Jun 6, 2024

How to go from a layoff to your new dream role

Creator of Dive

Product designer @ Duolingo

~6 months ago Amy Lima was laid off 😔

At that moment I asked her to document every part of her job hunt process to create a playbook that others could follow.

For months I’ve been excited to share her success story and it’s finally here :)

Amy landed a job as a product designer at Duolingo!

Here's what she did in her job hunt that I found most interesting 👇

She prepared in advance

Amy’s biggest piece of advice is to prepare for a layoff even if there are no signals. That way you can hit the ground running if sh*t hits the fan.

It doesn’t need to be some massive website/case study overhaul.

Amy just created a simple deck showcasing her recent work that she could easily pass along to someone in a DM.

That allowed her to act quickly once she received the news 👇

She didn't waste her announcement post

Posting a flippant “just found out I’ve been laid off 😩” message on social media is a wasted opportunity.

This is your smoke signal and you only get one chance to nail it.

Amy’s announcement post is a case study in what it looks like to mobilize your network and create momentum post-layoff.

Look at the engagement 👀

She didn’t go viral by accident either.

Amy made a genius move by listing out specific ways that people could help her in her announcement post. She asked people to:

  • comment for reach

  • write Linkedin recommendations

  • share advice

  • share job postings

  • etc.

“Closed mouths don’t get fed” — Amy Lima

She put in some practice reps

In the beginning of her hunt, Amy strategically cast a wide net so that she could gather as much data on her interviewing materials as possible.

The more reps you put in, the more areas you’ll identify for improvement, and the more confident you’ll become with your pitch.

Then go after the companies at the top of your list.

She took notes obsessively

Amy took notes after every conversation and organized them in a giant database broken down by company and interview stage.

Some of the questions she was asking herself:

  • What did I not expect to get asked?

  • Where did I get tripped up?

  • How could I have improved this answer?

  • What did I forget to say?

  • Where did people ask clarifying questions?

  • etc.

She then answered them in writing immediately after the call while the material was still fresh. Over time, this written record highlighted areas for improvement and led to smoother interviews.

She asked for feedback

At the end of each conversation Amy would ask a simple question:

“How did this go? Was there anything you felt was missing or off?”

Too many designers are afraid to ask their interviewers for feedback before hanging up on the call. Not only is this a great source of learning but it’s also an opportunity to fill any gaps via email.

I didn’t do this when interviewing for Maven. Luckily the cofounder hinted that he would’ve liked to see more visual design work and I was able to send over more examples after our chat. If not, failing to ask for feedback might’ve cost me my dream job.

She asked for interviews after the offer

I’ve never considered asking for additional interviews after receiving an offer… but Amy says she does it every time.

And it makes sense the more that you think about it.

Especially if you’re working at a larger company, once you know the exact team you’ll be joining this is a great opportunity to meet more of the people you’ll be working alongside day-to-day.

So far, Duolingo (and other companies) have been enthusiastic and accommodating for Amy. So you shouldn’t be afraid to ask either.

She leaned into her personal story

Amy opened each interview by saying “I’m going to tell you a story about the person beyond the pixels”. She then talked about her hobbies, why she got into design, her first-generation upbringing growing up with immigrant parents, etc.

Everyone has work to talk about but it can get lost in a sea of applicants with similar backgrounds and work profiles.

Your story is unique and there’s always something specific to you that can resonate with people and make you memorable.

I even chatted with the design recruiter who has hired the last 100 designers at Duolingo. She says she clicks on your portfolio’s about page before viewing your work 👀

She negotiated her offer

Amy used Levels’ salary negotiation product that pairs you with a coach to help you navigate the whole process (another thing she’s done for all of her roles).

“It’s not only fine that you negotiate, but also an expectation”

She learned why balance is necessary

The reality is in this market you’re probably looking at more of a marathon than a ~3 week sprint.

So don’t come out of the gate firing on all cylinders.

Amy admits that she wasn’t intentional with time management in the beginning. She was applying like crazy and saying “yes” to every opportunity even if her gut said it wasn’t right.

“’No’ just wasn’t in my vocabulary at first. But then you realize you could’ve saved yourself a dozen hours and been less frazzled, less panicked, and less overwhelmed” — Amy Lima

Eventually she had to take a full stop break in order to clear her head.

Because if you’re exhausted you’re not going to show up as your best self during an interview.

Pace yourself.

She learned to save work that didn't ship

I recently went through a Reddit thread where senior designers shared mistakes they made earlier in their career.

The number one mistake? Not saving all of your work.

Designers typically save things that ship and have measurable business impact.

But Amy’s advice is to save your graveyard files and all of the messy explorations that you don’t think you’ll need.

Because as it turns out… there was a very specific moment in her journey where she didn’t have what she needed because her designs never made it to production.

“Unshipped products are just as if not more valuable than shipped products… because sometimes your most ambitious work doesn’t ship and you want to be able to talk about that”

More strategies for turning a layoff into a dream job

If you’re looking for your next role, then this conversation is quite the playbook.

Amy has the job hunt process down to a science and there’s a ton we can learn from her journey.

Listen on YouTube, Spotify, Apple, or wherever you get your podcasts 👇

~6 months ago Amy Lima was laid off 😔

At that moment I asked her to document every part of her job hunt process to create a playbook that others could follow.

For months I’ve been excited to share her success story and it’s finally here :)

Amy landed a job as a product designer at Duolingo!

Here's what she did in her job hunt that I found most interesting 👇

She prepared in advance

Amy’s biggest piece of advice is to prepare for a layoff even if there are no signals. That way you can hit the ground running if sh*t hits the fan.

It doesn’t need to be some massive website/case study overhaul.

Amy just created a simple deck showcasing her recent work that she could easily pass along to someone in a DM.

That allowed her to act quickly once she received the news 👇

She didn't waste her announcement post

Posting a flippant “just found out I’ve been laid off 😩” message on social media is a wasted opportunity.

This is your smoke signal and you only get one chance to nail it.

Amy’s announcement post is a case study in what it looks like to mobilize your network and create momentum post-layoff.

Look at the engagement 👀

She didn’t go viral by accident either.

Amy made a genius move by listing out specific ways that people could help her in her announcement post. She asked people to:

  • comment for reach

  • write Linkedin recommendations

  • share advice

  • share job postings

  • etc.

“Closed mouths don’t get fed” — Amy Lima

She put in some practice reps

In the beginning of her hunt, Amy strategically cast a wide net so that she could gather as much data on her interviewing materials as possible.

The more reps you put in, the more areas you’ll identify for improvement, and the more confident you’ll become with your pitch.

Then go after the companies at the top of your list.

She took notes obsessively

Amy took notes after every conversation and organized them in a giant database broken down by company and interview stage.

Some of the questions she was asking herself:

  • What did I not expect to get asked?

  • Where did I get tripped up?

  • How could I have improved this answer?

  • What did I forget to say?

  • Where did people ask clarifying questions?

  • etc.

She then answered them in writing immediately after the call while the material was still fresh. Over time, this written record highlighted areas for improvement and led to smoother interviews.

She asked for feedback

At the end of each conversation Amy would ask a simple question:

“How did this go? Was there anything you felt was missing or off?”

Too many designers are afraid to ask their interviewers for feedback before hanging up on the call. Not only is this a great source of learning but it’s also an opportunity to fill any gaps via email.

I didn’t do this when interviewing for Maven. Luckily the cofounder hinted that he would’ve liked to see more visual design work and I was able to send over more examples after our chat. If not, failing to ask for feedback might’ve cost me my dream job.

She asked for interviews after the offer

I’ve never considered asking for additional interviews after receiving an offer… but Amy says she does it every time.

And it makes sense the more that you think about it.

Especially if you’re working at a larger company, once you know the exact team you’ll be joining this is a great opportunity to meet more of the people you’ll be working alongside day-to-day.

So far, Duolingo (and other companies) have been enthusiastic and accommodating for Amy. So you shouldn’t be afraid to ask either.

She leaned into her personal story

Amy opened each interview by saying “I’m going to tell you a story about the person beyond the pixels”. She then talked about her hobbies, why she got into design, her first-generation upbringing growing up with immigrant parents, etc.

Everyone has work to talk about but it can get lost in a sea of applicants with similar backgrounds and work profiles.

Your story is unique and there’s always something specific to you that can resonate with people and make you memorable.

I even chatted with the design recruiter who has hired the last 100 designers at Duolingo. She says she clicks on your portfolio’s about page before viewing your work 👀

She negotiated her offer

Amy used Levels’ salary negotiation product that pairs you with a coach to help you navigate the whole process (another thing she’s done for all of her roles).

“It’s not only fine that you negotiate, but also an expectation”

She learned why balance is necessary

The reality is in this market you’re probably looking at more of a marathon than a ~3 week sprint.

So don’t come out of the gate firing on all cylinders.

Amy admits that she wasn’t intentional with time management in the beginning. She was applying like crazy and saying “yes” to every opportunity even if her gut said it wasn’t right.

“’No’ just wasn’t in my vocabulary at first. But then you realize you could’ve saved yourself a dozen hours and been less frazzled, less panicked, and less overwhelmed” — Amy Lima

Eventually she had to take a full stop break in order to clear her head.

Because if you’re exhausted you’re not going to show up as your best self during an interview.

Pace yourself.

She learned to save work that didn't ship

I recently went through a Reddit thread where senior designers shared mistakes they made earlier in their career.

The number one mistake? Not saving all of your work.

Designers typically save things that ship and have measurable business impact.

But Amy’s advice is to save your graveyard files and all of the messy explorations that you don’t think you’ll need.

Because as it turns out… there was a very specific moment in her journey where she didn’t have what she needed because her designs never made it to production.

“Unshipped products are just as if not more valuable than shipped products… because sometimes your most ambitious work doesn’t ship and you want to be able to talk about that”

More strategies for turning a layoff into a dream job

If you’re looking for your next role, then this conversation is quite the playbook.

Amy has the job hunt process down to a science and there’s a ton we can learn from her journey.

Listen on YouTube, Spotify, Apple, or wherever you get your podcasts 👇

~6 months ago Amy Lima was laid off 😔

At that moment I asked her to document every part of her job hunt process to create a playbook that others could follow.

For months I’ve been excited to share her success story and it’s finally here :)

Amy landed a job as a product designer at Duolingo!

Here's what she did in her job hunt that I found most interesting 👇

She prepared in advance

Amy’s biggest piece of advice is to prepare for a layoff even if there are no signals. That way you can hit the ground running if sh*t hits the fan.

It doesn’t need to be some massive website/case study overhaul.

Amy just created a simple deck showcasing her recent work that she could easily pass along to someone in a DM.

That allowed her to act quickly once she received the news 👇

She didn't waste her announcement post

Posting a flippant “just found out I’ve been laid off 😩” message on social media is a wasted opportunity.

This is your smoke signal and you only get one chance to nail it.

Amy’s announcement post is a case study in what it looks like to mobilize your network and create momentum post-layoff.

Look at the engagement 👀

She didn’t go viral by accident either.

Amy made a genius move by listing out specific ways that people could help her in her announcement post. She asked people to:

  • comment for reach

  • write Linkedin recommendations

  • share advice

  • share job postings

  • etc.

“Closed mouths don’t get fed” — Amy Lima

She put in some practice reps

In the beginning of her hunt, Amy strategically cast a wide net so that she could gather as much data on her interviewing materials as possible.

The more reps you put in, the more areas you’ll identify for improvement, and the more confident you’ll become with your pitch.

Then go after the companies at the top of your list.

She took notes obsessively

Amy took notes after every conversation and organized them in a giant database broken down by company and interview stage.

Some of the questions she was asking herself:

  • What did I not expect to get asked?

  • Where did I get tripped up?

  • How could I have improved this answer?

  • What did I forget to say?

  • Where did people ask clarifying questions?

  • etc.

She then answered them in writing immediately after the call while the material was still fresh. Over time, this written record highlighted areas for improvement and led to smoother interviews.

She asked for feedback

At the end of each conversation Amy would ask a simple question:

“How did this go? Was there anything you felt was missing or off?”

Too many designers are afraid to ask their interviewers for feedback before hanging up on the call. Not only is this a great source of learning but it’s also an opportunity to fill any gaps via email.

I didn’t do this when interviewing for Maven. Luckily the cofounder hinted that he would’ve liked to see more visual design work and I was able to send over more examples after our chat. If not, failing to ask for feedback might’ve cost me my dream job.

She asked for interviews after the offer

I’ve never considered asking for additional interviews after receiving an offer… but Amy says she does it every time.

And it makes sense the more that you think about it.

Especially if you’re working at a larger company, once you know the exact team you’ll be joining this is a great opportunity to meet more of the people you’ll be working alongside day-to-day.

So far, Duolingo (and other companies) have been enthusiastic and accommodating for Amy. So you shouldn’t be afraid to ask either.

She leaned into her personal story

Amy opened each interview by saying “I’m going to tell you a story about the person beyond the pixels”. She then talked about her hobbies, why she got into design, her first-generation upbringing growing up with immigrant parents, etc.

Everyone has work to talk about but it can get lost in a sea of applicants with similar backgrounds and work profiles.

Your story is unique and there’s always something specific to you that can resonate with people and make you memorable.

I even chatted with the design recruiter who has hired the last 100 designers at Duolingo. She says she clicks on your portfolio’s about page before viewing your work 👀

She negotiated her offer

Amy used Levels’ salary negotiation product that pairs you with a coach to help you navigate the whole process (another thing she’s done for all of her roles).

“It’s not only fine that you negotiate, but also an expectation”

She learned why balance is necessary

The reality is in this market you’re probably looking at more of a marathon than a ~3 week sprint.

So don’t come out of the gate firing on all cylinders.

Amy admits that she wasn’t intentional with time management in the beginning. She was applying like crazy and saying “yes” to every opportunity even if her gut said it wasn’t right.

“’No’ just wasn’t in my vocabulary at first. But then you realize you could’ve saved yourself a dozen hours and been less frazzled, less panicked, and less overwhelmed” — Amy Lima

Eventually she had to take a full stop break in order to clear her head.

Because if you’re exhausted you’re not going to show up as your best self during an interview.

Pace yourself.

She learned to save work that didn't ship

I recently went through a Reddit thread where senior designers shared mistakes they made earlier in their career.

The number one mistake? Not saving all of your work.

Designers typically save things that ship and have measurable business impact.

But Amy’s advice is to save your graveyard files and all of the messy explorations that you don’t think you’ll need.

Because as it turns out… there was a very specific moment in her journey where she didn’t have what she needed because her designs never made it to production.

“Unshipped products are just as if not more valuable than shipped products… because sometimes your most ambitious work doesn’t ship and you want to be able to talk about that”

More strategies for turning a layoff into a dream job

If you’re looking for your next role, then this conversation is quite the playbook.

Amy has the job hunt process down to a science and there’s a ton we can learn from her journey.

Listen on YouTube, Spotify, Apple, or wherever you get your podcasts 👇

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Join 10,000+ designers

Get our weekly breakdowns

"There's no doubt that Dive has made me a better designer"

@ned_ray

Join 10,000+ designers

Get our weekly breakdowns

"There's no doubt that Dive has made me a better designer"

@ned_ray

"

I've been binging Dive Club lately and the quality is nuts

Literally the only show about design I watch”

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"

I've been binging Dive Club lately and the quality is nuts

Literally the only show about design I watch”

Eugene Fedorenko

hello@dive.club

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