What To Do When You Get Laid Off: 30 Day Guide

what to do when you get laid off

What do you do when you get laid off? The first thing you need to understand is if you got fired or if you got laid off. Knowing the difference will decipher what you do over the next 30 days and which steps you should take to get back on track and find another job.

Did you truly get laid off? Getting laid off is different than being fired. Getting laid off is when a company is downsizing, usually cutting staff or going through a change in their organizational structure to where your team might have been affected.

You’ll know when you’re laid off because it will usually include a larger group of people and your employee benefits will be intact for a certain period of time (plus the severance that you are usually provided).

If you were fired or terminated, then that’s an entirely different approach to the next 30 days. Terminated is when you are fired, meaning, you are the only one in the company at that time that was let go. You normally won’t get severance and this is something you have to deal with in a much different way. If you were terminated, skip this guide altogether.

The First 7 Days Of Being Laid Off

The first few days of being laid off are going to be the most difficult. Especially if you’ve been with your company for a long period of time. The first 7 days of your unemployment journey should be about detoxing from your position. If you were laid off, there’s an 80% chance or greater that you will have severance. Meaning, you should have some financial runway to take a breather and understand what you want to do next.

The detoxing period is really important. It will help prevent you making irrational employment decisions which could lead to really short employment times if you don’t find a position that you are happy with right away.

Take sometime to recalibrate. If you want to stay proactive, the best thing you can do is to keep up with industry news, reach out to colleagues you are familiar with (both past and present colleagues) and stay connected.

14 Days Into Being Laid Off

After the first 7 days of your detox period, it’s important to start thinking about your next position. This is because your severance is going to start drying up. Usually, they provide two weeks to one month of severance. And so after day 7 of your unemployment journey, you want to start being proactive in the job market.

The absolute best thing you can do on day 8 is to start reaching out to your professional network. The great thing about being laid off is that it has literally zero impact on your career path. Being laid off is a common occurrence. More than 50% of us will be laid off in our lifetime. When you reach out to your network, explain that you were laid off and that you are looking for new opportunities.

Set a goal for yourself to reach out to at least 10 people in your professional network. If you can, aim for 20. Let them know, “I was laid off, I’m looking for new opportunities. Do you know of anyone who is looking for [job function here].”

You’d be surprised just how far this goes.

Start Your Job Search

After reaching out to your network, which will undoubtedly be the most effective way to start looking for new positions, you’ll need a backup plan. Start thinking about updating your resume.

The first thing you should do is get letters of recommendation from any of your previous employers. If you were laid off, this shouldn’t be an issue. There’s a great chance that your previous employer will be extremely happy to provide this for you. Ask them, it will go a long way in your process.

When updating your resume, just be sure that’s it's up to date and contains your most recent achievements. The letters of recommendation will go a long way when you have to explain your reason for leaving your last job (which is being laid off).

Be sure to start applying to open positions right away. Try to target a list of at least 20 job openings. While yes, your application process is going to be a little bit of a numbers game, you always want to make sure that you apply to positions which you are a good fit for.

For the jobs which you feel you are an absolutely great fit for, be sure to send a follow-up email after your job application has been submitted. This will show your true interest in wanting to work with that company. If you are using a spreadsheet to track which job openings you are applying to, be sure to mark the job openings that are the best targets. That way you’ll be able to place a marker on the job openings which you followed up with and those that you didn’t.

Set A Deadline For Yourself

It’s really important that when you are out of work that you still follow-through on time commitments. Much like having a job, where deadlines are present. Set a deadline for yourself. You don’t want to fall into the trap of being unemployed for longer than 30 days. If you feel like you just can’t find a job consider changing your approach.

Attend Meetups Or Conferences

When applying for open positions, be sure that you are using your free time wisely. After day 7 of your unemployment detox, start thinking about what events you can attend which might have new connections that would give you employment opportunities. It’s important to note that nearly 30% of people who are hired are hired by a company that doesn’t have an active open position. This is because most companies are hiring or getting ready to hire for a position but may not have posted it on their corporate website or job board.

For you this is an opportunity to get involved in an opportunity early. But it means being proactive and voicing your desire for employment. It’s as simple as letting people around you know this. That’s all you have to do. But if you stay reserved and don’t voice your interest, nothing is going to happen.

Think Of Your Strategy As A Combined Effort

It’s important that you don’t pick one or two of these steps after you get laid off. Start thinking about how you can bring awareness to your network, update your resume, get letters of recommendation, apply for jobs and attend meetups all at the same time. This will increase your chances of employment by nearly 50%. Remember that the worst thing you can do is start to enjoy your time off too much. You need to stay focused on the fact that you need employment. Your motivation will need to be upheld. And the only way to truly do that is to stick with your process. Stay confident, stay motivated, you will find another job quickly!

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.


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