Friday, December 12, 2008

I got the boot

And it's not the lace-up chunky heeled ones I've been coveting. I got laid off from my job yesterday. I totally saw it coming. The agency had lost clients and work many times over since I'd been there, and there had already been a few rounds of lay-offs prior to mine that had left the office space barren and stirred up my suspicions.

So now I'm doing the unemployment thing. It's my first time. I'm an unemployment virgin. If you are too, let me share some tips. I'll give you some personal ones, and then post a link to another site that's all about unemployment. Unemploymentality 24/7.

What I've learned is that being unemployed is very similar to being employed in that you make it what it is. For instance, my attitude towards getting the ax has been very positive. It was a needed change. Advertising has lost a lot of the sexiness and ability to inspire. I could go on in haterade fashion, but that would probably be fairly retarded of me, so 'nuff said. The point is: I was able to see getting laid off as a potential opportunity, etc. This is a good attitude to take when you (perhaps) get the ax too.

Next thing that is helpful to know as an unemployed person is to remember that NOBODY WANTS TO DOLE OUT MONEY TO YOU. You'll find that making your unemployment claim isn't quite as simple as your HR exit interviewer might have made it sound. When I called the number listed on the brouchure of the Cali Unemployment Insurance office, I got a recorded message that told me to log on to the website to make a claim. Then it hung up on me.

Of course (you can probably see this coming) when I went online to file the claim, the error message advised me to call the number that had the useless recorded message.

Annoying. Yes.

But just like at your normal workplace, you're gonna have to extend yourself a little. Find the closest unemployment office and show up in person. This can be harder than expected too. In my case, the phone representative I eventually got through to told me that I wouldn't be able to file the claim in person. It was only possible by dialing the useless recorded message number or by logging on to the site that only gives error messages. And no, she can not file the claim. Not her job. She lied like a rug.

I didn't believe the the hype, and instead took to the streets. I live in the Tendernob directly across the street from Cup-a-Joe cafe, where many unemployed looking types hang out and steal free wifi all day. I figured I'd give the cafe a shot. Jackpot. I simply walked into the cafe, and announced: "I just got laid off. Anybody know where the unemployment office is?"

Ten people raised their hands. It was like they were expecting it. One dude said he'd even escort me there. And when we arrived to the office, the line was quick, and I got the whole thing completed in under an hour.

Plus I made a friend.
Check out more tips at:


TheGirl said...

you are by far, the perkiest unemployed person i know. haha.
way to go on the PMA!

Jeff Flemings said...

Wish I could say I'm surprised you're bringing your insatiable enthusiasm and sense of adventure to this, your latest lifestage.

As well as a can do attitude. And a 'do that can.

I totally get it, I was there, 7 years ago, Friday of the week of 9/11. After about 10 years at Arnold.

My experience afterward was interesting enough for Harvard Business School to write a case for teaching about it.

My strategy was to treat it like any other work project. I kept moving. I met people around town. I did some freelance work locally. The pay wasn't great but my real focus was on keeping myself going, remaining engaged with the industry and my craft.

Believe it or not, some of that work is work I still talk about. And it got me on the cover of AdWeek while I was technically unemployed.

I also did some freelancing at a small agency in a market that's less advertising intensive that found my big agency experience really helpful (and the money was great).

I seized every single moment for exposure I could find. I converted every meeting into a new relationship and productive new contacts.

I found a Monster listing for a job at Digitas, I responded, I was in there interviewing the next day, and 22 interviews and 7 years later, I'm still here.

I love your blog idea. I predict you will get your next gig as a result of attention from your blog. Whaddya think of that?

Pardon me while I creative direct you, but I think it will help to focus the blog. Love the idea of using it as a trading post for essential tips. Fantastic "value" to offer readers.

But I'm sensing a larger opportunity. What about your experience of all this as a creative person. You reaction as a writer? As a consumer? I think you could create a really interesting perspective all this - and get attention for it. If it's constituted around a core theme that has particular relevance right this minute.

Maybe the positive thing is enough. Your headset around this is that it's going to be positive and you're writing a blog to share with the world how your journey through what's traditionally thought of as the valley of death is actually one of the most important things that's ever happened to you.

You are SOOOO getting on the Today Show in March. Can I come to meet Matt?


LeahLuv said...

Guess what??! So did I! Damn, we have so much in common. Kills me that you're not here...

The Good Dr. said...

Been there totally. How do you think I got to be such the freelancer. And the best part aside from making your own schedule and being a jetsetter is how you become very aware of the term "job security." From that point on I never put anything in an office that I can't walk away with at the end of the day. And always carry a hard drive in my bag. you never know when you'll get that email or call saying "your time is up." You always have to look out for yourself, there is no more employee loyalty. That went out with Darren Stevens. But, hey, good luck! Just look at all the great opportunities (and daytime TV/Netflix) await!