I Got Laid Off – What to Do Next

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There are moments in time when you have to pick and choose your battles. The difference between giving helpful advice and encouragement and providing a painful band-aid pull is separated by a line thin enough to straighten out an army of ants. When discussing the concept of being laid off, we must decide between tones, pulling between empathy and encouragement alike.

Simply put: if you have just been laid off, the last thing you want is someone telling you it’s going to be okay. Everything, including both the path ahead and the road left behind, can look caliginous and sunless. There’s both doubt and hopelessness settling in, creating anger toward both yourself and your lack of psychic abilities to help prevent such a life marring.

Regardless of how you feel and how you plan to battle the emotions set ahead, you have been let go from your current job. Regardless of the reasons, it’s time to figure out what to do next (hence you searching the web for the answer). Though we are a staffing agency, we often deal with employees that have lost their jobs. We know how to get back on track and change for a better future.

Dust yourself off and get ready. Here are the next steps:

A Working World Set Aflame

Just last week we found ourselves writing up a disheartening article. Aptly titled, Layoff Contagion – Tech Companies Starting Terrifying Trend, we dove into the world of tech layoffs.

In 2022, over 964 tech companies laid off over 149,876 workers globally. Though the numbers may seem skewed, surrounding an industry with millions of workers and thousands of companies, the significance is as crucial as you could possibly imagine. So critical, in fact, that WRAL Tech Wire has created an entire list for ‘Layoff Watch’ this year.

Like a match left blazing near a puddle of gasoline, the flame began to spread onward. Tech companies began cutting employees drastically due to others. Others imitated others because others were imitating others. This concept of social contagion (doing something because your peers are) began to mark the tech world with a plethora of firings. It has been mass hysteria.

This social contagion of cutting workforces began moving to other industries. In fact, we already see other companies following the tech industry. Investment bank Barclay’s laid off about 200 employees, AMC Networks plans to lay off 20% of its staff. The Washington Post has even discontinued print magazines and laid off a few workers.

Simply put: layoffs are becoming a fad. Seriously.

And the Point Is?

These layoffs are causing thousands of workers to lose their jobs. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you are at blame (if you were laid off). It’s entirely possible that your company decided to jump onto the trend, cutting its workforce for the sake of following an idea that others have pathed. Maybe there were justifiable reasons. Maybe there weren’t.

At the end of the day, the current state of employment is rough. Do not begin to push yourself downward. Remember that you are not the only person in your industry that is facing these fallouts. Trust us.

A laid-off worker at Catalent in Bloomington, Indiana, told The Guardian, “I’m 45 and have no idea what I want to do. The people that are still working are affected by this. They have to pick up the slack and they are missing the ones they worked next to. I wish they would have waited till the first of the year. Who wants to find a job or hire right before Christmas?”

Remember: you are not alone in this journey.

Preparation and Riding the Wave

There is something to be said about preparing before being laid off. Many may see it as a pessimistic state, but the truth is based on realism. If you have noticed that other members of your workforce or business are getting laid off, you may start to wonder if the target may fall upon you. If you work in the tech industry, you may already be aware that trouble is bubbling beneath the office floor.

It’s not pessimistic or disloyal to begin thinking about life after layoff. If you hear murmurs, start preparing. It’s not morally wrong to prepare your life for turmoil. Don’t get taken by surprise.

1. Start Looking At Other Openings

As we stated: if you hear rumors or see evidence of a layoff hitting your department, start looking and applying to other jobs in the field. Don’t openly express this job search to fellow employees or bosses, but start looking when you are out of the office. You can always turn down job interviews and offers if you end up keeping your job.

There is a strange dilemma in regard to interviewing for new jobs, though. You should always be honest and let the new employer know that you are currently employed, but you may not want to start interviewing until you know for sure that you are going to get laid off.

For a fast rule of thumb, think about how the layoff potential makes you feel. Do you feel you may never be comfortable or safe in your job position again? If so, then you should start interviewing for other gigs in general. When you get the new job, you can always leave the current job due to the rocky and uncertain future.

If you love your current job and would be devastated to lose it, maybe keep interviews pushed off until the next wave of layoffs.

It’s a tricky question and is entirely up to your gut reaction. Regardless, you should start looking at the lay of the job hunt land before you get laid off officially.

2. Get Your Portfolio in Order

This may be job-specific, but make sure you have all of your work samples saved and backed up before you get laid off. It will make your job search quicker and stop you from having to contact the former employer to receive your job samples.

Start thinking about your resume and what you will need for job applications. Do you need to get together some former projects off of your work computer? Should you start saving the correct versions of work files to your drive? Stuff like that.

Of course, make sure you are legally in the right. Don’t take things for your portfolio if you need permission from your current employer.

3. Use Your Benefits

Let’s be frank. Benefits can be hard to come by.

If you believe that you are about to be laid off, you may want to take advantage of your benefits while you have them. It’s hard to estimate when you will have benefits again. For even when you do find a new job, it can still take months for those benefits to kick in.

See the doctor for issues you’ve been putting off. Visit the dentist. Get your medication squared away for a longer period, if possible. Get those yearly vision or other tests done now.

So You’ve Been Laid Off

Unfortunately, you weren’t able to prepare before the storm rocked your boat. That’s okay. Most people don’t get the chance to get their affairs in order and start job searching before getting let go. They make it out and so will you.

Let’s discuss exactly what you should do after you have been laid off.

Take a Breath

We understand the gravity of the situation. We understand how dark and dreary the world may seem. Remember that you are not the only one in the situation. Remember that millions of people go through this experience every year and make it to the other side.

This is not the time to be pessimistic. This is the time to be confident in yourself and your abilities. You are a fantastic worker that is an expert in your field. A new employer will be lucky to have you in their workforce.

 “A bend in the road is not the end of the road… unless you fail to make the turn.”

— Helen Keller, American Author

From Your Former Employer

Firstly, let’s break down the things you need to do and gather from your former employer. While these tips will not fall into a timeline of events and actions, you should get everything squared away with your former job as quickly as possible. You do not want to be in and out of contact with them forever.

Remember: Do everything with tact and respect. Do not take your aggression out on them or talk badly about them going forward. Yes, they hurt you by letting you go. No, being mean to them or talking negatively about them does nothing to help your future.

That breath we just took together? That was to let all the bitterness go before handling your business.

Negotiate Your Severance

Companies are not legally required to offer you severance pay when letting you go, but some will. They are often offered to keep a good relationship with the employee, keeping them from giving away company secrets or information. This means that typically a waiver is signed by both parties before the payment is made.

If you are offered a severance plan, see if there is room to negotiate. If possible, ask for extended health insurance and payment based on your experience and position. For example, severance pay is often one or two weeks per year of employment. Therefore, if you’ve worked for ten years, you should be receiving one or two weeks’ pay multiplied by ten.

Sometimes these amounts are set in stone, but you can always see if wiggle room is possible. If you are being offered payment, the company obviously wants to stay on good terms with you. You have some leverage.

Furthermore, check with your employer about other forms of payment like accrued holiday pay, personal days, commission, and sick time. Get all of these payments if you can. If you do not take advantage of them, they will disappear. That’s money left on the table that is legally owed to you.

This goes for every step of this process. If you feel like something is illegal about the way in which you were laid off, check with an attorney before signing any paperwork (including severance waivers).

While they may not be in the wrong, you should still check into it. If you were the only person laid off, were laid off after making a complaint, or any other suspicious circumstances, call a lawyer.

Most states are at-will states, meaning employers can fire workers for any reason, but there are still illegal reasons to be fired. Check into your local laws if you feel something is awry or wrong.

Get References

If you are leaving on good terms, make sure to get a letter of recommendation from your current supervisor.

Firstly, any reference letter from a former employer is great in your job search. It proves that you are a prominent worker and have professionalism behind your resume. It may end up being the tipping point in your job hunt. That extra inch that puts you above all the other applicants.

Secondly, it proves to new employers that you were not fired from your last job. Your former employer should note that you were laid off due to business circumstances, not because of negativity surrounding your work habits or professionalism. This helps ease the worry of new employers during the job hunt process.

Register for Unemployment

Though the hope is that you will find a new job efficiently, you never know the world in which you are entering. It could take longer than you expected to find the right job. You may want to give yourself a bit of financial wiggle room to make sure you find a great job for your future. Therefore, make sure to apply for unemployment at your state office.

Receiving severance pay does not disqualify you from unemployment benefits, by the way.

Unemployment can take a long time to go through state systems. Therefore, get your application in as quickly as possible. You may also need information from your former employer, so register while you are still in close contact with your former boss.

For Your New Job Hunt

After you square everything away with your former employer, you need to begin preparing for the job hunt. If you have been working at the company for an extended period of time, you may need to catch up on the current market.

Here are a few tips to help you prepare for the new search.

Update Your Resume

While the concept of a resume is simple, it’s anything but in practice. After all, it’s one tiny document that has to sell you to a potential employer or staffing agency. No pressure. If you have been out of the job hunt for a while, making sure to get your resume in present order is crucial.

Your resume is your elevator pitch. You’re trying to convince a company that you’re the next summer blockbuster. You have to be efficient and confident, well-written and impressive (unlike my analogy). Don’t worry, though. With enough practice, you’ll be cranking out job-winning resumes like it is, in fact, your job.

We have a ton of articles regarding how to build a job-winning resume. We will link the two best here:

36 Resume Tips to Get You Hired

Things to Avoid on Your Resume – Ultimate Guide

Make sure to include your most recent job. Even if it’s the only time that you’ve been let go in your career, you should still mark it down. While it may seem clever to overlook or ‘forget’ jobs that ended in termination, you need to keep your work history in chronological order. You never want substantial gaps on your resume.

Regardless, if you got a letter of recommendation from your previous employer, you can prove that you weren’t fired.

Make Sure Your Indeed Is Updated

Indeed is a huge player in the job-hunting game. In fact, they bolster over 300 million unique users every month. Therefore, if you are looking for a new job, you are likely to stumble across a few on the worldwide job board.

Your Indeed account has its own resume that is sent to employers when you apply. Make sure that it is updated with the same information as your resume. Also, make sure to retake all your proficiency tests on the site. They are also sent to employers.

Do Not Consider Yourself Fired

This goes for both your job search and your personal psyche.

You were not fired. You were let go by a company that had reasons outside of your performance or professionalism. Do not look at yourself as someone that has been let go from their career due to incompetence. Do not refer to yourself as someone that was fired in job applications, interviews, and other discussions.

On the contrary, do not try to hide the fact that you were laid off. It’s likely that job applications or interviews will inquire about why you aren’t at your last job. Be honest. Being laid off is not a mark against you as a worker or professional. Let the hiring manager why you were laid off (i.e. company downsizing or cut departments).

Start Networking

If you’ve been in your industry for a while, you should have a plethora of contacts to reach out to. Feel free to shoot them emails or messages to let them know you are back on the job hunt. Ask them if they have any leads or recommendations. It may be a shot in the dark, but you never know where it will lead you. Someone may know of an open position or will give you an inside reference.

If you only have connections at the company you just worked at, you may find yourself at a bit of a loss. Check out public events in your industry. If possible, attend them and make new connections outside of your previous work bubble.

This is the time to start hitting applications like LinkedIn hard. That’s the easiest way to reach out to like-minded professionals in your industry.

Work With a Staffing Agency

Working with a staffing agency (like Tier2Tek) can help you find a job efficiently. Luckily, it’s a cost-free option to get quick connections to a plethora of jobs.

National staffing agencies (like ours) have connections within all industries. You never know what we may be able to link you with. It’s worth a shot.

Contact us for a quick greeting. We will see how we can help.

Brush Up On Your Skills

If you haven’t searched for a job in a while, you may be rusty regarding the applicable skills. From interviewing to writing professional emails, there are a ton of factors that go into winning a great job.

Don’t walk into an interview without looking over some interview tips. Even if you were a master of interviewing before your last job, some things may have changed.

Here are our articles regarding job searching and interview tips:

For Yourself

While we’ve hinted at the psyche-related activity throughout the entire article, we must note a few things to keep in mind during your job search.

At the end of the day, this is a time away from work. It’s not a vacation, per se, but it is a moment of reprieve. It’s a moment to think about the path you are on and how to handle it going forward.

Look At Where You Are

Per data collected by Microsoft at the beginning of 2022, 46% of employees were considering career changes. 20% of workers changed careers since the beginning of the pandemic.

Overall, the life-threatening demeanor of the worldwide pandemic caused many workers to look introspectively at their careers. Did they really want to spend the rest of such precious life at a job they disliked? It sparked a renaissance of sorts, giving workers the out to start new careers in new industries.

While your layoff may not be directly connected to the COVID-19 pandemic, it still falls into the same realm of introspection. The world has changed drastically in the last few years. We, as humans, have shifted our ideals and values. Maybe it’s time to look at yourself and see if you really enjoy the career you are going down.

If you are lucky enough to be able to afford the change, think about whether you would like to start a different path or apply for a different role. Now would be the time to do it.

Certifications and Education

If you need new certifications for new jobs (or industry changes) or need to further your education in the industry you were already in, now is the time to do so. Make sure to brush up on all of your industry-based certifications and further learnings while you have the time. Not only is it more applicable during your job search, but it will help you land better jobs going forward.

For example, if there was a certification that could help you apply for jobs above the one you already had, now is the time to get it. Anything to help boost your job search and career is useful. It will also keep your mind busy, helping you avoid the unemployment funk.

Stay Positive

A report by Jobspin found that 39% of the candidates leave a bad impression due to their overall confidence level, voice quality, or lack of a smile. Though it may be a low time in your career, it’s important to remain confident in your abilities and yourself as a person. That confidence resonates throughout your applications and interviews, helping you win those dream jobs.

No, really. There isn’t a single article on this site that doesn’t note confidence during the job search. Hiring managers want a worker that is boastful about their abilities and accomplishments. This doesn’t mean you need to be cocky, but you should be sure of yourself.

It can be hard to stay confident after you’ve been let go. If you were so good, why were you expendable?

Forget all that questioning and doubt! You are a fantastic worker and you are going to find an amazing gig. You are just one of the thousands to be let go in your industry during these tumultuous times. It has nothing to do with you personally.

“The crowning fortune of a man is to be born to some pursuit which finds him employment and happiness, whether it be to make baskets, or broadswords, or canals, or statues, or songs.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Essayist