Getting Fired: What I learned from getting laid off from my first full-time job

by Allison Calabrese, Founder and CEO at CareerKeeper

When I graduated from college in 2010, I felt lucky to get a job right away. After all, the country was in a recession and hiring was pretty slow.

However, a year and a half into the job, I was called into my director’s office for a meeting and suddenly found I was being let go from my position. 

The whole time, I kept thinking to myself, “How is this happening? I am too young to get laid off.” I was 23 years old and I was let go from my first full-time job. 

I kept picturing that TV image of someone leaving their office holding a cardboard box after being let go.

I was in shock. I felt like I had failed.

When I got back to my cubicle, I quietly packed up my belongings from my desk, sent a farewell email to coworkers, dropped off my badge, and headed for my car in the large corporate parking lot. 

Between receiving the news and packing up my stuff, I don’t remember much. I was trying to hold it together as much as I could.

I was nearly halfway home when I finally broke down into tears.

By the time I got home, my older sister called me. She had heard the news. Talking with her at that moment gave me all the assurance in the world. Her calm demeanor. Her positive outlook. And mostly her “let’s do this together” attitude. 

She told me what I had to do now was to write down everything I could remember about my work that I could use to demonstrate my experience and track record. 

She stayed on the phone with me, encouraging me as I tried to remember one by one all of the projects, awards, and any other wins that I could think. After this exercise, it was like a wave of confidence that came over me. 

By the next day, I had uploaded my new resume on all of the major job websites.

By the following week, I heard back from a handful of recruiters.

By the third week, I had my first in-person interview in the city.

Just one month into my job search, I started my new job at Coach in New York City. 

I learned that it wasn’t about the format of my resume or some fancy fonts; what got me the job was the story behind my resume. My stories gave me confidence. They held value and proved I had what it took to do the job even if I didn’t meet all of the job requirements.

I would go on to work for other interesting companies and even got let go a second time but I was always prepared with my stories. 

Throughout the next several years of my career, I learned more about other workplace challenges people faced like imposter syndrome, the gender gap, and lack of employee development and recognition.

I would see my fellow female coworkers struggling to speak up about their accomplishments, apply for opportunities where they didn’t meet 100% of the requirements, and who would stay put and unhappy in their current job because they felt it impossible to find another one.

With this information, it was clear we needed to speak up more for our accomplishments yet there wasn’t a good one way to do it.

I was determined to find a better way to help people overcome this so they could keep growing in their careers and feel more confident in their experience.

With some sketches and my big idea, I founded CareerKeeper, a private work win tracking platform, to empower people to reclaim their confidence and speak up for their experience, just like how my sister had supported me. 

CareerKeeper is a place where you can add not just track your accomplishments and other work wins, but also match them with future job opportunities to help you confidently demonstrate your track record and get you your next job.

Try it for yourself. Sign up for your 14-day free trial with CareerKeeper!


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