Should you unfollow former coworkers on social?

Today we talk about Work Friend Fallout. What is Work Friend Fallout? Glad you asked.

You spend eight hours a day, five days a week with a set of coworkers and over that time, you get to know them.

Their quirks, likes, dislikes, how they work, what they do on the weekend - for lack of a better word, they become your friends.

So what happens when you’re suddenly out of a job and don’t get to be with your work besties anymore?

Should you reach back out? If so, how? When?

Should you keep following them on social media? Should you unfollow them?

We talk about managing the etiquette, feelings and fallout after you say goodbye to former colleagues and bosses.

Show Notes

So what is Work Friend Fallout, anyway? [0:56]

What happens when you’ve been fired, let go, etc.? How do you manage the fallout with former coworkers and bosses? How do you manage those relationships moving forward? [2:02]

Should you reach back out? Yes. They can still be valuable to you. [2:36]

You never know if the company may want to rehire you. Maybe your work friends will also be restructured (this literally happened to me at the newspaper company) [3:33]

It’s going to be different for everybody and you should process the emotions first, then move forward. Reach out in a grateful capacity [4:49]

How long should you wait to reach out to former work friends? [5:59]

I reach out in two phases. First, I’ll send a thank you note 24 hours after (if I remember their email address) and then reach out again later, after I’ve healthily processed my emotions of being let go.

Warning: Don’t commiserate about being unemployed to your former coworkers. Don’t reach out to find out why you have been burned [7:16]

How you handle being cut out by your coworkers says so much about your integrity overall. Don’t flip a desk in anger [8:06]

Speaking of flipping desks, Facundo and I plan to flip a desk for content for Landing - but we digress [8:29]

Don’t crawl back to a former coworker in desperation… like I did after a few glasses of wine [9:31] 🍷

Get some sleep, then send a thank you email with a fresh mind [10:21]

The next time you reach out after that, should be once you’ve had time to process so that you approaching on neutral territory - like you would any networking contact [10:57]

We’re in the business of helping people now and - fun story - I reached out to my old HR rep at the media company (the one who let me go) for some help with Landing [11:30]

When you are restructured and you say thank you, the people who fired you are not expecting that. What a way to stand out! [12:29]

Facundo shares a time he was let go from a retail job by not being scheduled (he says rostered because he watches too much British TV) and they just sent him his record of employment [13:43]

Where was I? Oh right - my firing manager responded YES! [15:36]

Listen, firing managers have feelings too. They’re just doing their job [16:29]

I try to make my grieving period as short as possible, through meditation, journaling and other self-care [16:50]

There’s no point in being angry and holding on to it [17:37]

Just like any grief, you’ll randomly feel the stings of pain [17:53]

“Being angry is like holding a piece of coal and expecting the other person to get burned.” - Facundo Campos [18:21]

Facundo processes his anger in reverse: he’s fine at first, until two weeks later and then he gets angry [19:03]

I promise I’m not victim-shaming but the world changes fast and are we really doing the best we can? We can’t get too comfortable in our jobs [19:28]

When I first trained in marketing, I was booking newspaper and radio ads, writing headlines and body copy only [20:20]

It’s now also SEO, analytics and more - tech has disrupted all industries so we need to always be on the cutting edge

Reaching back out to former bosses and coworkers can help you build the blocks for the future by asking for feedback. Being told what we need to work on can be difficult, but it’s important [21:13]

Leaning on them is easy because they’ve worked with you so they know you better, plus it’s better than asking a stranger [22:47]

A lukewarm relationship is better than no relationship [23:23]

Be prepared: When doing outreach, you’re also going to get rejected by coworkers. Once you’re gone, the majority might never speak with you again [24:20]

Thankfully, your network’s value is in the quality, not the quantity [25:12]

I once got this response from a former coworker: “Hey, appreciate you reaching out, probably not a good idea to be connected to you.” Seriously? [25:37] 🚫

It’s ok, what goes around, comes around and they may need my help one day in the future… [26:50]

I can’t fault people for looking out for their careers, but this person made my next step easy - I didn’t want to stay connected with them either [28:25]

Many years later I DID have a few people from that company reach out to me for a job at my new workplace and my answer was easy: NOPE [29:15] 🛑

I have room in my life and my heart for many people but not for people who are closed-minded and negativity [30:57]

Accept that not everyone is going to want to keep a relationship going with you and that’s ok [31:38]

You’ll learn that the world moves on without you. I did - especially when I saw my former coworkers’ social feeds, doing all the fun stuff I was no longer a part of [32:26]

Tangent - My favourite line in any marketing conversation is “Just make it go viral” (spoiler: nothing just goes viral) [34:20]

Has Facundo ever unfollowed former coworkers? Yes - and clients whose content he didn’t agree with [34:47]

Your social feed is a reflection of you. Curate it to make yourself happy, even if that means unfollowing people you used to work with [36:10]

Social media is a wonderful tool and something that will absolutely help you get a job (and you need to have some presence vs none) [37:05]

Social is still growing and learning to be what it needs to be. Thank goodness for the Mute and Snooze for 30 Days buttons [38:00]

For mental health, you need to give yourself some time to recoup and when things are better, you can re-introduce people into your feed. Muting is temporary [38:59]

Yes, being on social could lead to higher instances of depression and anxiety, but in the same vein, you can also find wonderful communities of supportive people.

The worst thing you could do is withdraw. Don’t shut yourself off from social media and your support networks entirely. [40:11]

We have to take stock in the effect being let go has on us. Rejection hurts. We suffer when our purpose or self worth is taken away [41:02]

Your self worth is not your job title. Remember that [41:42]

You haven’t really lost any friends, if you think about it [42:40]

At the core of who you are as a person, you still have value. That never goes away even if someone takes your job away from you [43:40]

Miss your former coworker friends? Reach out to them. No reason why you can’t [45:39]

They might be feeling just as guilty, so just reach out [46:06] 😉

So to recap:

Should you reach back out to colleagues and bosses? Yes.

How should you do it? LinkedIn, social media, email.

How long should you wait? Whatever’s comfortable. Send a note of gratitude and a LinkedIn request within 24 hours, then your follow up could be in six months (or once you’ve emotionally moved on.)

Should you follow your coworkers on social? Why not!

Should you unfollow them? If their activity is hurting you, mute or snooze them. Reintroduce when you’re feeling better.

Links & Resources

Your self worth is not your job title, or the amount of time you’ve been on the job hunt

Richard Gawlas