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What to Do After You Get Laid Off

Receiving the news that you have been laid off can be devastating. A sense of panic sets in as you immediately start thinking “What am I going to do?” 


We understand how painful and life-altering this news can be. First — take a deep breath. You’re going to be ok. Lay-offs are something many people experience during their lifetime. In 2020, unemployment rose to nearly 15%.1 This was mostly due to so many people losing their jobs due to COVID-19.2 You are not alone, and there are clear, simple steps you can follow to protect your lifestyle and assets while looking for new employment. 


What does it mean to be laid off?

When you are laid off, you likely lost your position not because of personal performance issues, but because of changes within the company. Perhaps the company is downsizing or going out of business, or maybe your position or department was dissolved as part of a merger or move. The basic laid off meaning is the termination or suspension of your employment for business reasons. 


There are some cases where the lay-off may be temporary, which means that you may be able to regain your job if the economy improves. 

Laid off vs. fired

When it comes to losing your employment, semantics matter. Why? Because the terminology of your termination may determine eligibility for unemployment benefits or future employment. As mentioned, getting laid off is not usually due to any fault of your own. Getting fired, on the other hand, is the fault of the employee. 


Perhaps you broke a company policy, were not meeting your employer’s standards, or maybe you came into work late one too many times. Getting fired is a more permanent status than getting laid off. After you’re fired, the company you formerly worked for is highly unlikely to hire you again. 


Conversely, if they lay you off because of business financial reasons, there is a possibility that your job, or similar role, may become available to you in the future. 

Request a laid-off letter from HR

Unemployment benefits are usually available to those who have been laid off or furloughed, not fired. You will need a letter from your employer’s HR department explaining the reasons for termination, as well as stating the last day of scheduled work and next steps regarding benefits and pay. 


Following a lay-off, ask your HR department for a letter detailing the circumstances of your termination. Read it thoroughly to make sure all of the information in the letter is accurate. 

What to do after you are laid off?

Part of the fear of a lay-off comes from not knowing what to do next. How are you going to pay your bills? What are you going to do to replace your health insurance? There are a lot of questions to answer. 


Here are some steps explaining what to do after you get laid off.

1) Adjust and figure out your finances

After losing your income due to a lay-off, immediately adjust your expenses to save money where possible. You may have to sell some of your assets, end subscriptions, and/or cut back on discretionary spending. 

2) Take time for yourself

Take a deep breath and relax for a second. It is natural to experience a lot of emotions, and that’s ok. You probably feel like you need to run 100 mph in order to find a new position, but pausing before you rush into a new job can help you properly grieve the lay-off and ensure that you’re making the best decision for your next position. 

3) Identify opportunities to apply for benefits

You don’t need to have a full-time job in order to access benefits. There are lots of different health plans, insurance plans, and other benefits that you can enroll in without being employed. View some of our insurance offerings here.

Searching for jobs post unemployment

Getting laid-off can make you feel powerless. Oftentimes, there really isn’t anything you can do to keep your job since circumstances were out of your control. Beginning the job hunt helps give you back some of the power and control you might feel like you’re missing. You can decide how to design your resume, which jobs to apply to, and how to present yourself during interviews. It’s a fresh start — a time that is typically exciting but also nerve-racking. 


If you’re wondering where to start, we have a few tips for you after you just go laid off: 

1) Use connections to move to another field

Studies show that more than 70% of people enter new jobs because of networking and connections.3 That means that your odds of finding a new job will likely be higher if you leverage your network than if you solely submit your resume to jobs offered online.

Your connections may lead you to a job or career that is drastically different than the one you just left. Keep an open mind!

Another idea is to start a business of your own or do contract work based on your skillset. If you’ve had a business idea in the back of your mind, have you considered trying to launch it? There are many pros and cons to owning a business or doing contract work. Learn more about how to start one here.

2) Search for industries in high demand

Job security feels extra sweet after a lay-off, and one of the best ways to achieve job security is to enter a secure industry. Research the careers that are in high-demand now, and are still expected to be 15 or 20 years from now. You may also want to consider these recession-proof industries.4 

3) Boost your skills

Technology has completely changed the way we access knowledge and information. You can learn just about anything from articles, e-books, online courses, videos, and more. If you are interested in learning a new skill, go for it! Chances are, there is a way to improve your skill set from the comfort of your own home. 


Getting laid off is painful, but you can ease the blow by taking the initiative. Take these steps to protect yourself after you get laid off.