Knowing what to do after being laid off is important to know even if your job isn’t on the line.
However, layoffs are inevitable, unfortunately. This is particularly true during times of economic turmoil like a recession.
In some cases, companies may lay off entire departments or select people based on criteria. This can mean tens, hundreds, or even thousands of people will be out of a job.
Being laid off can be quite emotionally draining. It’s especially important that you have all the information to protect yourself and your family while moving forward with finding a new role, even if that means changing careers.
What to do after being laid off
There are a number of steps you can take to better understand your options if you’re laid off or even furloughed. If there are murmurs of potential downsizing around your office, it’s better to know the questions to ask ahead of time.
Have some grace with yourself.
First thing’s first — practice kindness and patience with yourself. Layoffs are really hard and are not always based on performance or tenure. It can be easy to immediately think of what you did wrong and get down on yourself. What’s most important is that your mental health stays strong despite this letdown.
Cover off on all the logistics with HR.
If a company is going through mass layoffs, they’ll likely try to rip the bandaid off quickly and give you a bunch of information at once. Some of the following questions may be answered, but ensure all get answered before your last day:
- Get a formal letter stating that you were laid off
- Understand your final payment schedule and when your last paycheck will arrive
- Understand your unemployment options and when you can start collecting those benefits
- Discuss severance packages, if applicable
- Review your 401k or pension plans, if applicable
- Understand your health insurance benefit or plan options, including when your employer coverage will end and if you have access to short-term plans like Cobra
Realign on your values, wishes, desires, and goals.
Take the time you need to cope emotionally and mentally. Once you’re not reeling on what to do after being laid off and you’re not bogged down by the day to day of your job function, you can really start to uncover what you want from your next role or company.
In fact, taking the time to write those down and better understand what they are will help you align goals and values with prospective companies. This is true whether you plan to stay in a similar role or entirely change careers.
Consider what your next steps look like.
When your options are wide open, it can be intimidating to determine what you want to do. Some options include:
- Staying in your current role or industry but finding new opportunities
- Entirely changing careers or industries for a different experience
- Returning to school, trade school, or a bootcamp for advanced education and training
- Freelance or do contract work
Weigh the pros and cons of any choices you’re considering and, when in doubt, consult someone you trust to help make sense of your decision.
Leverage your network for advice and connections.
Once you consider what your next step is, find people in your network you know directly or who can refer you to someone to talk to. It’s crucial to rely on your connections or find new connections after being laid off. As stated before, layoffs are unfortunately inevitable as the economy changes, so most folks are sympathetic to your situation and are happy to help.
Tailor your portfolio, resume, and LinkedIn profile to your new endeavor.
While looking ahead to your new opportunities, take some time to reflect on the previous one. Your previous job is likely still fresh in your mind, so it’s important to list out every skill, role, and responsibility you held while you can remember them clearly. Updating your resume and LinkedIn at this time will help you be able to apply for new roles sooner.
Be patient — but diligent.
You may not be in control of whether you get laid off or not, but you are in control of what you do after. Giving yourself the patience to move forward and the diligence to seek out new opportunities is critical.
Regardless of what you choose to do after a layoff, pursue it boldly and use everything in your tool kit to make that endeavor a successful one!
Learn more about recession-proof careers
Even as the tides of the economy change, some careers remain recession-proof. They may even have hiring surges while other industries see significant downturn.
Check out a list of recession-proof careers here.