How to Get Back on Your Feet After a Layoff


There’s no way around it: Getting laid off feels terrible. And it’s unfortunately in the air these days — tons of industries are seeing reduced workforces. 

But a layoff doesn’t have to knock you over so hard that you can’t get back up. With some pre-planning, a cool head, and concrete action, you can regroup after a layoff and land in a new role that might be even better than where you started.


Preparing for a layoff means taking action before reductions start.

There are telltale signs layoffs are coming: Higher-ups might ask you to make a list of your duties. New leadership might come in with promises of restructuring. You might see other cost-cutting measures in place — that’s usually not a great sign. Here’s what to do when a layoff seems imminent:

  • Get out and start talking to people.
    Now is the time to network, network, network. If you’ve started the job search process before your layoff happens — and networking is a key step in the job hunt — you’ll be steps ahead once you find yourself available. Networking doesn’t have to be painful: Even texting your old boss from a few jobs ago to tell them you’re on the market counts.
  • Revamp your resume.
    So many people understandably dread working on their resumes, but the work you do upfront will massively pay off. Update your resume with your latest role, and remember to include any new skills you’ve learned since you last applied for jobs. 
  • Prepare yourself to feel badly — and then move on.
    A layoff is deeply emotional: It’s scary, it’s frustrating, and it’s sad. You’re probably going to feel pretty low in that first week, and I don’t blame you! Make a plan for how to take care of yourself as you cycle through emotions, and then set an intention to transition to looking ahead. 


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Handle your layoff with grace — and protect yourself, too.

So you’ve been called into the room with HR and your manager. They deliver the news: You’re part of the force reduction as you suspected. Alarm bells might be going off in your head, but you can’t shut down. Here’s how to handle it:

  • Do what you can to keep your cool.
    Deep. Breaths. 
  • Find out your severance and ask when you’ll receive your last paycheck.
    This can vary state to state, so you can’t assume you’ll have severance. Ask for everything in writing.
  • Ask if you’ll be paid out for unused paid time off or sick leave.
    PTO or sick leave can also vary state to state and company to company — it’ll all depend on your workplace’s policies.
  • Find out how long your insurance will be covered.
    This is a big one, and I’ll repeat myself: Get this in writing.


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Take care of yourself while you’re on the job hunt.

While you’re waiting to find full-time employment, you can do a number of things to ease the transition:

  • File for unemployment immediately.
    Rules on this vary from state to state, and some states make you refile every single week. Set an alarm or a calendar reminder so you don’t miss out on income!
  • Consider taking on temp work — which you can find through a staffing agency.
    It’ll bring in some income while you’re between jobs, which can ease some of the stress you’re feeling.
  • Schedule job application time.
    Set aside a specific amount of time each day or week to apply. And stick to it — the desire to find a new job might lead you to think you should spend all day every day applying, but you’ll drive yourself crazy and burn out. It’s a long game, and you need to pace yourself. 
  • Develop your skills.
    If you have time on your hands, use this time to upskill by watching Youtube videos, reading instructional books, or using free apps to learn a new language. 
  • Focus on rebuilding your confidence.
    Remember that layoffs are largely beyond your control and they aren’t an indication of your value or performance. Consider meditation apps, pursuing a hobby you love, or repeating affirmations. You’re not broken because you got laid off, and you shouldn’t be beating yourself up because of it.


Layoffs are an inescapable part of the working world — an unpleasant one, to be sure. But you can get back on your feet, especially if you’re kind to yourself in the process.