You Got Laid Off, Now What?

You got laid off, now what?

woman getting fired

There’s no way to sugarcoat it and nothing fun about receiving the news. But it’s a reality many people deal with at some point. It’s important that you understand how to handle your changing job situation and know what you can do to bounce back from a layoff.

1. Keep your emotions in check.

It’s not advice you want when you’re cleaning out your office and want to cry, rage at your boss, or send off a nasty email to that obnoxious coworker you’ve put up with for the last three years. As much as we all love Harry Potter, now is not the best time to “do a Weasley.”

It’s a small professional world, so don’t burn bridges or throw a temper tantrum that could haunt you on your upcoming job search. Be gracious with others in your office. You need to keep your calm so you can negotiate a severance package and request a recommendation from your boss.

2. Stay positive.

Don’t panic or start thinking the worst when you learn about getting laid off. Instead, think positive thoughts of this as an opportunity to find something better.

This is your chance to score a job that allows you to display your talents, to find a position with higher pay, or to head off on your own as a freelancer or entrepreneur.

That’s not all fluffy talk meant to make you feel better. There really is power in positive thinking—or at least, the ability to avoid the effects of negative thinking. When you think negatively, you’re less likely to see opportunities as they come up or unique solutions to your current problems.

3. Apply for unemployment.

If you got laid off, you can file for unemployment benefits. This can help you get through the period between jobs, and can help your emergency fund or other savings last longer.

You’ll want to do this as soon as possible, because finding a new, paying position immediately after you leave your old job doesn’t always happen. It may take a few weeks or months to find the right job for you—and it can also take a few weeks for your unemployment benefits to get to you, too.

4. Consider your next act.

Remember, this is an opportunity to do something new and different if you choose. You need a new position and will search for a new job; before you do, think about what you want it to look like.

You don’t have to do the same thing you were doing (unless you want to, of course!). Consider what kind of career you want to have and what you need to do now to achieve your goals.

You may want to use this gap in employment to take a few courses or enroll in a training program. Maybe you can spend some time volunteering or learning a skill that’s always interested you.

Depending on your financial situation, this could be the perfect opportunity to turn a side hustle into a full-time business—or to see if you can monetize a current hobby.

5. Check on your resume and online presence.

Before starting to network, looking for new opportunities, or searching for jobs, you need to make sure your resume is accurate, polished, and updated. You also need to check on your online platforms—like a portfolio website, LinkedIn account, and other social media networks—to ensure these display correct and current information. This is especially true if you did decide to add to your education or experience first!

Regardless, it’s easy to let these things slide while you’re employed and not searching for a job. Take some time to spruce up these assets before connecting with potential employers or connections who could provide job leads.

6. Turn to your network for support.

When you’re prepared to get out there and score your new dream job, start with the people who are already in your network. Ask friends and family about potential openings. Talk with colleagues and connections to learn about new leads.

Don’t just ask for favours with your professional network. You can offer to collaborate with them on projects on the side while you look for work, or volunteer to help in other ways. Not only will you get on their radar but you’ll actively prove you can talk the talk and walk the walk.

You’re much more likely for someone in your network to provide you a referral or to set you up with a potential employer if they’ve had experience in working with you in some capacity.

There’s nothing fun about getting laid off. But losing your job doesn’t need to be cause for panic and alarm. With these action steps, you know what you need to do to get back on the proverbial horse and keep excelling in your career.

Megan Broussard

Megan Broussard is a storyteller from New York City. She credits her talent for balancing big hand gestures and a glass of red on her Cajun roots. When she isn’t covering women in career/business, fashion, lifestyle and culture, she’s playing with her pup – the inspiration for her doggy daycare business.