Getting laid off can be stressful for anyone. But getting laid off after decades at a company—when you’re the family’s primary breadwinner—is a truly disorienting ordeal. Jennifer O’Shasky experienced this firsthand in 2018, when she was let go from her business solutions director position at a marketing technology company, an employer she’d served for 22 years.
“I was worried,” Jennifer said. “How would we make it on only one income? Insurance alone could break us. I felt a lot of pressure to move quickly and minimize the impact to my family.”
A self-starter, Jennifer quickly revised her resume and started sending it out. But when she hadn’t gotten any responses two weeks later, she reached out for help from CareerArc Outplacement—a career transition service she’d been given by her former employer as part of her severance package. She was matched with CareerArc career coach Heather.
“We quickly established a rapport,” Jennifer said. “After a layoff, you’re in such a fragile position, in a fragile state of mind. And everything’s kind of chaotic and you’re emotional from what just happened. Heather really just helped create the focus. There were moments where I absolutely needed that counseling and that help.”
Heather took a close look at Jennifer’s resume and recommended a revamp. The fonts and design Jennifer had used were not optimized to get through the automated resume screening processes many companies use today. “Heather also gave me some pointers on how to promote certain aspects of my resume,” Jennifer said. “The content was there, but she recommended moving it around and creating a couple of different sections. Within a week of working with her, I had the new resume pulled together and was moving along.”
From that point, Jennifer met weekly with Heather over the phone, with frequent email contact between those sessions. “For me, it was incredibly convenient, to be able to meet and make progress over the phone and email. I could just spend my eight hours on my computer, looking for jobs and sending out resumes, and then at some point in the day, maybe there was a call with Heather. I didn’t have to get up and get ready to go meet with my coach. I would usually take the suggestions Heather made and implement them as soon as I got off the phone.”
The two worked closely through Jennifer’s entire job search process, addressing issues like ageism, which Jennifer had been concerned about.
“I thought, ‘Hey, nobody’s going to want to hire a 50-year-old woman.’ But Heather gave me all of these really great tips, like not putting dates on the resume and only sharing your last 10 years’ worth of experience. She gave me tips about how to get through that first pass and get at least a phone interview. She said, ‘Nobody’s going to know how old you are from a phone interview. The challenge is getting you past that phone interview then and then getting you in the door.’”
The beginning of Jennifer’s job search sometimes felt discouraging. “It took a while for me to get any kind of traction. I was probably sending anywhere from 10 to 15 resumes a week and I would get no responses. I wouldn’t get inquiries, I wouldn’t get rejection letters, just nothing, a big, black hole.”
During that difficult period, Jennifer’s calls with Heather helped keep up her optimism and momentum. “She would just kind of let me talk about the frustration. Then she would be very encouraging. ‘You just have to keep trying. All it takes is one person to come along with the interest, to change the dynamic and change the course.’ She’d say, ‘Let’s talk about the opportunities you’re looking for. Have you thought about looking for jobs in this direction?’ And she would give me ideas on how to tweak my resume to be able to promote the other side of my experiences.”
Soon enough, the responses started rolling in.
“Heather always made me feel like it was going to happen, that the doors were going to blow wide open at some point. And they did! I had five companies that I was interviewing with all at one time and I was like, ‘You are right. It’s all happening at once!’”
Just four months after her layoff, Jennifer accepted a new job offer as a product manager at Adelman Travel.
“It’s kind of exactly what I was looking to do, and I’m being given lots of opportunities. I was a heavy traveler throughout my career, and now I’m with a travel company. So everything kind of lined up in terms of all of the things that I was looking for… I’m very, very happy and thrilled with the way that things turned out and am truly hoping to spend the rest of my career here.”
Jennifer now encourages former colleagues who’ve also been laid off to take advantage of CareerArc Outplacement.
“I consider myself very lucky, and a lot of it I do attribute back to the support that I got from Heather. I feel like CareerArc, and Heather specifically, gave me a lot of support and a lot of help, to stay positive, to keep going. Being unemployed and being let go is a really painful thing. But looking back on it, it was an exciting time, having that experience of learning how to sell myself again. It was kind of a game changer for me.”
By offering personalized, comprehensive, and convenient career transition services, CareerArc Outplacement helps companies retain positive relationships with departing employees and protect employer brand during a layoff or workforce change. Request a demo today and learn how we can support your workforce’s unique needs.