3 Important Steps To Take When You Get Laid Off

by | Finding A Job, Mental Health

There are few things more stressful in life than getting laid off from a job, so it’s important to be ready to respond if you expect a layoff is coming or have been personally impacted by a reduction in force (RIF).

How do you handle losing your job, what are the side effects, and how do you secure a new role? Plus, do companies even hire laid-off employees, and how long does the average person remain unemployed? Finally, should you disclose the fact that you’ve been laid off?

Keep reading to get your questions answered and learn what to do when you’ve been laid off.

How Do You Handle Being Laid Off?

Taking the first step after being laid off is often the most difficult. Your initial priority after losing your job should be taking care of your mental health and well-being, since you can’t conduct an effective job search if you’re not in the right frame of mind.

It may sound counterintuitive, but consider taking a mental health break before immediately diving into your job hunt.

Importantly, this break doesn’t need to be lengthy, it can be a week or even just a few days to collect yourself and your thoughts before launching your search. However, you don’t want to land an informational meeting or job interview, and then show up as less than your best self.

[Read: “Can I Hire Someone To Find Me A Job?” Answered]

What Are The Side Effects Of Being Laid Off?

While it will only be a matter of time before you land a new role, it’s worth noting that losing your job can be incredibly traumatic and can have negative consequences on your mental health. I share this so that you know you’re not alone.

Some of the most common side effects of being laid off include stress, anxiety, and sadness. Losing your job can also hurt your confidence and self-esteem. This is precisely why you must prioritize your mental health and well-being when navigating a post-layoff job search.

3 Important Steps To Take After Getting Laid Off From A Job

So, what exactly should you do after you’ve been laid off? In addition to prioritizing your mental health and self-care, you also want to develop a step-by-step job search strategy and plan and ask for help along the way as you execute against them.

Let’s dive into each of these steps further:

1. Make time for self-care and self-love before searching.

As mentioned previously, it can be tempting to immediately begin looking for a new job as soon as you are laid off, yet carving out some time for yourself and your mental health can pay dividends down the road. Plus, in the grand scheme of things, a day, a week, or even a month dedicated to self-care and self-love is unlikely to significantly impact your job search or your pocketbook.

Now, how do you spend this time? Try to tap into those activities that fuel your body, mind, and soul, which are different for everyone. This might include:

  • Spending time with family, friends, and other people who matter most to you.
  • Getting outside and moving your body.
  • Reconnecting with your passions and hobbies.
  • Brushing up on your skills.

2. Create a detailed job search strategy and plan.

Action can be a powerful tool to combat the anxiety and fear associated with finding a new position, so set aside time to develop a job search strategy and plan. Here are some of the common steps involved in a modern-day job hunt:

  • Develop a list of target companies that align with your job search parameters and ideal company culture.
  • Identify what sets you apart from other applicants (AKA your fabulousness) so you can stand out in the saturated job market.
  • Identify your career accomplishments.
  • Update and optimize your career documents, including your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile.
  • Set daily or weekly goals regarding the number of applications you’ll submit and networking conversations you’ll request to keep you on track with your job hunt.

Because organizing all of the steps associated with a modern-day job search can quickly become overwhelming, I’ve outlined an easy-to-follow, 5-step process to get you started in my Job Search Launch Guide, which you can access here.

3. Ask for help with your job search.

Finally, the job search is a team effort, so be prepared to ask your friends, family, former supervisors and colleagues, and mentors for help in executing your job search plan. This will not only help you land a job faster but also make the journey less lonely.

When you ask for help, you need to be specific with your ask and not make the recipient do the heavy lifting, since they’re already doing you a favor. This can be as simple as, “I’m interested in senior product leadership roles at hyper-growth startups. Who do you know in similar roles at FinTech companies?”

Jill Katz, founder and Chief Candor, Courage, & Care Officer at Assemble, describes it as focusing the bulk of your efforts on “relationship searching” rather than “job searching.”

“Relationship searching” is increasingly important as you progress through your career since additional jobs are landed by way of networking at the senior management and executive levels.

How Do I Get A New Job After A Layoff?

So, how do you land a new position after being laid off?

Securing a new role post-layoff not only requires a clear mind, but also a defined target for your job search, a concrete strategy, and a whole lot of patience.

Once you’ve tended to your mental health, here’s where you might focus your efforts:

  • Bolster your post-layoff confidence by identifying and documenting your career accomplishments.
  • Spend time clarifying your job search requirements.
  • Update your LinkedIn headline and About section to align with your job search target.
  • Conduct an informational interview with someone in your target role at your dream company.

Do Companies Hire Laid-Off Employees?

Yes, companies hire laid-off employees. In fact, many employers prioritize their recently laid-off staff when making hiring decisions. Additionally, some recruiters will source laid-off workers when filling open roles. Moreover, the COVID pandemic and ‘Great Resignation’ reduced much of the stigma associated with being unemployed.

How Long Is The Average Person Unemployed For?

The average person is unemployed for approximately five months. However, the time of year can dramatically impact how long you take to rebound from being laid off. The holidays, for instance, can be a much slower hiring period for many industries.

Please keep in mind that if you’re searching for a highly technical or executive role, your hunt can be significantly longer, since there are fewer available positions on the market and the hiring process is more rigorous.

Should I Disclose That I Was Laid Off?

No, you don’t need to proactively disclose that you were laid off from your previous role. However, you also don’t want to lie about being terminated, as companies can discover the reason for your departure when they conduct your background check.

Important: As I shared with Fortune, please do not say, “I signed an NDA” unless you actually, did in fact, sign one.

[Read: How To Explain An Employment Gap (With Examples)]

Final Thoughts On Getting Laid Off From Your Job

Remember that you are more than your career. Although it will take time, energy, and effort, you will find a new job post-layoff. You’ve got this!

Here are additional resources to support you as you navigate your job search:

Looking For A New Job? Seven Questions To Ask When Considering A Career Move

“Can I Outsource My Job Search?” Answered 

Reverse Recruiting: What You Need To Know 

20+ Free Career Resources You Need To Know About

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

Dr. Kyle Elliott is the founder and career coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com. His expertise is in Silicon Valley and high-tech. As a result of working with Dr. Elliott, senior managers and executives have landed jobs at Meta, Amazon, Google, and nearly every other tech giant you can imagine.

A trusted career expert, Dr. Elliott’s words have been featured on Business Insider, CNBC, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Fortune, Harvard Business Review, and The New York Times, among dozens of other leading publications. He has been recognized as a Best Career & Interview Coach, Best Resume Writer for Silicon Valley/Tech Managers & Executives, and LinkedIn Top Voice (the platform’s highest honor).

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