Laid off from work? Use that experience to build strength

Ahadi Kenya Trust Director Stanley Kamau (right) gives foodstuffs to teachers who lost their jobs due to Covid-19 effects.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Hard work births success, so we are told, but the world is not so black and white.
  • Everyone, including the rich and powerful, fails.
  • The difference between them and some of us is that they face pitfalls head on.

We are brought up to be positive, to contemplate the best-case scenario in every situation and dismiss the possibility of unfavourable outcomes.

Hard work births success, so we are told, but the world is not so black and white.

Everyone, including the rich and powerful, fails.

The difference between them and some of us is that they face pitfalls head on.

I was recently laid off and it hit me just how unprepared I was to cope with the situation. I have read that more than one million Kenyans have lost their jobs this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, so this is a matter that most adults are likely to face.

With life set to serve you with rejection in college admissions and job applications, you would expect it to be a priority that children are taught how to deal with failure.

Our education system has come up short in this department. We are taught how to apply for our first jobs, but never how to reply to our first rejection letters.

Learnt to cope

I learnt how to cope with and respond to this disappointment quickly this year. First, I thanked my employer for the opportunity. This was my first job in my entire life, and I had a chance to learn something from it. This was also the only reference I was ever going to have for future jobs. 

Secondly, I asked why I was being let go. After I had overcome my shock and hurt, I wondered why I could not be the one they retained.  I needed to know whether there were skills that my colleagues had that I lacked so that I could go improve on them.

With a plan on what I could amend for my skills, I asked for a recommendation from my superiors.

Thankfully, I got it but if the recommendation was denied, I was ready to ask whether my employer would put in a good word for me should my next potential employer call them about me.

It was important also that I maintained civility in my communication during this process. An emotional outburst, even when justified, will either create or cement negative feelings towards you.

Lastly, I learnt to have faith in my abilities. If I worked hard on being a better professional, then losing a job should not be a reflection of what I am able to do.


Laura, 19, is a first-year communications student at Strathmore University.

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