If You Get Laid Off — Now What?

How to prepare and what to do if you get laid off from your company

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If you get in a situation where your job is in jeopardy because your company is merging, shrinking, or your role is disappearing, what should you do?

First, Do not panic!

I know it sounds scary. The first time I got laid off was when the economy crashed in 2008. I had been with a company for 6.5 years and they announced a massive corporate layoff. Naturally, I was devastated. I felt helpless.

But - this can’t really be happening!?

I was hoping and waiting for the call from my manager or the COO announcing that the layoff would be reversed and that I would have my old job back or another one if I wanted. It was an established company with a startup mentality of changing course “on a dime” when needed to survive.

They had once saved their stock from tanking. Another time, they took their single digit stock price to hundreds of dollars. They were always re-inventing themselves.

…Couldn’t they pull a rabbit out of the hat this time?

I was still waiting for the call. That never happened. Instead I got to talk to HR about next steps on ending work at my company. My shoulders slumped.

…After my last day, I felt loss and was processing the sting for weeks later.

The “layoff” job loss felt personal at times. I was still in the “why me?, woe is me” phase of thinking. Then I stayed in touch and noticed my former co-workers were in the same boat or just months away from getting the “lay off” slip (domino effect). Unbeknownst to me at the time, I learned the Founders of the company even left to new ventures several years later.

Just after my last day, I kept telling myself, “Something else will open up. Something better than what I had. Be positive.”

The grim news flashing across media was that the economy wouldn’t bounce back for over 5 years. So most of the technology sector where I had been laid off, was affected.

I was left with the question, “What now?”

Was I going to have to switch careers (again)? I had switched once before.

The good news is that, after 9.5 years in the technology industry, a part of me was actually ready for a change. I was passionate about so many things. What was staring me straight in the face, was this economy affecting everyone including myself. I wanted to help the little guy affected by the economy crash. Both business owners and individuals. Instead of business-to-business, I wanted to work with the consumer (B2C).

I decided to start blogging. Back then, blogging was a new medium. YouTube was only 4 years old. I kept hearing Aussie blogger names like Darrin Rowse and Yaro Starak. My blog I started was helping those around me in my community to find cheap deals. Many people’s pockets were pinched (or they were preparing for the worst of “what if I lose my job?”).

People didn’t go out much in the beginning. You drove out around my town at that time and the restaurants were totally empty. Travel was at an all-time low. It was an uncertain time if you were an adult (out of college).

I tried to turn my fear into a positive venture. My blog took off, thousands of visitors within a few short months, many comments, tweets, the whole nine yards. I was the only one in my niche in my area.

But then… I got a personal call to move back to the area where I grew up. Oh boy! So I had to pickup and start all over again. I never expected that.

Was this a blessing in disguise? If it was, it would take years to realize.

I had to quit my blog as it was area specific. I worked full time in the trenches with small businesses after my move. Helping the little guys that were barely surviving the economy crash. I started and wrote blogs for them.

At one of those work places, I got laid off for financial economic reasons. The lay off sting for that gig wasn’t as bad, as I knew what to expect and I hadn’t been there as long as my first lay off. I had toughened up. And I experienced this one more time in my career (3 total lay offs). Now I’m not afraid of any layoffs.

If You Get Laid Off — What to Do Before You Leave Your Work?

-Get a reference from your written manager and your peers before you leave. They may not have time to write one for you (or they are not good at writing references). In those case, you should write your own and have them review and sign it. It’s much easier for them, and you get to say good things about yourself. Win-win.

A layoff, if you explain it fully, is not viewed as a negative mark against you in this day and age where companies are constantly changing course. Usually you receive sympathy and understanding from potential new employers. They sometimes apologize when they hear about your “layoff” if you genuinely saw it as a loss. They have the demeanor like they are grateful it hasn’t happened to them.

-Start looking for new job prospects while you’re still working, and during work if needed. Your employer understands you need to put food on the table and a roof over your head.

Send the word out to your network. Many jobs are found through connections, friends, and professional contacts. Open your possibilities. This is your chance to try a new field if you want to.

If you have an interview setup during the workday, try to schedule it during lunch. You still want to leave a good impression on your current employer. Be back in reasonable time or take the time off.

-Get your desk and computer in order at your work. Prepare for your last day ahead of time. It may be difficult for you, but it will be better for you as you will feel proactive and “in charge”. It’s better for your “getting over your lay off” process, to feel like you’re in control even if you’re still in a state of shock (like I was).

The Good News

The good news about a “layoff” is you will probably be compensated for some additional time after your last day, where you are not working. For example, your company may pay you for two weeks, until the end of the month, or for a few months. There’s no universal standard, but it’s common practice. Your company feels bad and they owe you for the situation and your “layoff”.

You should get paid for any vacation you did not use (sometimes accrued vacation over the years). Plus any benefits that the company offers. For example, life insurance.

In most cases, you can file for unemployment which will carry you through for weeks (like 11 weeks in my case) and help pay your rent, health insurance, or daily living expenses. Don’t be too prideful to take it. You earned it.

Your health insurance will be secure until the end of the month of your last day. And they have to offer a health insurance coverage alternative like COBRA.

All this should help out a little, for a little while. And by then, hopefully you’re back on your feel with a new opportunity.

What I Would Do Differently When Laid Off

I wish I looked at my first layoff as a positive thing from the beginning, like a sabbatical. I wish I had looked forward to my last day. As a new beginning for something. It took me weeks to feel that way. I’m glad it didn’t take me longer as it would have been wasted time. There was something on the other side.

When your life is shaken up, fear can initially creep in. Instead of negative emotions, turn it around. Think of all the things you can do now within your means, with your free time, that you couldn’t before. Maybe you can write a book? Maybe spend quality time with family members?

Maybe you can get your personal life organized and get your ducks in order until your next opportunity opens. This could happen sooner than you think.

I wrote another article about a deliberate mid-life sabbatical I took. Free time is what you make it, as we all have the same amount of time. It’s all how you look at it.

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La Dolce Vita Diary 🎉

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Inspired writer giving helpful advice for a happy and healthy life full of love, peace, joy, influence, and wisdom.

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Medium's largest active publication, followed by +730K people. Follow to join our community.

La Dolce Vita Diary 🎉

Written by

Inspired writer giving helpful advice for a happy and healthy life full of love, peace, joy, influence, and wisdom.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +730K people. Follow to join our community.

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