Just Been Laid Off? Keep Calm and Read This Checklist

woman looking through finances and laptop

Adobe Stock / Wayhome Studio

June 23, 2024 at 10:20PM UTC
You were just laid off. We feel for you. It’s happened to a lot of us — a study conducted by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University found that one-fifth of U.S. workers have experienced a layoff in the years since the recession. Of course, the knowledge alone that others have had a taste of this misfortune probably isn’t enough to ease the shock you’re going through, or help you figure out what to do next.
When it comes to the steps to take following a layoff, time is of the essence. Here’s a checklist you can get started on today that can guide you until you’re back on your feet again (and that will happen).

12 steps to take when you get laid off

1. Network.

Let your personal network know what’s happened, and reach out to anyone from the company who you had a good relationship with, as well. These people will be your professional references and can likely help alert you to job openings ASAP.

2. File for unemployment.

Even if you believe you’ll have a job again within a few weeks, there’s a lot of red tape and waiting involved with this process. Get it out of the way ASAP.

3. Understand the legality of what just happened.

This is mostly a precaution. In the large majority of cases, employers maintain the right to dismiss you under any circumstance. One significant example of this not being the case is if you’ve been discriminated against.

4. Read the terms of your severance.

Upon being let go, you were probably offered severance pay. Read the fine print and understand that by signing this, you’re more than likely signing away any potential right to sue.

5. Budget.

Factoring in your unemployment benefits and severance pay, it’s now time to make a budget. Use these budget worksheets to help you formulate a realistic budget that doesn’t ride on the assumption you’ll be employed again in two weeks.

6. Consider the future.

Once your immediate financial needs have been considered, take a step back to reflect. Maybe the position you were just laid off from was your dream job, or maybe you already had your two weeks notice in hand. Do you want to continue on in the same direction, or is it maybe time to change careers? If you’ve always wanted to start your own business, maybe now is the time.

7. Overhaul your resume.

Based on whatever you decide, it’s time to either refresh or reboot your resume. Use these resume tips and templates to make yours up-to-date and enticing.

8. Perfect your elevator pitch. 

Maybe it’s been a while since your last encounter with interview questions and answers. Remember how to sell yourself.

9. Review the job search process.

Similarly, if it’s been a minute since you last conducted a job search, take some time to reacquaint yourself with today’s career resources for women. Utilizing LinkedIn is a must, of course, but there are plenty of other great sites out there nowadays.

10. Put yourself out there.

The temptation to stay home all day doing nothing besides sending out job application emails can be considerable. So much of our identity becomes tied to what we do professionally, and chances are you want to be gainfully employed again ASAP. But try not to rush into any ol’ offer purely for the sake of having a job again.

11. Be kind to yourself.

Show yourself some love. Drown out that nagging little voice telling you you've failed with positive affirmations and supportive people. The days ahead will be difficult, to be sure, but it’s also an opportunity to prove your own mettle. And a new, maybe even better!, job will come.

12. Take a break.

Seek out inspiration wherever you can find it, and take breaks from the rigors of your search whenever needed. Take a long walk, eat your favorite dessert, and get in the bath. This too shall pass, sister.

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