Laid off. Crisis or Opportunity?

people walking up a spiral staircase looking out at the future

Managing a job transition successfully

Advice from a UC Dean

This is the first in a new series about a job or career transition in these crazy times.

“Anybody who ever built an empire, or changed the world, sat where you are now. And, it’s because they sat there that they were able to do it,” says seasoned corporate downsizing expert Ryan Bingham (played by George Clooney) in the movie Up in the Air.

It’s a painful reminder that it’s not easy to pull opportunity from hardship. 

There have been more than 8,500 job cuts in the Bay Area since October—primarily affecting workers in tech and biotech—and this week the finance sector began experiencing layoffs as well, just as job gains appear to be slowing.

It’s an emotional roller coaster.

The almost daily announcements of layoffs in Silicon Valley and across the country have me thinking about my own experience of being laid off once and fired once. It is a startling turn of events and very unnerving. It is beyond economics. Whether we like it or not, so much of our identity and social life is tied to what we do all day.

If you’re one of the thousands of people who find themselves in this unexpected situation, especially if this is the first time in your career that you’ve been unemployed in a downcycle, I would like to remind you of a few simple steps to get back on track.

You will get a job.  

In this new series, I’ll focus on ways you can build your career in the midst of a downturn. I can assure you that, done right, you will come out ahead. You will look back at this as a growing-up experience of life. Nietzsche put it well: “Out of life’s school of war—what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.” 

So yes, mourn a little but get started and have some fun while you’re at it.

Don’t miss the opportunity.

The good news is you can always do something to improve your chances of getting a better job. The economy is still positive and many companies are still hiring.

“For every person who has been laid off so far in 2022, there are around eight available postings,” according to Crunchbase. That means you can use this time to refocus and proactively fashion your job hunt. Change is always healthy. It gets you to think.

Don’t forget about all the help that’s out there for you such as our career services professionals at Extension ( and NOVAworks Job Center, which offers a host of services for Silicon Valley job seekers.

“You have an opportunity,” Clooney says to Bob as he’s steering him away from despair after a layoff. “This is a rebirth.”

Coming next…

In upcoming posts, I’ll talk about various facets of each job search phase.

  • The job of getting a job and getting your foot in the door. Getting past the automated filtering systems;
  • Getting past the gatekeeper—typically a phone screening by a human resources person or recruiter; and
  • Meeting the hiring manager and having a great interview.

Be sure to visit our Career Services page, reach out to our Workforce Team for help, and remember that we’re here to support your professional development.

To ensure you get these articles in the future, you can sign up for our newsletter.  We are also planning in-person workshops, both virtual and in-person. Let us know if you are interested!

— Dean P.K. Agarwal, UCSC Silicon Valley Extension


Leave a Reply