How burning a work bridge leads to better opportunities.
If being laid off is the corporate version of a sucker punch, mass termination via form letter is more like a round of carpet bombing. A few years ago, AOL informed me that my “engagement for content services” was no longer needed in a company-wide email that addressed me as “Hi There.” Emboldened by visions of financial ruin, I composed a scathing essay that ran on a popular humor website.
“Are you sure you want to burn that bridge?” asked a concerned friend. “You’ll never work with them again.” He had a point. Conventional wisdom says that trashing an employer is bad business. Rather than piercing AOL’s armor, it’s possible I’d only dent my own. What if I came off as an entitled crybaby, suspiciously interested in workers’ rights only after getting rejected? But when the piece went live, commenters cheered me on, and my bitter words were picked up across the internet. Surprisingly, freelance job offers piled up in my inbox—good ones. After years of lowbrow “content creation,” I’d fired back and, in the process, gained respect as a serious writer.