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10 Steps to Take After Getting Laid Off


Receiving the bad news that you’ve been laid off is like having a dark cloud ruin a perfectly sunny day.

If you don’t have your next job lined up, getting laid off is terrifying. Your mind is rushing with thoughts on what to do next and how you’re going to pay the bills. The future seems blurry.

But it doesn’t need to be! As an executive recruiter, we’ve seen many job-seekers aimlessly drift about, unsure of what to do. To land on your feet, you need a proven path of action. Whether you’ve been freshly laid off, or you feel your departure is imminent, today’s blog post gives you 10 proven steps to take.

1. Get In Touch With a Recruiter

As soon as you get laid off, be pragmatic and find a quality recruiter. The responsibility of the recruiter is to “sell” you to hiring managers. They will find the best jobs that can use your talents, and in many cases they can accelerate the amount of time it takes to land new work. And if you have experience as an executive, contact an executive recruiter who can place you in a top managerial or executive position.

2. Collect Your Final Paycheck

Know the details of your compensation package and when your final paycheck will be issued. Even if you’ve been terminated, the payment should still arrive on time and without any issues. You may also be entitled to sick pay, accrued vacation pay, and overtime pay, so it’s important that you clarify what you’re owed pay with your employer.

3. Get References

Even though you’ve been laid off, it doesn’t hurt to ask for written references— especially if your termination was due to no fault of your own. A good reference can come through in the clutch if the potential employer has questions about your job performance.

4. Rework the Resume

If you held your past job for a long period of time, it’s likely that your resume needs a touch-up. Review your resume and read it thoroughly several times. Imagine you were an employer. Would you hire the individual behind the resume? The average resume is mediocre because it is poorly presented and non-descriptive. To craft a better resume, design it with an attractive template. With each job title and accomplishment, make sure you accurately describe your role to paint the picture for the person reading it.

5. Craft a Cover Letter

Many professionals assume employers merely skim over the cover letter and throw it to the side. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Many employers pay good attention to the cover letter. Ironically, it’s where many individuals trip up on the job application process. Here’s where many fail: they simply rehash the resume. Where the resume should list your accomplishments, the cover letter should tell the employer exactly who you are, your core competencies as an individual and employee, your passion for their business and how exactly you can provide value to the position. The person reading the letter should be able to easily envision you in the role based on what’s inside the letter. Be honest, be descriptive, and be persuasive.

6. Hit the Network

If you haven’t already, it’s time to let your network know that you’re looking for work. Reach out to friends, past colleagues, and family members. The people in your network are your best ambassadors to future employers, and if you can properly leverage your network, there are reasonable chances you won’t be out of work long. Studies indicate that over 85% of all job positions are filled through networking, so don’t be afraid to inform people of your job status.

Again, if you get in touch with a headhunter, you can use their existing network to quickly find new work.

7. Leverage LinkedIn

To piggyback off the last point, the quality of your network will determine how fast you you’re your next gig. LinkedIn is the best social platform to connect with recruiters and employers, but you want to make sure your profile is optimized to land new work. Follow these simple guidelines when touching up your LinkedIn:

  1. Write a clear, concise summary of who you are, your core specialties, and your value to employers.
  2. Have multiple skills listed in the profile (at least three)
  3. Have a decent profile picture. You don’t need to be in a suit and tie, but you should look presentable, and the picture should be clear.
  4. Provide your contact information (phone/email) in your professional summary
  5. Include all positions on your resume
  6. Have at least 50-100 connections

8. Articulate Why You’re On the Job Hunt

“Why are you out of work?” This is a pretty common question you’ll encounter when you’re on the hunt for a new job, and it’s something you need to have an answer for when it’s asked. Don’t make the mistake of skirting around the question; instead, answer it head-on. If you’ve been laid off because your department got downsized, you can say, “My past employer downsized my department. Unfortunately, I lost my job in the process”. That’s it. You don’t have to give the entire history of your department, you simply need to give enough information to satisfy the curiosity of whoever is asking.

9. Prep for Interviews

A poor interview will deflate your chances like a popped balloon. To avoid bombing an interview, follow these two steps:

  1. Know your audience. Before you walk into the interview, thoroughly research the company. Look at its history. Go beyond the company’s website by asking people in your network if they’ve worked and interacted with them. Use Google to look at news and press releases related to the company. If you have the name of the person conducting the interview, look them up on LinkedIn.
  2. Prepare for common interview questions. Most interviews will have basic questions you’ll need to be prepared for. We’ve talked about this in-depth on a previous post, so make you read and follow the tips there.

10. Remain Calm

We know being out of work is stressful. You’re unsure of what the future holds, and the job market seems unforgiving and unstable. Understand this feeling will only be temporary. If you stay calm, remain active while you’re on the hunt, get in contact with an executive search firms like Talentfoot, and follow the tips in this blog post, you’ll be back to work in no time.