What To Do When You Get Laid Off From Work: A Full Guide

Figuring out what to do when you get laid off from work can be a challenge. You're suddenly in a completely different situation than you were the day before, and the emotions from this shakeup certainly don't make things any easier!

What to do when you get laid off from work

This list will help you learn what to do when you get laid off from work, so you can bounce back and find a new position that's right for you.

1. Understand Your Severance Package

Severance packages, while not guaranteed, are common if you've been laid off (it all depends on the company). They’re usually offered when positions or jobs are eliminated entirely or when budget cuts force companies to downsize. 

These offers often undergo intense legal review, and there’s usually little room to negotiate. But even still, it’s important that you fully understand the severance package before signing anything. Packages may come with strict stipulations about what you can do next.

It’s also important to remember that signing those severance package documents could prevent you from taking action if you feel that the layoff gives you a legal claim.

It’s wise to take some time to review the contracts and details of the package. Don’t be afraid to contact a lawyer specializing in labor law if something raises a red flag.

Even if you feel comfortable accepting it, ensure you fully understand what it includes and what signing any contract entails.

2. Compile Information on Past Projects, Tasks, and Assignments

If you get laid off, your next course of action should be gathering past and present work information. Layoffs often feel like they're happening out of the blue. You might hear rumblings around the water cooler, but they usually come with very little time to prepare.

That leaves your work in limbo. Past projects likely no longer belong to you from a legal standpoint, but they can come in handy when building a portfolio. Gather information about the work you’ve done, and you can reference that data later during your job search.

It’s also a good idea to create documentation about the types of assignments you do and what tasks you’re responsible for completing. Start taking notes about your time on the job while you’re still there. That way, you’re not struggling to remember your responsibilities in the middle of a job interview for your next endeavor.

3. Determine What You Want to Do Next

Getting laid off from work can create a whirlwind of emotions, and you’ll likely have one question stuck in your mind: What should I do next?

Take time to cool off so you can make your next moves with some mental clarity. Many people going through the emotional rollercoaster of a layoff will grapple with a mix of anger, fear, stress, and more. This is normal, but don’t let those emotions affect your decision-making going forward.

When you’re level-headed, reevaluate where you are in your career and where you want to go. Did you enjoy this position? Were you happy with what you were doing before you were laid off, or did you really wish to pursue something else?

Layoffs can sometimes end up being a blessing in disguise. It’s an excellent opportunity to explore other avenues or pursue the next stage of your career. Many people get comfortable in a job and don’t take steps to move forward.

This experience could be your chance to climb the career ladder or chase a dream you thought was once out of reach. Be practical, but don't be shy about taking an honest look at what you want to do next.

4. Research Jobs and Salaries

If you get laid off, there’s a good chance it’s been a while since you entered the job market. Things change fast, so don’t assume things are the same as they were a decade ago. Approach your job search from the standpoint of someone entering it for the first time.

That means doing ample research about your field. Look at what jobs are available and see what you qualify to do. Then, dig deeper to understand current salaries.

Who knows? You might find that your experience and qualifications open up more opportunities than you thought possible. Perhaps your years at your now-former position gave you the expertise to pursue leadership or executive roles.

Research salaries to ensure that you’re applying for jobs that match or surpass what you made at your former job (assuming that's a priority for you). The goal is to move up and use this layoff as a jumping-off point to something bigger and better.

5. Don’t Keep Your Job Search a Secret

No one likes the idea of getting laid off from work. There’s an unfair assumption that being on the wrong end of a layoff means that you weren't important. That’s not necessarily true, and there’s no shame in entering the job market.

So don't make your search a secret. Why? Being vocal about your efforts leads to more visibility. With more visibility comes a greater chance that opportunities will come your way.

Everyone knows about the importance of networking, and you likely have solid connections with people at other companies in your field. Those people can’t help unless they know you’re actively searching for employment!

Keeping your search a secret does you no favors. All it takes is the right person to know about your situation. They could refer you to a company that ends up being your next gig!

6. Plan and Practice Your Pitch

Make the most out of every moment you have when you get laid off. It’s fine to focus your thoughts and get your head in the right space, but don’t take too long to start getting into the mindset of a job-seeker.

Start developing and practicing your pitch. When we say "pitch" we're talking about the answer to “what do you do”, “what are you up to these days”, or “tell me about yourself?” Your answer will explain what makes you a compelling candidate for whatever job you pursue. Searching for a new job requires you to “sell yourself.”

It’s about knowing what you can bring to the table and what makes you an excellent candidate. What skills will help you succeed? What have you done at your former job that makes you worthy of consideration for employment?

Dig deep and reflect on your career thus far. Then, create a pitch that will leave a lasting impact.

Don’t wait until the day before a job interview to run through this. Practice your pitch repeatedly to gain confidence and know what to say when searching for a new job.

7. Know How to Explain Your Layoff

One of the biggest challenges you’ll face during your job search is the inevitable question regarding your layoff. Potential employers want to know the details and understand why you separated from your previous company.

There are many ways to explain why you were laid off from work, but honesty is the best policy. Hiring managers typically don’t hold layoffs against job-seekers, but they will inquire about it.

Practice your response. Know how to explain the layoff clearly and concisely. Any amount of hesitation or a lack of confidence could raise red flags.

Whether it be restructuring, budgetary constraints, or relocation issues, be clear about why you were part of the layoff.

Layoffs happen all the time, but it’s up to you to create a confident explanation for your separation.

8. Look for Opportunities to Volunteer

Unfortunately, it can take some time to find a job after getting laid off.

But instead of sitting around stressing about the job search, consider volunteering. Look for volunteer opportunities in your area. Organizations are always looking for help, and you can spend your time doing something positive.

Volunteering can get your mind off the layoff and help you do some good in the world. Plus, all that experience can pad your resume. It’s also a good discussion point when future hiring managers ask about what you did between jobs.

9. Update Your LinkedIn Profile

Remember to take some time updating your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is among the more influential professional social media networks on the web. Having an updated profile is paramount in today’s job search.

Hiring managers use LinkedIn all the time! Not only do they use it to network with others and connect with potential applicants, but many will use it to learn more about candidates before an interview.

Failing to update your profile can lead to many missed opportunities. You might use LinkedIn sparingly, but you should use it to your advantage if you get laid off from work. Refresh your profile to let others know you’re seeking new opportunities.

Then, reach out and continue building relationships. Make yourself visible by commenting on posts and creating connections inside companies that interest you. If there's an opening you're interested in, you can learn about them quickly and message a decision maker about a potential job.

10. Update Your Resume

In addition to updating your LinkedIn profile, freshen up that resume!

Most people don’t touch their resumes after gaining employment. Why would you? It’s primarily used to show your qualifications to potential employers.

Now is your chance to dust off the old resume and make it current. You’ve likely learned many new skills and gained more qualifications since you last used this document. Refresh it and cater it to your current job search.

Don’t just add new line items. Review the entire document and always use achievements instead of responsibilities. Focus on the qualifications that matter most, and fine-tune every element to ensure that your resume conveys the right accomplishments for the jobs you are targeting.

11. Join or Form a Job Search Accountability Group

Being laid off isn’t easy, and it affects people in different ways. Some go into panic mode, letting the stress take over. Others get complacent being at home, falling behind on their job search.

Whatever the case, the period between getting laid off and landing your next job can get dark. It’s a reality of the situation, and you must work hard to keep yourself accountable.

Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone!

There’s a good chance you weren’t the only person that was laid off. You likely have colleagues in the same boat as you. Why not form a group to hold one another accountable during your job search?

These groups can make a world of difference. They help you stay connected with your former coworkers and create a never-ending supply of much-needed motivation. Use these groups to stay in the right mindset, talk about your hardships, and work together to identify opportunities.

It’s good for your mental health and ensures you don’t fall into that ugly cycle of complacency.

12. Talk to Your Family

When you go through a layoff, it’s not just you who has to make sacrifices. Your family is along for the ride as well, and they probably share many of the same stresses you do.

Have an open, honest discussion with your family. Don’t do it just one time. Keep the dialog open throughout your job search.

Communication is key to helping you manage this difficult time. Not only that, but it sets expectations across the board.

Talk with your partner and children about what’s going on and how it’ll impact the entire family. Be honest, and don’t skirt the truth. Getting laid off is an unfortunate part of life and a valuable lesson for everyone to learn from.

Ask for support when you need it, and give it back in return. Everyone’s in this together, and you’ll need your family’s help to get through this just as much as they need yours. Ensure that everyone understands their role in this process, keep them updated on your job search progress, and work together. 

You’ll make it out of this, but you must communicate to ensure your family stays strong.

13. Build Lists

Earlier, we mentioned that being vocal and open about your job search can make a difference.

But you don’t have to wait for opportunities to mention that you're looking for something new. You can be proactive and reach out to individuals who might have help to give.

Build lists of the individuals and companies you can turn to during your job search.

Create a list with all your contacts (friends, family, past colleagues). Reach out to them all because you never know who may have connections that could benefit you. Look through your LinkedIn profile, consider old colleagues, and connect with anyone who might have an opportunity worth exploring.

You can also list companies you want to work for in the future. Include companies in your field, those you have experience working with in the past, and those that pique your interest. 

Creating these lists when you've been laid off from work will help guide your search and keep you organized.

14. Cut Unnecessary Expenses Immediately

Even with a severance package, finances can get tight if you've been laid off. It’s one of the biggest challenges you and your family will encounter during this process. Take control as soon as possible.

Look at your budget and cut unnecessary expenses immediately. Your family will need to help with this step. It’s not easy, but it’s a conversation you need to have.

Depending on your situation, everyone might need to make some sacrifices and look for areas where they can save. That could involve pausing date nights for a while, cutting back on entertainment services, or getting groceries from a more affordable store.

Remember to consider the expenses that will increase after your layoff. For example, you might have to pay for health insurance. It won’t take long for your savings to deplete if you don’t take action to save money.

For many of us, being frugal and saving as much as you can will make the process of navigating a layoff much easier. Adjusting to this period of frugality can feel strange, but it’s only temporary until you land your next job.

15. Create a Weekly Plan

When you’re suddenly laid off from work, your entire world changes. Not only are you faced with a lack of employment, but your schedule is suddenly open. That’s often the most shocking part of the experience and can cause you to feel lost.

You can combat the effects of that change by setting an agenda. Create a routine you can stick to during your job search. Consider modeling it off your former work schedule.

Try to get up at the same time, spend a specific number of hours reaching out to your network, learning new skills, responding to job postings, volunteering, meeting with colleagues, and more. A schedule will hold you accountable and ensure you’re doing all you can to find another job.

16. Learn New Skills

You can use this time after your layoff to develop new skills that will help you stand out. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to improve your time management skills or learn a new software tool. You can find low-cost or even free courses online, at your local community college, or library.

Using some of your available time to improve your skills shows initiative and dedication. It also gives you something to talk about during the interview when they ask what you’ve been doing since your last job ended.

17. Learn to Say No/Stay Focused

Unfortunately, some people inadvertently take advantage of all the time off you now have. It usually doesn’t come from a place of malice, but it can hurt you in the long run.

Suddenly, people will come to you with favors. Your family might ask you to do things more often, and your chores list will become longer.

As hard as it might feel, learn to say no.

You might not be working, but you must spend your time working toward your future. Applying for jobs can be a full-time gig. It takes a lot of time, and those favors and chores only serve as a source of procrastination.

Focus on the task at hand and get comfortable saying no.

18. Accept That It Might Take Some Time

Finally, understand that it will take time to get a new job. The quicker you realize that it's rare to find a new job immediately, the better off you’ll be.

It can take several months to get a new position. It’s a slow process, and you must keep your eyes on the prize. 

Stick to your schedule, prioritize your physical and mental health, and never stop your search. It might be tough, but you’ll eventually get your next job and continue your career.

Closing Thoughts

Now that you know what to do when you get laid off from work, it's time to start progressing through this list. Take a breath, assess your situation, and hold yourself accountable during the job search.

You'll find a new position before you know it!

The post What To Do When You Get Laid Off From Work: A Full Guide appeared first on Career Sherpa.