So, You Got Laid Off—Here’s *Exactly* What to Do Next
Recession

So, You Got Laid Off—Here’s *Exactly* What to Do Next

From tech world mass-firings to that friend getting real in your LinkedIn feed, it feels like everyone is getting laid off lately. And it’s rough. Finding out that you no longer have a job is kind of like going through a breakup. Even if you saw it coming, the sudden change in routine, the confusion and sense of rejection can wreck your self-esteem and send you into a stress-filled spiral of self doubt. But it can also be a transformative time that pushes you to try something new or make a radical change. This week on Girlboss, we’re talking all about getting laid off—and how to bounce back.

You get laid off over Zoom on a random Tuesday morning and suddenly, your world is turned upside down. You’re in shock. You’re pissed off. You’re feeling completely lost. Career coach and personal finance expert Mandi Woodruff-Santos knows exactly what you’re going through. She was laid off from her first big-girl job in New York City, fresh out of journalism school. Woodruff-Santos was only at the job for three months, but decided to make the most of her summer of newfound freedom. She didn’t realize that it would take her months—yes, months—to find her next job. “I think it's particularly hard for people early in their careers,” says Woodruff-Santos, “because at that point, you don't have a super-strong network and you don't have a ton of work experience.” 

Whether it’s your first job or tenth job, getting laid off still sucks. Woodruff-Santos shares her step-by-step guide to help you navigate the messy journey of unexpected unemployment.

What to do the day after being laid off

Let the news sink in and feel all of the feels. “It really sucks. It can be super demoralizing. And no matter what anyone says, it's nothing that you did wrong,” says Woodruff-Santos. “I want people to understand that so that they don't tie up their self worth in their employment. You have to find your self worth in other ways.”

Try to get to a place of acceptance. “What you have is an opportunity and a new chapter that is starting in a way that you didn't control,” she says. For control freaks, this can be disorienting, like, ‘This was not in my five-year plan.’”

Reach out to your colleagues who have also been laid off. “If you're in the same city, plan to get a drink together,” she says. “Even if you're remote, get together virtually and reflect on what's happened. Talk about the good times and take some time to just let it marinate.”

Do not start applying for jobs right away. “Your headspace is so important to your job prospects and to people wanting to work with you,” says Woodruff-Santos. “If you have this air of frantic desperation, which you may have the first day that you're laid off, that's not going to really appeal to recruiters and hiring managers.

What to do the week after being laid off

Figure out what you want in your next job. “‘Did I plan to have this break in my career? No.’ But maybe you didn't love what you were doing, or maybe you were already thinking about leaving and pursuing something different,” she says. “Have some quiet time to really reflect on what it is that you want next.”

Analyze your financial situ. “Look at your severance package, if you were fortunate to be granted one and understand how long this money can last,” says Woodruff-Santos. “‘What are some changes to my expenses that I can make today to make this money stretch longer, so I have time for my job search?’ Maybe it's moving back in with your folks or a roommate, or cutting some subscriptions. Just anything that you can do to make that severance money stretch. I like to fight fear with facts.”

Research unemployment in your state. “Let's say you weren't granted severance, you could apply for unemployment insurance which is a weekly benefit for people who have become unemployed,” she says. “Go to your State Department of Labor's website and call the hotline to figure out those next steps. And I encourage you to hang up your pride and take advantage of those free resources. Do what you can to give yourself a financial cushion.”

Harness the power of LinkedIn. “Having a social media moment where you can comment on your colleagues’ posts and offer support, that matters, too,” she says. “Oh, and if you’re not LinkedIn connections with your colleagues, definitely add them all. Now you’re in the same trenches together. You’re able to be emotional support for each other as you enter this journey.”

Share your story on social media.  “Writing about your experience and how you're feeling can be a great step,” says Woodruff-Santos. “It has that unifying effect and makes you feel less alone.”

Tell your network that you’re available. “Maybe at that point, you know exactly what it is that you want to do, and you can say that in your email or LinkedIn DM,” she says. “Or if you're still not quite sure, you can also say, ‘I've been doing [insert old job], but I'm excited for the opportunity to explore [insert new job],’ and kind of leave that door open.”

Take a break, if you’re able to. It could be a week, a month—whatever your financial situation allows. “Take some time to not be tied to a schedule,” says Woodruff-Santos. “And it could be an opportunity for you to do some light job searching—like not applying, but just going and poking around, seeing what's available and bookmarking opportunities that seem interesting to you to really start to cultivate an idea of what you would want to do next without the pressure.”

Dust off your resumé. “Go through it and make sure that the impact that you had in that role is evident across the resume,” she says. “So, not just your tasks and responsibilities, but what was accomplished, what was earned and what was changed because of the role that you played.” You’ll want to note these things for your future job interviews too.

What to do the month of being laid off

Leverage your connections. “When you find an opportunity that you're interested in, and you also know someone who works there, email them a link to the job description and the application so that they don't have to do much work,” says Woodruff-Santos.

Practice interviewing. “If you are someone who hasn't interviewed in several years, interview practices may have changed,” says Woodruff-Santos. (The STAR method: situation, task, action, result is really popular these days for behavioral interviews.) “Do a little bit of research into the company that you're applying for and what their interview practices may be.”

Be patient (and know that your next job is out there). The more senior the role or opportunity, the more rare it is. If you’re high up on your career ladder, it might take longer to find a dream fit than if you were in a more junior position. And that’s ok! “The new job numbers were like 400,000,” she says. “The market is still really competitive, and a lot of folks are still getting great jobs.”

Remember: Your timeline is just that—yours. Consider this a guide, keep in mind that there's no one perfect schedule to navigating this time in your career. You got this.

READ MORE
7 Women on What It's Like to Get Laid Off
Think This, Not That: 4 Affirmations to Tell Yourself After Getting Laid Off
A Lawyer's Best Tips for Navigating Severance