Getting laid off can be one of the most stressful life experiences – and it happens to most people at some point in their careers. If this happens to you, here’s what you should do next.
Phase 1 of a Layoff: Shock and Recovery
When you first find out you’re being laid off, it can be a total shock whether you anticipated it or if it’s totally unexpected. During this phase you can expect a flood of emotions or maybe even total numbness, especially in the first few weeks as you navigate this new transition and begin to recover.
What To Do In This Phase
Take care of yourself. Be sure to reach out to trusted friends and family. Let others know what’s going on with you and that you might need some support from supportive friends for awhile.
Accept that you might be feeling emotional for awhile. That’s totally normal and okay! I don’t expect a lot of yourself right away. accept you might be feeling emotional – angry, frustrated, sad for a bit. That’s normal, this phase might last from 2 weeks to 6 months for some people depending on their situation.
Remember, a lot of people panic after layoff and want to start finding something new right away. Understandable! But also, keep in mind that this is a stressful experience and takes some time to process.
Phase 2 of a Layoff: Admin Phase
Unfortunately, after experiencing a layoff, you need to get a few things done – one of which is sorting out all of the associated paperwork. Depending on your situation, you might need to apply for various benefits, such as Employment Insurance, outplacement and/or EAP services, health insurance/benefits, or anything else.
Note: Phases 1 & 2 can definitely overlap, so you might get started on the admin phase before you’re fully over the shock and recovery phase.
What To Do In This Phase
Establish timelines for benefits. To get yourself organized, figure out the timelines involved in applying for Employment Insurance and others benefits. EI often has a waiting period, so it’s good to establish what that is, then organize when and what you need to do to apply, for example.
Connect with HR. Remember HR is here to get you through this. They’ll provide you with the documentation you need to apply for any of the above mentioned programs. Don’t worry if you’re asking them the same question more than once! HR is totally aware that no one absorbs any of the information covered in the termination meeting and completely expects you to reach out with questions.
Once we’re feeling ready to get started on our job search, it’s actually important to pause for a second and do some planning. The temptation for a lot of people is to skip over this entirely and just focus intensely on finding a new job.
Phase 3 of a Layoff: The Planning Phase
I totally get it – Lots of my clients are really stressed out in this situation with bills such as mortgages to pay! But it can be really important to take that step back and plan… so you can get the right job.
As an example, lots of people decide that they want to find a job in 3 weeks… and are totally stressed out when that doesn’t happen. But the reality is that job searches usually take longer than 3 weeks and speeding through them means that you’re much more likely to take the first job in front of you rather than something you really want.
What To Do In This Phase
Put Together a Financial Plan. Preparing a financial plan will help you see how much time you can afford to take off. A lot of people panic about this, but if they sit down and actually think about it, they often realize the situation is not as urgent as they thought and there is a little more breathing room.
Think About What You Actually Want in Your Next Job.
Note: There is a temptation to apply for a job that’s at the same career level you were at. This is not necessarily what you should do, however. Especially if you’ve been at your current job for 2+ years (or more), you may actually be ready to apply for a job at the next career level. Think about it this way: if you didn’t lose your last job, what kind of job would apply for next? That’s what you should be applying for now.
Then, Create a Goal for Yourself & Make It Specific. After doing some reflection, it’s time to create a goal for your next job. As mentioned: try to make it as specific as you can, such as:
“I want to find _______________ title within ___-month time period with a target salary of $______________ working hybrid #_______ days per week, etc.”
Now that you know your goal, you can start putting together a Career Action Plan to get there. Here are ideas for the crucial items you need in your plan:
- Timelines for resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn to be updated
- Timeframes for continuing education or training upgrades
- Numbers of jobs you want to apply to per day or week
- Schedules for monthly networking meetings / informational interviews
- Plans for interview preparation and practice
- Plans for volunteer opportunities to gain additional experience
Phase 4 of a Layoff: The Action Phase
The final phase is where you put your career action plan into, well, action! In this phase, you’ll be taking action in all forms, including applying to jobs, connecting with people, brushing up on interviewing skills, and more!
Initially, especially if you’ve set your sights high, you might find you get off to a slower start. And that makes sense.. because you’re still going to be processing emotions around this and getting into a new routine… and all of this takes time.
Remember: There’s a finite number of jobs you can apply to on any given day but for many of us there’s an infinite amount of stress we can feel about the process. Important to remember that yes, we should be taking action and moving ourselves forward – especially with financial pressure! – but sitting on the computer for 12 hours straight sending out applications isn’t always productive… or even necessary.
It’s highly recommended to set a time limit every day for job search activities and then taking the rest of the time off to do things you enjoy, with a focus on rebuilding your resilience and maintaining your mental wellbeing throughout this phase.
If you find yourself getting stressed, just revisit the steps in your plan and remember – you’ve got this!
Need Some Help With That Career Action Plan?
As a Career Coach, Resume Writer, & Outplacement Provider, I’ve helped loads of clients move on from a layoff to their next role! If you’ve got questions about how I can help, don’t hesitate to reach out and schedule a 15-minute complimentary consultation to learn about my services.
Thanks for reading!
Vida Thomson, Career Coach