What to do when you get laid off

It’s been a few weeks now since I was laid off from my full time job. This was the first time I had ever lost a job. I had known for awhile that my time with the company was coming to an end and I wasn’t being fulfilled or truly appreciated as an employee, but I also wasn’t going to choose to leave before I had something else set up and ready.

So what do you do when the lay off happens and you don’t have another job ready and waiting on the back burner?

Feel the feelings

I mentioned that I saw this coming. I wasn’t taken entirely off guard, though I obviously hoped I wasn’t going to be one of the first they would choose. Regardless, when it happened there were a LOT of feelings. I was mad and upset; I was worried, concerned, and scared; I was relieved and hopeful. I’m sure there were even more feelings but those show the wide range. I let myself cry. I let myself get mad and vent to my boyfriend, friends, and family. I felt the whole wide range of feelings.

Watch your words

When we’re upset, it’s easy to say something you may later regret. While I was mad and had things I wanted to say, I knew they wouldn’t be nice and wouldn’t come out in a constructive way. I knew I didn’t want to burn any bridges. When HR looked at me and the others in my meeting, she asked if we had any questions. I asked if I could go back to my office, take a few moments to read the paperwork myself and check back in. She said yes so I got up and left. After I gathered myself together, I asked a few questions, packed up my stuff, and left. My manager and my boss reached out later that day but I didn’t respond immediately. In fact, I didn’t respond for over 24 hours. I wanted to make sure I had enough time to gather my thoughts, feel the hurt feelings, and open up a potential dialogue when I was ready.

Get your ducks in a row

I’m not going to go into the details because it can vary so much by state, but I’m basically talking about applying for unemployment, updating your resume and LinkedIn profile, and crunching the numbers to have an idea what you have to work with until you get a new job lined up. I had to wait for some paperwork to come through for health insurance and 401k options, but the things I could deal with right away, I did. This is also the time to get in any final doctor appointments before your insurance runs out. I got in for my 6 month dental cleaning a month early and made sure to see my chiropractor weekly instead of my usual bi-weekly, just in case I couldn’t get back for awhile.

Stay positive

I know it can be hard at times. I’m not going to say I’ve been a little ray of sunshine about the whole thing every single moment since it happened; I haven’t. But I can say that my attitude has been mostly positive. I can see the good in this situation; I can see how it’s pushing me towards better and more fulfilling things; I can see and feel the hope. I know I’m meant for more and I trust that things are working in my favor.

Lean on your tribe

In those moments when I’m not feeling great or when I need a little pick me up, I lean on my people. I talk through ideas and options with my parents, I share my worries with my friends, I soak up the comforting hugs from my boyfriend. Whether I’m feeling good or worried about things, I know there are people who are there for me and in return, they know I will always be there for them if they ever find themselves in a similar situation.

Keep moving forward

Eventually, we have to move forward. I let myself have the moments to reflect or look in, but I don’t let them last very long because I know I have to keep moving forward. I can’t change what happened but what I can do is keep looking for new jobs to apply to, opportunities that seem like a good fit, and journal around how I can best use this time to set myself up for success.

I wish nothing but good things for each and every single one of you. I never wish for people to lose their jobs or end up in a difficult situation, but ultimately we all know that life goes through cycles and sometimes we go through less than ideal moments. While I’m directing this conversation towards the idea of being laid off from your job, this advice actually works for a handful of situations. If you find yourself in that space, I hope you find this helpful.

How do you handle difficult situations like being laid off from a job?


24 thoughts on “What to do when you get laid off”

  1. Staying Positive is the biggest of all. when I was made redundant, I was happy for two reasons- big redundant package and opportunity to go out of my comfort zone. Though salary was really good, I was not happy with my job but so scared to leave it. Redundancy came as an opportunity with BIG return gift. At least that is how I looked at it. I’m sorry that this happened to you but hey who knows what GOOD things are coming your way. BE positive, Be happy.

  2. This is all such great advice and it sounds like you are doing all the right things and handling it pretty well. I will be sending good vibes your way that your unemployment is a temporary situation and you find a great new job soon!

  3. This is wonderful advice and I wish someone had told me these things when I lost my job in publishing. I was so young and devastated because I took it personally. Hindsight is always 20/20 though, right? I love your advice about gathering your thoughts and feelings before fielding questions and really weighing in on the situation. You need that time!

    It’ll get better and you will find something you absolutely love—I just know it, Katie. Chin up, and keep being awesome 🙂 <3

    1. I definitely still have moments of devastation and worry, but I think it’s so important to handle things in the best way possible.

  4. These are great tips, Katie! It’s very stressful when you get laid off and many people would not think about all of these points and what they need to do to ensure they can survive financially until they have something else lined up. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I have been furloughed for almost a month now. I should be going back in a few weeks. In the meantime, I looked at other positions in case I wasn’t brought back and because I am unsure of how I feel about the new position I will be placed in. I loved the position that I was in and didn’t have any warning but I did know it was labelled as a temporary position. I have had time to reflect on what I have learned and what I really want.

  6. Katie, This is such a wonderfully written post. I am so sorry about the job but each of these steps will lead you where you need to go next. Hang in there girl!!

  7. Fantastic tips. Like I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been laid off but it wasn’t a full time job some of these things weren’t applicable to me…apart from needing unemployment, some hurt feelings. and the long road to finding a new job. I know you’ll find something that’s a much better fit though, and I’m glad you have such a great support system around you!


  8. I can only imagine how hard it must be for you right now, but I think being hopeful and positive is the right approach! I’m sure wonderful things are right around the corner for you. This is a great list — you definitely handled things right. Best of luck to you!!

  9. Such thoughtful steps along the way – plus, the acknowledgment that the hurt and uncertainty still remain. I just went through this. I started my new job last week. I am so happy not only because the journey is over, but also that I’ve found a great fit, much better than where I was before.

    There’s a thought that you want to lift a middle finger collectively to those who led to your demise. I know I did. I’m glad I didn’t succumb to that. Not only because it left bridges unburned, but also because I like to think it’s a truer reflection of me to not do that.

    Also, can you send me your resume? I know some people. Just send it to the email with my comment if you’d like.

  10. Hey Katie.. we’ve had a rough couple of years. In the last 2 years Todd, Morgan & I all lost our jobs. You may be tired of hearing it, but everything really does happen for a reason. We are all in much better jobs. My health is so much better because my stress level is down. The irony is I almost cancelled the interview, but decided to suck it up & go. Boy am I glad I did. Todd works from home & loves it. Morgan has a career path & not just a job. We are all in such a better way/place. Believe me. It was very stressful & scary, but we made it. You will too. Something better is waiting for you. We never would have left our jobs & would still be in the unhealthy environments we were in. I wish you all of the best. Listen to your instincts & intuition. They made me go to the interview & again, im so happy I did. Sending love & prayers your way. ❤️

    1. This makes me so happy to hear, Melissa! I’ve stayed pretty positive through it all, but to be expected, I do have my moments. I am optimistic this needed to happen to keep me from continuing to make excuses to not leave the job that I wasn’t appreciated or feeling fulfilled anymore. Lots of love to you guys too!

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