Many of us have experienced being laid off, and it is an inevitable part of our working lives. Layoffs are a common occurrence, driven by various factors ranging from economic conditions to seasonal requirements or cost-cutting measures.

The experience of being laid off differs significantly from quitting a job. While quitting is a voluntary action within your control, being laid off is typically beyond your control, as was the case during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Perhaps it is one of the most traumatic experiences you’ve encountered in your professional life. John Lees, the UK-based career strategist and author of “How to Get a Job You Love,” asserts, “It’s a rejection — the company is saying, ‘We don’t need you. We can manage without you.’ It feels personal.” Yet, on the flip side, it can lead to positive outcomes. Priscilla Claman, president of Career Strategies, advises, “Try to think about it as an opportunity that’s ultimately going to do you some good.”

Indeed, a layoff may present the chance for a fresh start. Whether your layoff is temporary or permanent, it is crucial to take the appropriate steps afterward to safeguard your mental health and ensure success in finding a new job.

In this blog, we delve into how to bounce back from this stressful situation and prioritize your mental well-being during this challenging time. We’ll also discuss the essential steps to take to navigate the situation and secure a new job successfully.

What to do immediately after being laid off

1. Make It Official:

Request a ‘Laid-Off Letter’ from Human Resources. Your job has been terminated for reasons beyond your control. A layoff letter provides factual information and serves as a document for prospective employers. It is a crucial component of your Goodbye package. Carefully review the letter for any errors or omissions. If it contains inaccuracies or fails to acknowledge your accomplishments, politely request a revision.

If the company did not provide you with a layoff letter, be sure to request one. This document serves as proof that you were part of a group reduction in size. Additionally, ask for recommendation letters from your previous employer. These two steps are essential for ensuring a successful job search in the future.

2. Understand The Documents That You Have To Sign

The documents provided upon being laid off are not solely focused on final pay. They may also contain clauses that restrict your legal rights, such as working for another company in the same industry or discussing your former employer.

Understanding the contents of these documents is crucial. By reviewing them carefully, you can negotiate terms and avoid unintentionally violating them. Investing a couple of hours in this process is far preferable to getting embroiled in a legal dispute later on.

For instance, consider the case of a woman who signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) and was subsequently laid off. It was later discovered that the documents prohibited her from working for competitors for two years, essentially hindering her ability to find employment in her field. While her HR friend assisted her in drafting an email to request the clause be waived, resulting in the former company’s acceptance, such favorable outcomes are not always guaranteed. Therefore, taking proactive steps to prevent such situations is highly advisable.

3. Collect Your Final Pay Cheque And Severance Pay

Make sure to verify the amount of your pay-cheque and ensure that all deductions are accurate and in order.

4. Pause For A Few Days

Take a deep breath and give yourself a day or a few days to process this shock and let go of any anger. Making sound decisions about your future becomes difficult when you’re overwhelmed by negative emotions. Avoid burning bridges with your previous employer, especially if you’ll need references for new opportunities. There’s always time to address any unresolved issues later, perhaps a year or two down the line. You’ll be grateful for taking your time and not rushing into decisions about it. Take a break, go hiking, go camping, seek out meditation, go to a yoga class, and get out of your head.

Remember to remain confident. Being laid off doesn’t reflect on your skills or worth; it’s often a result of factors beyond your control, such as company restructuring or economic conditions. You’re resilient and capable of navigating this challenge. If you’re feeling down, engage in activities that lift your spirits, whether it’s yoga, meditation, cooking, art, or listening to music. Focus on your mental health and well-being. Combat negative thoughts with positive affirmations, such as:

• I trust that I made the best decisions with the information I had at the time.
• I did my utmost, and that’s commendable.
• I have valuable skills and qualities to offer, and I’m proud of who I am.
• I believe everything is unfolding as it should, and I’ll find the perfect job for me.

Maintain a positive mindset as you embark on your job search, as negativity can be sensed by recruiters and hiring managers, affecting your chances of success.

5. Share with Your Loved Ones and Supportive Friends

Reach out to your family and friends. Moral support is crucial in this situation. When you feel comfortable, be open with your friends and family about your job situation. You don’t have to disclose all the details. Feel free to set boundaries if you find they’re asking too many questions. Remember that you’re going through a tough time and it’s essential to surround yourself with people who uplift and support you.

If you’re married, communicate with your spouse. Don’t isolate yourself. There’s no shame in circumstances beyond your control. If you have children, prepare them for temporary budget limitations and how it might affect their lifestyles. Let them know they’ll have more time to spend with you as well.
Do whatever you can to seek support from your loved ones.

You may also consider reaching out to your former colleagues. Woodruff-Santos says, “What you have is an opportunity and a new chapter that is starting in a way that you didn’t control.” Reach out to your colleagues who have been laid off. Woodruff-Santos suggests having a drink together and engaging in further conversation, either in person or virtually.

6. Review Your Budget And Your Financial Situation

Apply for unemployment insurance benefits immediately. Following that, create a budget plan aimed at paying off high-interest debts, such as credit cards. Additionally, strive to minimize your expenses to the essentials. Refrain from making significant purchases and seek ways to save money. Consider starting by canceling any subscriptions.

Next Step: Establish the Plan

1. Write Down Your Achievements

Create a list of your achievements using the STAR method to assess your skills. This method helps you recognize your capabilities and boosts your confidence. It also assists in quieting negative thoughts about yourself and the job-hunting process. Additionally, consider using the CARL method to list your achievements, which stands for Context, Action, Result, Learning.

Moreover, preparing these achievements will equip you for behavioral interview questions. Having them ready enables you to respond effectively when the interviewer asks questions such as “Tell me about a time you solved a difficult problem, reached a goal, learned a new subject, dealt with a challenging situation,” etc.

2. Recognize Your Goals

It is essential to review your goals and assess if they align with those you had while working at your former company. Are you interested in working for a small or large company? Are you open to relocating? Do you contemplate a career change? Would you consider returning to school to pursue a new field? Perhaps you envision embarking on a new chapter as a business owner. Think creatively and explore all opportunities that complement your skill set.

Take the time to identify what is truly important to you. These are your values, and understanding them is crucial for finding a fulfilling job.

Furthermore, seize this opportunity to identify your talents and passions. What is your life’s mission? Establish a personal purpose statement to guide you in identifying where you can best utilize your strengths.

Avoid desperation in your job search. While you may feel vulnerable after being laid off, it’s important to prioritize your happiness and success in your next role. For instance, your values might include working for a company that values you, collaborating with colleagues who prioritize positive outcomes, and being surrounded by individuals who show respect. You might accept a job that doesn’t fully align with your values, but remember that staying in such a position could eventually lead to disengagement and frustration, potentially affecting your mental well-being if it doesn’t lead to conflict first.

3. Craft Your Layoff Narrative

Now is the time to develop a compelling explanation for your layoff, which you can share with your professional contacts and potential employers, according to John Lees. It should be concise, objective, and impactful, portraying you as proactive rather than a victim of circumstances. Lees suggests a statement such as: ‘Following extensive restructuring at my former company, I’ve taken the opportunity to reassess my career direction. I am now seeking opportunities in XYZ.’ This approach swiftly transitions from past to present to future aspirations in just a few sentences,” notes Lees. Layoffs are a common occurrence and widely understood in the professional world.

4. Make Some New Daily Routines

You’ve found yourself with a lot of free time, so make the most of it. While your top priority remains finding a job, you now have additional free time at your disposal. It’s a perfect opportunity to consider reading that novel you’ve been eager to start, volunteering in the community, or simply spending more time outdoors walking around. Remember not to neglect your usual daily routines, such as showering or exercising. Taking care of your mental health is crucial during this period. Stay informed about current events, engage with your community, and strive to improve yourself personally.

5. Create A Job-Hunting Schedule

Creating a weekly or daily schedule will keep you on track. Determine when you’ll network and how many people you’ll talk to, which days you’ll search for viable jobs, how often you’ll redraft your resume for the jobs you’re interested in, and how often you’ll practice answering potential interview questions. Creating a schedule and setting your intention and a goal for each day will help you feel accomplished, like you’re moving your job search forward, even if you’re not getting traction right away.

6. Maintain A Positive Outlook

Job hunting can feel like a full-time occupation. Constantly checking emails and waiting for recruiters to reach out can become overwhelming, leading to feelings of inadequacy.

Surround yourself with positive individuals who offer encouragement and propel you forward. Seek support from family, friends, mentors, and anyone with a positive and motivated mindset. They can help you recognize your strengths and recall past successes, while also providing valuable insights for your next steps. Explain to them that you require encouragement and support during this time.

7. Unwavering Networking: Your Full-Time Job Until and Beyond Landing a New Opportunity

Networking is an incredibly effective strategy when seeking a new job. Start by identifying HR managers, recruiters, and managers in your contact list. Reach out to former co-workers and invite them for coffee, letting them know about your active job search.

Utilize social media to inform your network of your availability. You can send emails or LinkedIn Direct messages to keep them updated. If you find it difficult to disclose that you’ve been laid off, simply express that you are open to exploring new opportunities.

Seek advice from friends who have successfully navigated a job search after being laid off. Arrange meetings with individuals who have relevant experience to learn from their journeys.

Reach out to former managers, companies, and employers with whom you had positive working relationships. Inform them of your job search and the types of roles you are seeking.

Attend conferences and industry meetings to meet new people. Establish connections before mentioning your job search, as it can be off-putting to lead with “Hi, I’m seeking a job.” Instead, initiate conversations with a friendly approach like, “Hello, it’s been a while since we last spoke. How about catching up over coffee?” Then, during the meeting, you can naturally discuss your current job search activities.

After securing your job, don’t cease communication with them, as it can make people feel used and harm your reputation. Instead, consider checking in with them on a monthly or yearly basis.

8. Think About Other Types of Industries

Has your job market become saturated in your region?

Is it experiencing high demand? If not, perhaps it’s time to contemplate stepping out of your comfort zone and exploring a new career path. Conduct research to determine if your current field is already oversaturated.

9. Enhance Your Skillset

Experiencing a layoff presents a valuable opportunity to refine your skills while actively seeking new employment. Consider enrolling in online courses, attending workshops, or pursuing business courses. Upgrading your skillset significantly boosts your prospects during the job search process.

10. Update Your Resume, LinkedIn, and Social Media Profiles

Begin by refreshing your resume. Polish its content by incorporating any new skills, qualifications, and experiences you’ve gained. Ensure that you tailor the keywords to match each job you intend to apply for. It’s essential to include your most recent job experience.

Similarly, update your LinkedIn profile. Change your status to “Open to Work” and revise your LinkedIn bio accordingly. Clearly outline your background and articulate your desired next role. LinkedIn serves as a powerful tool for job hunting, so it’s crucial to shape it in a way that signals your openness to new opportunities.

Time to Begin your job hunt

1. Check Online Job Boards

Utilize online platforms like LinkedIn and Indeed, which continuously update their job boards with new opportunities. Additionally, consider exploring contract or part-time positions. Keep an eye out for seasonal or temporary jobs as well. Maintaining flexibility increases your chances of achieving results sooner.

2. Reach Out to Recruiting Agencies

Recruiters are often highly knowledgeable about various employment sectors and can offer valuable services such as providing information, interview preparation, and more. Don’t hesitate to leverage their expertise to enhance your job search process.

3. Practice for Interviews

If it has been a while since you were in your former position and you haven’t had any interviews, it’s time to practice. Research the company you’re applying to thoroughly. Conduct mock interviews and familiarize yourself with interview preparation techniques. You can also refer to blog posts for additional tips on interviewing.

4. Be Patient

When aiming for senior roles, finding the ideal job may be challenging. Transitioning from a junior position may require time to secure your desired opportunity. Remember that patience is crucial. Even after an interview, the hiring process could take weeks. Prepare yourself for any outcome while maintaining hope. If rejected, it’s not a big deal—there are thousands of companies out there hiring for positions like yours. Stay consistent and persistent in your job search efforts.


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