What to Do When You’ve Been Laid Off

Mar 11, 2021 | Career Advice, Job Search Help

It’s tough to know what to do when you’ve been laid off. It’s a shock to your system that can be similar to when you experience a medical shock. You may also feel a range of other feelings from denial to anger.

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This range of feelings can lead to difficulty focusing on what to do next. This is understandable. Being laid off is tough on the best of days.

This blog offers a step-by-step strategy to effectively deal with the shock and emotions so you can focus on what to do when you’ve been laid off!


Talk to Somebody

The first thing you should do is talk to someone. Talk to many people, even.

You need to unload your thoughts and emotions. Getting whatever you are thinking and feeling off your chest is an important part of processing what has happened.

If you feel something untoward has happened to you, you may also want to talk to an employment lawyer.


Decompress. Rest.

Allow yourself an opportunity to de-escalate from the emotions that you are feeling. Do things that help you relax. Maybe it’s taking a walk, spending time with your loved ones, or simply taking a nap.

If you allow yourself the opportunity to do this, your efforts will be more focused afterward. Taking up to a few days will speed up your process because it will allow you to be more focused.


Take Care of Administrative Items

When you are laid off, there are administrative items you need to take care of. Your workplace may need you to complete some paperwork for you to receive any funds they owe you. You also need to file with the government to get Employment Insurance benefits. You may know of other administrative items that are required for you to take care of to move things forward.

Taking care of these things first (as much as you can) after you decompress will ensure that all available cash flow is coming to you. This will reduce your stress as you plan to move on.


Make a Financial Plan

Sit down and make a financial plan. The first place to start is to determine what your monthly expenses are. Factor in everything from mortgage and bills to even allowing some discretionary spending money. Bottom line: figure out what you need to live.

Next, determine your cashflow. Add up any severance pay, employment insurance, and rainy day savings you may have available to you. Use this to determine how long you can cover your monthly expenses.

If you are looking for a good area to trim costs, the best place to start is with your monthly subscriptions. You can do this by looking at your credit card bill to see your monthly subscriptions. This is the perfect time to cancel any subscriptions you either do not need or think you can live without.

Knowing where you stand financially will help you be effective in making job search decisions.


Are You Going to Take a Break?

Now that you have a financial picture, you can ask yourself if you would like to take time off before job searching. Lots of people choose to take a month or two (or longer!) to spend time with loved ones or reflect before diving back into the job market.

If this is something that you have thought about, you can use your financial plan to determine if it is possible and how long you can take time off.

If you want to and can afford it, by all means, you should. You will thank yourself later for using that time how you wanted to.


Make a Job Search Routine

Come up with a daily routine that will allow you to effectively search for your next job. This means scheduling time for rest, family, administrative items, and exercise before you block off time for the job search.

It sounds counter-intuitive to prioritize things not directly related to your job search, but it will pay off in the end.


Lean In to What You Want to Do Next

It’s a great idea to sit down and ask yourself ‘what do I want to be when I grow up?’. The goal is to target the types of jobs that will bring you fulfillment moving forward in your career. You want to think of things that give you something when you do them.

One way to find something that will bring you fulfillment is to take a psychometric test. Psychometric tests can help identify areas for you where you will excel and have a natural aptitude.

One great way to do this is to list all of the things you did in your last job. For each item, determine if it was a “get to do” or a “have to do”.

A “get to do” is something that you enjoyed doing. A “have to do” is something that felt like a burden, but you did it because it had to be done.

You can start prioritizing job postings that have more “get to do’s” than “have to do’s” and fit the results of a psychometric test.

One other rule of thumb for prioritizing jobs to apply for is to choose postings that you meet 80% of the criteria for or higher.

For more insight on a fulfilling career, here’s a blog that may help.


It’s really hard to focus on what to do when you’ve been laid off. The initial shock can make us scattered in our efforts, and for good reason.

Hopefully, this blog helps provide guide you by way of ordering some of the steps you can take if this happens to you.

If you need any help with this kind of situation, I am here for you!

Tim Dyck
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