News and Insights / Career Resources

Laid Off. Now What?

man walking out of office after being laid off

Losing your job can be a traumatic experience. It's perfectly normal to feel anxious, stressed out, or both. If you are facing a layoff, remember that you're not alone.

40% of Americans have been laid off or terminated from a job at least once. As a company that helps job seekers reach their career goals, we can attest that, more often than not, getting laid off is the first step in a journey that leads to a job you'll love.

In this article, we'll explore strategies for helping you regain your footing and how to get on a path to success after a layoff. We'll cover:


What to do after you find out you're getting laid off

First, when you find out you’re getting laid off take a deep breath, and allow yourself to process the news.

Contact your organization's HR department and get any questions about your layoff answered. Be sure to ask about your severance package and your roll-off date. 

Make communicating your employer's decision to your loved ones a priority. Be open about your feelings. Ask for support if you need it. 

Review your finances and take into account any changes you need to make. Contact your state unemployment office and let them know you were laid off so they can start processing your unemployment payments. 

Reach out to your soon-to-be former colleagues. They may be experiencing the same rollercoaster of emotions and will appreciate a supportive message. Also, they may have information or advice that could assist you in your job hunt. Keep your message positive and professional. A simple thank you for their support and collaboration over your tenure can go a long way to maintaining good professional relationships.


Prioritize your mental health

Losing a job can be emotionally exhausting, and it's normal to experience anger, embarrassment, inadequacy, and anxiety. Ensure you're checking in with yourself, letting out your emotions, and finding healthy ways to cope. Whether that means spending time with loved ones or seeking professional support, your mental health should be one of your priorities.


Assess your goals and write down what you want from your next role 

A layoff is an opportunity to think about your long-term aspirations and create a plan that aligns with your values and passions. Take the time to reflect on your career path and reassess your priorities. Figure out what you want to accomplish next. What do you want to achieve professionally, and how can you move closer to that goal? 

Here are some questions that you can ask yourself to help you get the ball rolling

  • How much would you like to be paid?
  • What industry would you like to work in?
  • Do you want to manage people?
  • What kinds of companies interest you?
  • Would you prefer to work remotely or in an office setting?
  • Which skills do you want to improve and develop?
  • Do you want to do the same kind of work you’ve been doing, or try something new? 


Exploring the job market

Now that you’ve assessed your goals, it’s time to explore the job market. Sign up for job alerts from organizations that interest you, and check in with websites like LinkedIn that match you to potential employers. Take advantage of your network and contact people who can help you. The more contacts you make, the better your chances of finding a new job. Consider working with a recruiter like System One. We can help match you with positions that align with your goals. 


Strengthening connections

One of the most important things you can do after getting laid off is to strengthen your professional connections. Reach out to former colleagues, mentors, and friends in your industry. Let them know you're looking for new opportunities and ask for their advice or recommendations. Staying in contact with colleagues can also lead to new job opportunities. If you are anxious about reaching out to your peers, ask yourself, "Would I want this person to reach out to me if the tables were turned?" if the answer is "yes, " they're probably more than happy to hear from you. 

Another great way to strengthen your connections is to join a professional organization. Joining a group on Linkedin or another collection of professionals is a great way to stay up to date with relevant industry trends and meet people in your field. With their advice and expertise, you may even find job opportunities that haven’t been made public yet. 


Beginning your job search

After you've laid out your goals, it's time to get back on the horse.

Make sure your resume and cover letter are current, practice your interview skills, and start applying to jobs. Keep in mind that rejection is part of the process, and stay positive and motivated even when things get tough. If, at any point, you find yourself struggling to find traction, re-examine your resume and the information you put in your cover letter. If you would like a professional opinion, System One recruiters will be happy to suggest ways of improving outreach.  

Finding a new job takes time, but with persistence and hard work, you can find a role that aligns with your goals and values.


Answering questions about your layoff

As you begin interviewing for new positions, you may be asked about your layoff. It's important to be prepared for hard interview questions like these and to answer them in a way that reflects positively on you. Be honest about what happened, and emphasize what you learned from the experience and how you plan to move forward. Remember that being laid off doesn't define your professional value, and it's up to you to shift the focus back onto your skills and experience.


Final thoughts

Losing your job can be a challenging experience, but it's not the end of the road. By prioritizing your mental health, assessing your goals, strengthening your connections, preparing for job interviews, and staying motivated during the job search, you can move forward with confidence and find a role that aligns with your values. Keep your head up and stay positive. You got this.

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