You got laid off? Let’s talk about next steps

Srivatsan Sridharan
Srivatsan Sridharan
7 min readNov 9, 2022
Image courtesy (Creative Commons)

For weeks, your company’s Blind has been going bonkers over rumors of layoffs. One not so fine day, a mysterious calendar invite pops up on your inbox. A few minutes later you get an email from the CEO saying how unfortunately they have to cut the company’s workforce. Macro-economic blah blah…role no longer needed blah blah…tears well up in your eyes as you read this. You are able to register only a few of these sentences as the unsettling reality kicks in. You attend that now not so mysterious meeting with your Director and HR. They tell you about your separation benefits and thank you for your valuable contributions. And then moments later, you can no longer access Slack, or Email. Your laptop gets locked out. You disappear.

If this sounds familiar to you, you are not alone. My intention is not to bring back the trauma, but to share with you that you are not alone. This has happened to thousands of employees in the tech industry recently. And contrary to what conspiracy theorists inside your head or outside might say, it’s not your fault.

Why Me?

It’s a very natural human reaction to seek answers. Maybe you are angry or you are beating yourself up or wondering if only you had done something differently, you would still have your job. Maybe you have always been a top performer, or a diligent hardworking employee who has always put the company’s needs before your own. How could this possibly happen to you, of all the people in the world!

Let those emotions run through you. Acknowledge them and be kind to yourself. Connect with your friends and family, people whom you trust to have your back. Reach out to a therapist if you seek an unbiased human to talk to. Different people process this differently, but do take at least 1–2 days to let the emotions run out.

As much as it is irritating to not know the reason why, the reality is, most layoffs are fairly random. When people say it’s not your fault, it’s truly not your fault. If a business line gets cut, there’s nothing you could’ve done to prevent it. If your role becomes redundant, there’s not much you could’ve done to avoid it. If you suspect your manager was biased against you, well, chances are your manager didn’t make the decision anyway. A lot goes into the decision making of a layoff — it’s messy, error-prone, and while it may have a method behind the madness (eg. cutting business lines), there is indeed a lot of randomness and bad luck involved.

Remember that a layoff is not a reflection of your performance. Neither is it a failure for you. Do not question your self-worth. If you’re having these thoughts, push them out. You just got hit by bad luck.

It’s time to move on

You may be tempted to reach out to your colleagues who weren’t affected by the layoff to figure out why this happened to you. Chances are, nobody will know. Even if they know, they won’t tell you. Heck, it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you get to start a new chapter in your professional journey. Think about the upside that awaits you — what if you get a new job that is more fulfilling and rewarding than the previous? Yes, you parted with your previous company not on your own terms. Yes, the news caught you unprepared like a deer in front of headlights. So what? What would you have done if you had left on your own terms? Maybe you’d have a job lined up already. You don’t have that right now. So what? You were capable enough to get your previous job. You are more than capable enough to get your next one.

Overcome your inner demons

The challenge in front of you may seem daunting. Companies are doing hiring freezes, the number of open roles is diminishing, you have a ticking time bomb with visa restrictions or a mortgage to pay or a baby on the way. You may wake up in the middle of the night drenched in fear and despair about how you are going to support your family. Voices inside you may continue to tell you how much of a failure you are, even though you know that is not true. Memories of your boss thanking for your service flash through your eyes. The demons dance inside your head.

Don’t let them.

Think about the time when you had to find your first job out of high school or college. Think about the time when you took on a new assignment. Remember the time when you had to fail a hundred times before you succeeded? Remember how amazing you felt after achieving that success? The situation now isn’t very different. You can do right now what you did back then.

If you have enough of a financial cushion and are not shackled by visa restrictions, this might be a wonderful blessing in disguise. You get paid (in severance) to take a break, spend time with friends and family, and focus on what you want to do next in life. This is your long overdue sabbatical that has been granted to you to do as you please!

If you don’t have that cushion or luxury, it’s natural to feel rushed or panicked. But remember that your skills, worth, and the fantastic qualities you bring to the table are the same, if not more. The only thing that’s different now than in a situation when you look for another job is that there is a time constraint. And time constraints can be overcome.

I’m writing a lot about the mindset here, because that’s the #1 thing you need to conquer. Once you’ve done that, the rest become relatively easy.

Reach out to your network

LinkedIn is your biggest friend right now. Reach out to all your friends, former colleagues, friends of friends, recruiters that you ghosted a while ago. Every lead matters.

If you want you can tell folks that you have been laid off and you are looking to get another job quickly. If you don’t want to, that’s fine too. It doesn’t matter. Most hiring managers don’t care if you got laid off or if you quit on your own terms. They care about hiring for skills — remember, at a basic level this is a contractual job market. Companies need some skills. You have some skills. Both parties are just trying to find the right match.

Humans being humans will be sympathetic, judgmental, apathetic, condescending etc. If you want to avoid the emotional baggage, you don’t need to go into why you left your previous job. If people pry too much, own the truth and tell them that it’s the previous company’s loss. Not yours.

Prepare diligently for interviews

As you line up potential opportunities from your network, put your full focus on interview preparation. Now is a good time to seek the help of all your friends who offered to do mock interviews for you. Get membership on interview prep websites if you need to. Spend your severance amount (to the extent you can) in investing in yourself and for your next role.

I am here to help

If you are looking for Engineering Manager roles, I am happy to do mock interviews for you. I am more than happy to connect you with hiring managers in my network who are looking for fantastic folks like you! I’ve also written extensively about how best to prepare for EM interviews. DM me on LinkedIn and let’s figure out the best way we can get you unblocked.

Interview…a lot!

Until you are feeling confident about your interview performance, interview as much as you can. Even if those roles are not what you like or are roles that are more junior than your current set of experiences. If you are moving against a ticking timeline, you have to move fast. You may have to sacrifice quality for the sake of speed. Once you have interviews under your belt or offers trickling in, then you’ll be in a much better position to cherry pick the roles you like. Don’t let companies guilt-trip you into taking their offers. If companies can let you go any time, you can let them go any time. You don’t need to feel bad about getting an offer and rejecting it (as long as you are doing it respectfully).

The H1B visa timeline

If you’re on an H1B visa, you unfortunately have a hard deadline to find another job within 60 days of your last day of employment. Most companies will offer immigration support as part of their separation package. Use that. Get on a 1 on 1 call with the immigration lawyer and get them to clearly articulate your options and seek their recommendations.

I’m not an immigration lawyer and this is not legal advice. Anecdotally, these are the options I have heard (you should consult your lawyer on these):

  • If you are married and your spouse is working, you could get on your spouse’s H1B visa in an H4 status.
  • You could apply for a B1/B2 transfer, which gives you more time to legally stay in the US.
  • You could go back to your home country, and re-enter with your new I-797 once you get a new job.
  • You could move to a different country with faster immigration processes and eventually make your way back to the US if you’d like to.
  • Or the best case scenario, you find a new job within the 6o day timeline! I am told, though you should confirm with your immigration lawyer, that as long as the new company submits your petition to USCIS within the 60 day window, you are legally allowed to stay until you receive the result of your petition.

All in all, there are options. Thousands of people have gone through this before you. And thousands have found a way to make it work. Yes, it will be painful and challenging.

But you are amazing, and you got this!

You might be wondering, all this is easy to say and write in a blog post, but hard to do. Well, I can tell you that I have gone through this experience myself as well as dozens of people I know. We have all emerged out of it stronger.

Hang in there, and don’t hesitate to reach out if I can support in any way!



Srivatsan Sridharan
Srivatsan Sridharan

Engineering Manager. Part-time novelist. I write about travel, food, engineering, books, movies, and life.