I Was Laid Off From a Small Tech Firm. Here Is How I Got Over It.


  • Hanna Matyiku-Nuñez was laid off from her job as a marketing manager at a small tech firm in 2021.
  • She developed resentment toward her tech colleagues who got laid off from bigger companies.
  • Matyiku-Nuñez realized she needed to be open and vulnerable to get through her layoff.

In November 2021, I found myself arriving early to the tech-layoff boom. I was laid off from my marketing position at a small startup most people had never heard of. I was also eight weeks into a six-month maternity leave. 

No publication picked up the news. There wasn’t a dialogue on Twitter about it, and if I didn’t tell people, no one had to know. With the lack of brand cachet attached to my job loss, I developed a bitterness toward people laid off by better-known companies.

 If you lost your job at a major tech company, you could blame the narcissistic CEO. Plus, many of your “safe” former coworkers would share your name and résumé with their networks, describing you as the smartest, the best, a person anyone would be lucky to have. In my mind, this meant the enviable perks of working for a tech giant continued even after a layoff. 

People who were laid off from Big Tech companies had their stories shared broadly on LinkedIn, and they were added to special lists — and networking groups. I thought I coveted the brand notoriety, but in hindsight, it was the visibility I wanted.

To become more visible during my layoff, I needed to be more transparent. I now realize my resentment came from a deep desire to be real during the hardest moment of my career.

It’s a challenge to authentically exist in the corporate world

Since my company’s layoffs weren’t covered by the press, it was up to me how I presented myself to hiring managers, but I’ve always struggled to show vulnerability and authenticity in a business setting

In my early 20s, I changed the way I dressed. I also adopted a more direct writing style in emails, then later started adding emojis and exclamation marks so I didn’t come across as too harsh. I even subconsciously altered my voice to adopt a deeper tone so no one could accuse me of upspeak — think more Kourtney Kardashian than Elizabeth Holmes — and I didn’t realize my voice had changed until my mom pointed it out one Christmas. 

It’s taken years for me to dismantle these behaviors. I realized the people I admired and gravitated to brought their authentic selves to work. I wanted to be one of them, but to be real, I had to break down my work persona — and eventually, I did.

I started talking more like myself instead of relying on corporate jargon. In meetings, I forced myself to ask questions when I didn’t understand something. And, hardest of all, I allowed for moments of vulnerability when balancing life and work became too hard.

Now, years into my career and newly laid off, I wanted to rebuild my work persona so no one would see that I lost my job for reasons outside my control. I wished for everything to be in the open, but I hated the idea of making a formal announcement on Linkedin.   

Eventually, I used my network, much like the laid-off workers from larger companies 

I gave myself until March 2022, when my severance ended, to attempt to exist like I was on my planned maternity leave. Then, four months after getting laid off, I started looking for a job. I thought my network wouldn’t help me make any new connections, but I was wrong. I’d spent months processing my layoff and focusing on my newborn. So when it came time to start looking for jobs, I was ready to open up a little.

I applied to dozens of jobs via career portals. The only response I received was the automatic email reply after submission. I quickly turned to former managers, colleagues, and friends, asking them for referrals to all the major tech companies. The executive team that laid me off scheduled calls, made introductions, and supported me in my job search. 

My severance ended at the end of March and I was working in a new role by June. It was the very executive who delivered the news of my layoff who introduced me to a recruiter at the company I now work for.

The truth is, during layoffs, everyone is faced with their own new reality — and it’s terrifying

When I was laid off, my days were spent applying for jobs or thinking about how I should be applying for jobs. But, rather than joining the conversation and openly talking about my situation, I turned inward. Later, I dehumanized people in the same situation I was in because they were more open about their own layoffs.

I pictured their journeys as a straight shot from A to B because they came from bigger companies. I thought they weren’t struggling to start conversations with their network or struggling to be seen in a pool of applicants. In my mind, they went from sharing the news of their layoff to starting a new job with no mess in between. 

I now realize the shame of being laid off kept me from being open, and later drove me to layoff resentment. Zooming out, my situation was relatively comfortable. I had a generous severance, a partner with an income that could support our family, and no fear my joblessness would affect my immigration status. But what I didn’t have was the peace that can only come with being open.

It’s a hard time to be in tech. It seems everyone has experienced a layoff, has survived one, or lives in dread about what could be, but it was only through openness and vulnerability that I got through my own layoff.


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