How Did You Get Laid Off?

Real workers share their layoff stories

You got laid off and now you're unemployed -- so are 13.7 million other people.

Several of Greg McGunagle's family and friends were among these laid off workers. He started hearing horror stories about how they were let go and began to notice a trend: Few companies are good at executing layoffs.

"So many companies are just awful at [the actual execution of] the layoff. Businesses are trying to survive, so there are also a lot of terrible stories surrounding severance and benefits," McGunagle says. "I thought people likely [had] a very difficult story to tell. Wouldn't it be great to create a forum for people to tell their layoff story?"

And so the idea of was born. The site joins the ranks of many other unemployment blogs as a place where people can go to cope with being jobless and share their woes with others in the same position.

"[It] gives people a place to vent and share their story about being laid off. It also lets people know that there are others out there going through the same thing [or] in some cases, much worse," McGunagle says.

Here are six true stories from real laid off workers, excerpted from*

1. Go back to your desk - if you get an e-mail, you're laid off

I worked for a large telecommunications company for about 10 years when my team, along with several hundred other employees, was called to an 'important meeting.' We were told by conference call that we were being outsourced to a telecommunications software provider. The contract being signed indicated that, if anyone was laid off within the first year, we would get our old company's severance payment. After that, we would get the new company's [payment, which was less]. In early February, an e-mail invitation to another 'important meeting' was sent out on a Sunday afternoon for a Monday morning meeting. At the meeting, a vice president read a three-page prepared statement, [which] indicated that, due to a drastic cutback in work from our client, layoffs would be necessary. We were to go back to our desks. If we received an e-mail, we were being laid off. The layoffs were effective one year and one day after the outsourcing agreement took effect, saving them hundreds of thousands of dollars in severance. - Greg

2. An administrative error

My husband was laid off while waiting to complete his chemotherapy treatments. He had been on unpaid medical leave from his employer since March 2008. They extended his leave, by certified letter, to October 31, 2008. On October 14, 2008, his employer cut five staff members from his department by commencing layoffs. On December 1, 2008, he received a letter from his employer [that said] "Due to an administrative error, your employment is terminated effective Sept. 5th, 2008. We are sorry we did not send you a letter." - Anonymous

3. Wait for a phone call

I was working in the PR department of a company that produced trade shows. Times were tough for the company, losing shows and attendance, etc. Everyone knew what was eventually coming. The day finally came when the big boss man called the entire company into the main lobby and made his announcement. In short, he told everyone to go back to their cubes and wait for a phone call from their respective bosses. As I was sitting in my cube ... the phone rang. I was called into my boss's office with another person from my department and was given the 'bad' news. We had a few minutes to pack up and leave. - Scott

4. While on vacation...

I was on vacation in Florida and called my boss one day because we had a big project launching and I wanted to make sure all was cool with it. He told me that he was happy I called because the company had been sold. He didn't want me to have to come into an empty office when I got back as we had all been laid off. Nice mindset to be in when you're on vacation, right?

It gets worse: The director wanted me to come home from my vacation early to transition my position to someone in India. I told him no, that I was taking the rest of my vacation time (an additional week) and when I came back I would help with the transition and that I would be billing them for my time as a contractor. - Ciaran

5. Welcome to New York -- you're fired

It was a rainy spring morning last May when I officially moved into my new, overpriced shoebox-size studio apartment in New York City. My former financial firm had transferred me to the new office there. I walked into work that morning to see my ex-boss, who worked out of the main office 5,000 miles away, sitting at my desk. I knew right then -- no more paycheck. One hour later, I found myself walking home with my box of office belongings and added it to my unpacked boxes in my apartment. - Anonymous

6. Placing blame

I worked for a nonprofit ... one of my main jobs was to help volunteers sign up and prepare for overseas trips to third-world countries. My boss planned a volunteer trip to Africa; more specifically, to a region he was from and had plans to vacation in after the official trip. This particular area had just made the news due to a recent increase of violent outbreaks. Regardless, he took a group of elderly men and women into this war zone, all because he wanted his vacation time. They never made it to their destination; the plane was rerouted to a neighboring country because it was too dangerous.

The family members of the volunteers called the office nonstop, wondering what happened and how could they get in touch with their families. My boss neglected to set up any kind of emergency system or emergency phone number to reach anyone. Families were desperately trying to get information and my boss disappeared off the face of the planet. He came home and blamed me for not having information for the families of the volunteers. - DDaryl

Jon Gordon, who lost his job during the crash, says that although it's hard initially, your layoff can actually lead to a bright future with the right course of action. Now a bestselling author, Gordon shares these tips to help you change your career outlook:

1. Jettison your anger. Allow yourself to be angry, sad, bitter, upset for a few days and then let it all go. Forgive the company. Forgive your employers. Release the bitterness. Know that you can't create your future by focusing on the past.

2. Start each day with questions. When you get up each morning, ask yourself this one question: What are the three things I need to do today that will help me find the job and create the success that I desire? Then, take action on those three things every day until you've achieved them. This is a great way to keep feeding your positive energy.

3.Take on a positive approach to the recession. Today's employment-related statistics can be hard to get out of your head when you're searching for a job. But unlike the pundits on TV who seem all too pleased to focus on the most negative numbers available, you can choose to focus on the flip side, Gordon says. Rather than fixating on 8 percent unemployment, focus on 92 percent employment.

4. Be humble and hungry. Know that you don't have all the answers and can learn something from everyone, Gordon says. Know that there are always new ways to learn, improve and get better. Be open to advice. Be open to learning a new skill and trying a job you haven't thought of before. Also, be hungry: Seek out a mentor, take him to lunch and model his success. Think of his life as a blueprint you can follow. Continuously improve and seek out new ideas and new strategies.

Your Turn!

Have your own lay off story? Tell us about it! Submit your story in the comments below. We'll pick our favorites to feature next month.

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*Stories have been edited for grammar, language and length. has the right to republish posts and owns all content submitted.

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