What to Do If You Are Fired or Laid Off

Imagine the worst has happened at work: you’ve been fired or laid off. Whatever the cause, when you’re out of a job with no immediate replacement lined up, it can be very stressful. Just remember to focus, try not to panic, and create a plan of action. If you do these things, you’ll find that you just might land better than expected.

It’s true that often there will be warning signs before a layoff occurs at a company, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, it can take you by surprise. Many people don’t like to think about worst-case scenarios, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for what you would do if such a situation occurs. In fact, by considering these scenarios beforehand, you’ll respond more appropriately if the time ever comes.

Emotions are high when you leave a job, especially if you’re fired or laid off. One of the most important things to remember is to keep your calm and maintain your professionalism. This is not the time to burn bridges! There may be people at the company who you have to look to for references or support down the line. Plus, they’re not likely to have a positive reaction if their last memory is of you shouting or storming out. As difficult as it might be, control your emotions. You want to leave a positive impression on your former coworkers. After all, the majority of new jobs are found through networking, so it makes sense to keep your options open.

On the day in question, you’re likely to receive a lot of confusing information at once. Just remember a few basic points:

  • Depending on the company, you may be able to negotiate the severance package they offer you. Regardless, you are not required to sign any paperwork the day of.
  • Now is the time to ask about bonuses, 401ks, stock options, and more. You’ll have access to that information later on as well, but it’s often more difficult to get answers when you’re no longer an employee.
  • Find out what will happen to your items. Are you allowed to pack up your own desk or are you only allowed to take personal effects home that day?
  • If you receive health insurance through your work, find out how much longer (if at all) you’ll receive coverage now that you’re no longer an employee.

For many people, adjusting to life without the daily work routine can be difficult. Give yourself some time to take it all in, if you need it, but don’t get lost in an unproductive hole of self-pity. Instead, set up a schedule at home and dedicate time every day to work on your resume, meet up with contacts, job interviews, and submit job applications. Treat these tasks as you would any other job and stick to the schedule you set for yourself. That means work when it’s time to work, but also take time out of your day to rest and recuperate. Searching for new employment can be tiring and stressful.

Now is the time to brush up on your networking skills. Make sure everyone around you knows you’re looking for a new job. Meet colleagues and acquaintances for coffee to pick their brains and ask for advice. Put your friends and family to work as practice interviewers. If you still have a good relationship with your former managers, ask them to write you letters of recommendation which you can include with your job applications.

The journey may seem difficult, but in my experience, people come out better. I’ll be happy to guide you along the way. For more advice or career guidance, be sure to contact me here.