Layoff Lessons & Job Search Advice

Put yourself at the center of your career. Put your prospective employer at the center of your job search.

John Kovacevich
3 min readJan 31, 2023


The recent spate of layoffs has been brutal and doesn’t show signs of slowing down anytime soon, especially if you’re in tech, advertising, media, or adjacent fields.

It’s been heartbreaking to read so many posts on LinkedIn from people who were blindsided.

While I wish we weren’t in the midst of layoff-apocalypse, I hope it’s a wake-up call for folks; that it removes the fiction that any company is “loyal” to any individual.

Your employer is not your “family” and nothing can guarantee your employment: not corporate culture, “good vibes,” longevity, or even performance. (This piece from Insider talks more about the “family” lie.)

You are the CEO of your own career. You have to take control, advocate for and promote yourself, and keep your options open.

That means ALWAYS having your portfolio site current and your resume updated. It means cultivating your network when you’re NOT looking for a job. It means sharing and promoting your successes as they happen. It means keeping an eye open for other opportunities and interviewing for the other job, even if you’re happy with your current gig.

In recent years, there’s been a lot of frothy talk about how the workplace should evolve and conform to the needs of employees. And while there have been worthwhile advances, work is still a VALUE EXCHANGE — you provide value to your employer (your work output, how you make the company better, etc.) and they provide value (compensation, benefits) in return.

We should all be more clear-eyed about the value we provide. And we should communicate it in a clear, compelling way — to our current boss as well as the one we may want (or need) tomorrow. Calling attention to your value isn’t egotistical, it’s responsible stewardship of your career.

Job Search 2023

For those of you looking for work, this may or may not be welcome advice…but in this market, your job search is probably not going to be about YOU.

We are emerging from a run of enormous prosperity, where there were more jobs than good people and individuals could make amazing demands.

(I spoke with an agency owner who interviewed a candidate a few months back. The candidate wanted $250K a year, would only work 30 hours a week, fully remote, and wanted to pick her title and decide which projects she did and did not work on. The agency owner said, “Uh…I’d like that, too. If you find that job, let me know and I’ll apply.”)

Given the recent layoffs, especially in the tech sector and those that serve them, power has shifted. Bottom line: employers have more options.

To make yourself a more attractive option, you have to think hard about the VALUE you provide.

If your resume is just a list of projects or client names, that’s probably not enough. What did you DO on those projects? You, specifically…not the project team as a whole. Drill down and articulate how you made things better, more effective, more efficient, faster, etc. If you can quantify it, great. But find a way to talk about the value you added.

And it’s time to take a hard look at your contributions. If you’ve been an “I go to meetings and offer my opinion” person, know that there are a lot fewer of those jobs right now. People who DO and MAKE — that have a specific skill-set and can crank out deliverables — are going to find more opportunities.

Once you’re clear about your value, communicate it through the lens of a prospective employer’s particular need. “I can help you do X, Y, and Z” is better than “Look at my resume and figure out if anything is interesting to you and call me if you want me.”

What every employer is really asking, whether they say it clearly or not, is “What can you do for ME?” Make the answer to that question clear, specific, and compelling.

MORE: Why those “I’m available” LinkedIn posts may not be doing you any favors.


John Kovacevich is a creative director and the founder of Agency SOS. He writes a weekly email highlighting three bits of creative inspiration for modern marketers.