get out of that dubious state of mind. One way to leave all of this negativity behind is to write down everything that you are telling yourself that isn’t helping and create a different way to frame the situation. 

For instance, if you’re feeling angry, write it down. Use this feeling as fuel to work hard towards getting out of your current situation. Set yourself ambitious goals and see this as an opportunity to turn an unpleasant situation into a new exciting opportunity. Think of narrative; the time you went from unemployed to newly employed. Don’t let your anger break you, let it make you (or remake you) instead!

Make a Decision

Moving on shouldn’t just be about taking action; it should be about taking the right action. This is a special time for you to reconsider what you really want to do with your career. Now that you have no job to lose and plenty of time on your hands, use this situation as an opportunity to discover your passion.

Start by doing research and reaching out to people in your network. Are you considering product management as your next career path?If you are already a product manager, do you want to pursue a product in your next move?

Although we asked you to leave all of your negative feelings behind in the previous section, we all know that you can’t get rid of feelings that easily. Don’t let your layoff influence how you want to shape your future. If you were laid off as a product manager, you shouldn’t think of yourself as a bad product manager. You just need to find the right company and project that will appreciate your unique product talents.

Take Action

After you set your end goal, make yourself a roadmap or a guide that will clearly summarize how you will get there. For your next Product Manager job, you will need to:

    1. Write, rewrite or edit your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile. Ensure that these three assets are in their best shape and can be used to apply to any job in the product market. If you need a starter guide about branding and  resume building, be sure to check out our product manager resume guide.
    2. Set a daily goal of applications. At Product Gym, we have a proven method of applying to jobs at scale. Our candidates use a single resume and cover letter to apply to all possible opportunities. If you want to learn more about the most efficient way of applying to jobs at scale, make sure you join our free career coaching webinars every Thursday.
    3. Don’t let requirements, years of experience and titles scare you! From experience, we can tell that many of the job postings are merely a copy-paste from another job post. Most of the time, recruiters don’t really know what they are talking about with the required years of experience or talents necessary to do the job. At the end of the day, product management is all about learning on the job and having a progressive mindset. If you have only three years of experience, don’t just apply to associate product manager jobs. Apply to senior PM roles, junior PM roles, and any PM role available to you.
    4. Start small by applying to smaller companies and perhaps companies at other and less popular locations. This is not because we want to send you to smaller companies and locations, but because we want you to have some interviewing experience before you start hunting your actual dream jobs. We call this phase the “dry run”. It is essential for you to feel confident during your interviews before you go after the big fish. You are probably rusty with your interviewing skills and with the influx of people interested in product management, you will face serious competition. Therefore, it is essential for you to get into your best interview shape.  Read How to Market Yourself as the Ultimate Product Manager  to learn how  to polish your pitch and product manager persona before your interviews.
    5. Don’t let rejections let you down! Our members, even the most successful ones, get tens of rejections before they see an offer. This is natural and it happens to EVERYONE! You are not alone and so don’t let it get to you. Note that while rejections are inevitable, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be prepared for your interviews. Read our ultimate guide to product manager interviews to learn what kinds of questions to expect at every round of interview.
    6. Don’t say bad things about your old company during your interviews. Yes, you were laid off but negative statements about your last role, especially during your interviews, can really make a dent in your personal brand and credibility. Here’s an article on how to talk about losing your job during job interviews.
    7. Make sure you land multiple offers before you make a final decision. We are very serious about this as we witnessed multiple instances where the candidate’s offer was rescinded for ridiculous reasons. So don’t stop interviewing until you have a solid plan B and C.

Stay Motivated

Losing your job isn’t an easy event to digest. Any rejection you might be facing during your journey might hinder your motivation and momentum, but don’t let it happen! (and believe us, employed or unemployed, our members receive tens of rejections before they get a call for an interview—so don’t take anything personally) . Here’s our motivation playlist, with useful tips directly from Product Gym members:

  1. Don’t EVER get emotionally attached to a position you applied to. Every now and then you see a position that you are really interested in and believe you are the best possible candidate on planet earth. Once you get a rejection, even for an interview, your dreams and hopes are shattered and you lose the will to fight. This will cause you to miss other exciting opportunities that might come your way. Take the rejection as an opportunity to make yourself better and move on.
  2. Take quality breaks, spend quality time with loved ones and find a way of winding off your stress. You are not a robot and you cannot possibly spend a whole week applying for  jobs and interviewing. You need breaks and you need time with your loved ones. Now that you have more free time in your hands, take this opportunity to try things that you always wanted to try, but never had the time.
  3. Don’t let stress take over your mind, body, and soul. It’s hard to see the future when you don’t have a stable job and can’t support yourself financially. But remember, true product managers handle uncertainty and stress like pros. Use this as an opportunity to learn to deliver tangible results while managing stress and uncertainty.
  4. Do some quality reading. If you are following us on social media, then you know how much we love our #FridayReads section, where we suggest an effective personal growth book every week. They are carefully crafted after the suggestions coming from our team and our members. We recommend Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday as we believe that it will change the way you perceive your lay off and your mindset. We also LOVE this TED Talk by Mel Robbins that will get you pumped up in no time!
  5. Tune into your motivation playlist! While everyone has a different taste in music, a morning session with Kanye or Drake might be a great way of getting out of bed and preparing yourself for the day.

It’s Your Time to Shine Champ!

It’s hard to believe that this might be the time that you will pull the GREATEST advancement in your career but from past experience, we can tell that the best success stories we saw came from people who were in a similar situation. Well, if you don’t believe us, research done by Harvard Business School (you can’t go wrong with that, can you?) shows that a whopping 45% of 2,600 leaders that they interviewed went through a major blow-up or a layoff and 78% of them eventually made it to the CEO role. The case study is full of motivating numbers if you are interested in reading further. So don’t let this misfortune put an end to your career and instead prove everyone—be it your previous company or all those that rejected you—that it’s their loss that they didn’t hire you as their future product manager! If you need more guidance along the way, we will be there to support you.

 

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