What To Do After Getting Laid Off

Hi, I’m Patrick, I write about the job search. After graduating from Cornell, I became a content lead at UBS where I helped professionals at Fortune 500 companies understand their stock options, salary, and benefits. When I’m not writing about the hiring process, I write novels for teens.

Getting laid off can be traumatic. No matter the circumstances, a layoff feels highly personal and can send job-seekers spiraling. Workers ask: Was it my fault? Will I get another job? Will my time in-between jobs permanently damage my career?

The first thing to realize is that you’re not alone. Millions of Americans were laid off at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the figure remains high at about 1.2 million in April. Many high-profile tech companies like Netflix have laid off en masse this month. Others like Uber, Microsoft, Twitter, and Meta have announced major slow-downs in hiring.

The good news is that the 2022 job market remains favorable to job-seekers. While recent layoffs may be high profile, far more workers are also voluntarily quitting their jobs as the price of labor increases. In other words, job-seekers have more bargaining power than in a very long time–This could be the perfect time to land an even better job. Follow these 6 steps to quickly bounce back after getting laid off and land another job.


1. Maintain your Mental Health

So you’ve just been laid off–Don’t panic. Maintaining a motivated positive attitude makes all the difference in the job search, especially since you could be searching for many months. While searching for jobs, find a passion project you can enjoy consistently working on, ideally related to your work. Take strategic breaks during your job search to avoid burnout. Take a day trip. Exercise. Meditate. Do whatever you can to relax and recover, especially in the first week after being laid off. Even if you don’t think getting laid off affected you emotionally, take time to yourself anyway. Losing a job because of something totally outside your control is always stressful, especially when you don’t know when you’ll land the next job.

While it may be tempting to race through job applications and send a flurry of networking emails, it’s more important that you take care of yourself so you can consistently apply to jobs and perform well in interviews. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

2. Get you “Laid off Letter” and References

Getting laid off and getting fired are completely different–Ask for a layoff letter from HR to prove it. Your layoff letter should explain the reason you were laid off (buyout, restructuring, automation, etc) to employers, as well as explain your contributions to the company. Read the letter carefully to make sure it highlights your accomplishments.

Don’t forget to ask for a reference. A positive reference from your employers is what separates a layoff from a firing. Some laid off employees get disgruntled, assuming that their boss doesn’t think that their work is important: “They wouldn’t let me go if I was a valued employee, right?” Not true! Your supervisor could very well be thrilled with your work and performance, and likely has nothing to do with you being laid off. Express your gratitude for working under your supervisor and stay positive so you can leave with a glowing reference.

3. Check your Severance Package

Depending on the length of employment, laid off employees may get severance pay. Check with your employer so you understand the full range of your severance package, from pay to insurance. Consider going to the dentist or doctor if you won’t have insurance for the coming months.

4. Apply for Unemployment

A severance package does not prevent you from filing for unemployment. Try to file for unemployment as soon as you are terminated.

When hunting for jobs, organize all your applications in a spreadsheet. This will not only prove your job hunt to unemployment services, but also help you stay motivated during the job search. Many job seekers overestimate the number of jobs they’re applying for. Aim for at least 10 new job applications each week. Logging every job you apply to will make it easier to reach your target number of applications.

5. Optimize your Resume and LinkedIn Profiles

It may be tempting to apply for jobs as soon as you’ve been laid off. But to have the best chance of landing a job you love, you need to strengthen your resume and Linkedin profiles. After all, hiring managers don’t see the work you’ve done, only your resume.

Want your resume to stand out? Quantify your work. Include numbers, percentages, and concrete details like sales figures. Instead of passive statements, consider using active, story-driven statements. Quantifying your resume and using impact statements proves to hiring managers that despite being laid off, your work had an impact.

To optimize your LinkedIn, include the same quantified results-oriented descriptions as your resume, but expand on your work in greater detail. In the bio section, include more personal information like your hobbies, passions, and interests to give the recruiter a better sense of who you are beyond work. Add links to your website, GitHub projects, and even testimonials from coworkers or supervisors. This further proves that you had a positive impact before being laid off.

6. Reverse Recruiting

Job applications go far beyond resumes. We laid off recommend job-seekers send personalized cold emails (or a LinkedIn message!) along with their applications to increase their odds. A personalized email gives your application a human element and makes it more likely to actually get read by another real human.

Who should you email? Search LinkedIn for employees at that company you are applying for. Ideally, you should be looking for a recruiter that has something in common with you, like a shared school or hometown.

When you’ve found the right person, find their email address using a scraping tool like Next, write a compelling cold email that explains who you are, how you are connected to the recruiter, why you want to work for their company, and how you can make an impact. You don’t have to share about your layoff, but you can easily work that story into your introductory message to explain your interest.

With these steps, you should be able to bounce back from getting laid off and effectively transition into the job search. If you would like to work 1-on-1 with a mentor to optimize your job search, join Pathrise. We offer a job guarantee, so you don’t pay anything until you land a great job.

Our mentors work with fellows on resume and portfolio optimization, reverse recruiting, cold emailing, technical and behavioral interviewing, and salary negotiation. Fellows in our program see their interview scores double and their application responses, finding a job in only 3-5 months on average. If you want to land your dream tech job faster, join Pathrise.

Apply today.

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Patrick Bohan

Hi, I'm Patrick, I write about the job search. After graduating from Cornell, I became a content lead at UBS where I helped professionals at Fortune 500 companies understand their stock options, salary, and benefits. When I'm not writing about the hiring process, I write novels for teens.

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