scorecardI'm an HR executive that was just laid off from Vox Media. I've been preparing for this since my first day on the job.
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I'm an HR executive that was just laid off from Vox Media. I've been preparing for this since my first day on the job.

Jordan Hart   

I'm an HR executive that was just laid off from Vox Media. I've been preparing for this since my first day on the job.
Careers3 min read
In the wake of Vox Media layoffs, Phoebe Gavin, 37, let her LinkedIn followers know that her job had been affected. But, she says that's OK because she'd been preparing to be laid off since day one.    Courtesy of Phoebe Gavin
  • Last Friday, I was informed that I was being laid off from my position at Vox Media.
  • This will be the third time I've experienced layoffs at a company, so I was prepared.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Phoebe Gavin, a 37-year-old former Vox Media employee based in Virginia. It has been edited for length and clarity.

Today is my last day as executive director of talent and development for Vox.com after one year at the company. In our weekly one-on-one meeting last Friday, my direct supervisor let me know that I was one of the roughly 133 of people being laid off at Vox Media.

I come from a low-income background. One of the disadvantages of that is you don't usually learn good financial habits from your parents because those aren't tools that they have.

When I started my career, I didn't know much about saving and investments. I didn't have any savings when I was laid off from my job as a staff writer for a New York-based publication in 2015. It created a real financial crisis for me, and I had to live off of a credit card for a few months.

It felt really cruel. My editor-in-chief at the time asked to speak with me on a Sunday, and she called and laid me off without much information about why or if there was something I could've done better.

Once I landed on my feet after freelancing for a bit and finally securing a new job, I said, "I'm never going to be in this position again."

I no longer believed there was a such thing as job security. Now, I'm always looking for ways to protect myself more during economic downturns and layoffs.

Building my own safety net

I started practicing saving, investing my money, and building my professional network. An introduction by a former coworker helped me score a job after my first layoff. After that, I became diligent about meeting new people, building good relationships, and giving to my network. I wanted to ensure that they would joyfully support me in whatever I needed when the time came.

The second time, in 2020, my job at digital news outlet Quartz was spared, but the majority of my team fell victim to the layoffs. I made it a point to be present and supportive for my departing teammates at that time as best I could. I was the one left behind, and it reinforced that I needed to be on top of my investments, connections, and savings.

I started my career coaching business in 2019 after trying to identify skills I possessed that I could monetize and use to make myself a more marketable candidate. In 2021, I ran it full-time after my time at Quartz and as a side hustle at other moments in my media career.

Making my career fit the life I want

I have always been very thoughtful and strategic about my career moves. Since that first layoff, I've changed how I approach job hunting and my career path.

"What's the difference between the life I'm experiencing now and the one I want to have? How can work help facilitate the life I want to have," I ask myself.

My needs, preferences, and goals have changed as I've gotten older, but I try to keep looking at it with that lens. Now, I'm less concerned about the volatility or the financially viability of a company. It's about what kind of life I'm trying to live.

At the end of the day, there is no job that's 100% secure because companies exist to thrive and drive profits. If there's a group of people whose work is no longer contributing to the survival of the company, they're going to be let go. It doesn't matter how good you were or how hard you worked.

For now, I'm focusing on regrouping before moving on to my next venture because I was prepared to be laid off this time.




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