Back To Career News

7 Ways to Survive a Layoff

Topics: Career Advice
Image Credit: Pexels /

Brace yourself. You’ve just been laid off. So… what now? How do you survive a layoff?

As much as employers try to candy coat the layoff process (or throw an amenable George-Clooney type at you) it still hurts. You’re emotional, panicked, ticked off and not a little bit worried about the future. So how can you come out a survivor? Keep your head and follow these tips:

1. Get it in writing

The blood is rushing in your ears, and you may not be thinking straight. A big corporate layoff likely comes with some prepared materials like a “going away packet” with details on what to expect, but a small single layoff might be a bit more informal. If you’re wondering about your last day, last check, or last month of company healthcare, you want to get those questions answered in writing before you leave the room. Keep details straight and be able to answer questions at home when you talk to friends and family later.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”If you’re wondering about your last day, last check, or last month of company healthcare, you want to get those questions answered in writing before you leave the room.” quote=”If you’re wondering about your last day, last check, or last month of company healthcare, you want to get those questions answered in writing before you leave the room.”]

Do You Know What You're Worth?

2. Don’t panic

The worst thing you can do is flip out. Your emotions are going haywire, but no matter how upset you are, you want to avoid doing or saying anything you’d regret later. Remember, this is a layoff and you could still receive compensation, a positive recommendation, and even the possibility of returning once things turn around for the company. Deep breaths. You’ll get through this.

3. Take some time for yourself

The day after…sleep in. Take a walk in the morning and get yourself a bit of exercise. Call up some friends and take them up on an offer for a drink or a friendly cup of coffee. Read a book you’ve been putting off finishing. Take some time to relax and don’t jump right into the rigors of the job search all in one go. Clearing your head and having some “me time” is important to keep yourself centered, and it will make the coming life changes easier to handle. Whenever you feel stress creeping up as the days go on, just go back to those small “me” moments to find your happy again.

4. Tell everyone you’re looking for work

Whether you put out the word on social media, or just start emailing or calling friends and contacts, start making those connections. Accept cocktail hour networking invites, reach out to old school alumni chums, and generally run the flag up the flagpole that you’re ON THE HUNT for a new job. Layoffs generally mean you were let go for reasons outside of your control, so it’s easy to put a positive spin on your present re-entry into the job seeking public. Have an elevator pitch (two-to-three sentences) ready to go to talk about your background, your skills and what you’re looking for.

5. Remember to file for unemployment

Anything that requires crazy amounts of paperwork can drive you a little nuts, and unemployment is generally no exception. If you need help, ask friends for advice on how they navigated the system. Accept all requests for in-person meetings, assistance, training and more from your local unemployment office (some of them will be mandatory, so don’t just blow them off because you feel like you don’t “need it”).

6. Brush up that resume and talk to recruiters

You should take this opportunity to revise revise revise that resume. Get multiple versions going depending on jobs you might apply for in different sectors, or just formats that translate better to online application software that will scrub all your personal data from it, or one that’s designed to visually impress and stand out from the crowd. Get business cards you can hand out. Start talking to headhunters or recruiters to get just 10 minutes of their time. You’d be amazed how fast you can connect with someone when you just want to say hello and introduce yourself. They get paid when they find you work! They WANT to meet you. Ask their advice about job hunting (they know a lot) and don’t be afraid to check in with them every few weeks to remind them you’re still looking.

7. Accept help

Don’t be brave. Let family treat you or loan (or even give) you a little cash to get you by. Accept offers for dinners over at a neighbor’s house. Allow friends to babysit for free so you can get out and have some time to focus on your professional life. Don’t be afraid to ask for cheaper options for healthcare or dental plans so you don’t go without coverage, but perhaps save on your monthly premiums. Talk to insurance brokers (they’re free to use) to shop plans. Get advice from internet super couponers on saving cash on groceries. Buy generic! The pride you’re swallowing will taste better when you’re not making choices on either toilet paper OR cereal. It’s going to be OK.

Bottom line, getting laid off sucks. Bigtime. But you’re awesome, and you can do this.


What did we miss? What’s your helpful layoff survival tip? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Leave a Reply

Notify of
What Am I Worth?

What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing.