Laid-off workers post on TikTok to regain a sense of control

Laid-off workers post on TikTok to regain a sense of control

  • Big tech companies and some startups have announced thousands of layoffs in recent months.
  • To better cope with this, some laid-off workers are posting videos about their experiences on TikTok.
  • Some of them described it as a way to regain a sense of control over their lives and careers.

On a Thursday in August last year, Hayley Bhereur walked out of her office, got into her car and began sobbing.

The 26-year-old marketing specialist had just been fired from her job at a nutrition startup in Toronto. After about 15 minutes of crying, she said, she had an idea: She would record her grief and post the video on TikTok.

Bhereur, who goes by the name of Hayley Rebekkah on social media, had around 5,000 followers on the platform, and she thought they might want to see this difficult part of her life – a contrast to the light-hearted videos of travel and outings with friends that she usually does Splits.

Bhereur’s post, which has been viewed 173,000 times, marked the start of her vlogging about being unemployed, finding a new job and running to help her get through tough times. Bhereur told Insiders that in the four months since the video was posted, she’s landed a new job, gained 30,000 followers and made $10,000 from brand deals on TikTok.

“It’s actually crazy to say that my life has changed completely since I posted this video, but it’s the truth,” Bhereur said. “I was in an extremely vulnerable state. I think sometimes you have to show that.”

It used to be that being fired could feel like a shameful setback, perhaps only witnessed by co-workers watching you carry away your coffee mug and any tchotchkes you might have kept at work. But now, some Gen Z and Millennials are picking up their phones and documenting their layoffs and their journey through unemployment, recording their reactions hours or even minutes after being laid off.

TikTokers have used the hashtag #unemployed more than 560 million times.

These videos make headlines about job cuts. And in some cases, public acknowledgment of a difficult time seems to be helping workers get back on their feet faster.

Several TikTok users told Insiders that sharing their experiences of being unemployed is a form of empowerment — using social media gives them a chance to connect with others, feel less discouraged, and perhaps build a following or progress in their job search close. As layoffs increase in industries like tech, we could see more posts about lost jobs.

“None of the opportunities that came my way would have come my way if I was still in that role, if I hadn’t been fired and if I hadn’t posted that video,” Bhereur said.

A way to connect with others

After Bhereur released her exit video in August, she committed to running every day for the rest of the year and documenting it on TikTok. She wanted accountability and community, and social media gave her that.

“I felt pretty overwhelmed by the kindness,” she said. “I have found community.”

For Jane Yang, a 25-year-old UX designer based in Washington, DC who was fired from a tech startup in November, taking to TikTok to share her story has helped her move on.

“It gives me a sense of control over how I spend my time,” Yang, who has about 15,700 followers on TikTok, told Insider. “It helps me focus on the areas where I want to grow and improve, both professionally and personally.”

Certainly there are a few things to consider before documenting your release journey. TikToker that Insider spoke to said they don’t share private company information or post conversations from their now-former employer. And it’s best not to talk about your employer, they said. Additionally, using social media isn’t the only way to tap into your network to try and land a new role.

A chance to restart a career

Within days of posting her video, Bhereur said she had several informal job interviews and even job offers. She ended up applying – and getting – a job with a Canadian non-profit organization.

But Bhereur said the connections she’s made on social media are priceless. Since then, she has collaborated with brands like Knix and Ugg because of her TikTok.

“I reached out to my community on TikTok, and it’s come to so much,” she said.

Yang, who is still unemployed, said she received more than 20 emails with job offers. Right now, she said, she’s taking time to work on her skills and prepare for her next role.

Jane Yang smiles while walking on the beach

Jane Yang, a 25-year-old UX designer, has been documenting her unemployment since she was laid off in November.

Jan Yang

“If you’re thinking about posting on TikTok, you should,” she said. “It’s a great way to connect with others, and it’s also a great way to create a sort of online journal of your life.”

Neha Khurram, a career coach and talent consultant, said posting on TikTok could be a good option for those who are unemployed and want to build a community around a topic. But, she noted, there are other ways to recover.

“Don’t post about your firing if you don’t want to on TikTok. You can still use the most searched platform by recruiters – LinkedIn,” she said. “When you post about your unemployment on either platform, try to focus on what you want next and what the sabbatical has taught you about your strengths and your next career move.”

Bhereur, who hopes to one day become a full-time content creator, encouraged anyone considering posting about their career setbacks to do so.

“If you’re trying to build a community online that will follow you and support you, I think you have to show the good, the bad, and the ugly,” she said. “You never know what might come of posting about it.”

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