Where to Start After You've Been Laid Off

John Scott
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Layoffs occur in large and small companies alike, and it is difficult to know exactly what to do next in such unstable times. Know what to do to take charge of your life after a layoff, and begin your career search with these important tips.


Begin your life after a layoff when you receive the news. Many human resources offices provide severance packages, and some companies even have professional development packages. An industry professional tells those in this situation to negotiate four weeks worth of pay for each year at the company. Make sure that you receive pay for any unused vacation time as well. Read through the documents from human resources thoroughly, and verbally affirm the elements of the package. Remember, there is no way to hurt your current job by asking for more.

Calm Down

Even if you expect it, life after a layoff is stressful and even depressing for some. Do not let emotions get in the way of a graceful exit, as it might influence a future recommendation. Avoid discussing the matter with co-workers or doing anything you regret later. Speak to your family and close friends out of the office. It is natural to experience anger and sadness.

Adjust your Finances

The American Association of Retired Persons recommends that you take a look at your budget and savings after a layoff. Reduce your spending immediately after a layoff even though you receive a severance. This helps prepare you in case you do not find new employment before your severance ends. Cut out non-essential items from your budget. Familiarize yourself with the rules for unemployment insurance in your state. Know how long you have to file an application and begin to file, if necessary.


Before you start your career search, look at your layoff as an opportunity to decide if you are on the right path. A career specialist in an article in Forbes Magazine suggests that you take a few days to assess your priorities and interests. Write down your accomplishments and rank them in order or interest. Ask yourself what you want to do in the next year and beyond. Use these exercises to isolate your interests and career heading. Adjust your career goals to include a new industry, additional education or anything that you discover during contemplation.

Update your Resume

Now is the time to update your resume to reflect new career goals and experience from your previous employer. Look over your resume to determine if you need to reformat the document, make corrections or update the language. Have friends, family or a career specialist look it over. Save some cash and send your resume to your old university's career development center. Many colleges offer free resume and cover letter assistance for alumni.

Come out of your layoff experience in a better mindset and with a clear career direction. Stay active while you are out of work, and join a community group or volunteer. Keep your focus on the future and doing what makes you happy to handle your life after a layoff like the professional you are.

Photo courtesy of Winnond at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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  • Philip V.
    Philip V.

    Even more than age, the very fact you're unemployed (no matter the reason) disqualifies you from many positions. I've had it happen multiple times where the initial call from HR rep takes a bad turn after they find out you're not currently working.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Denise - I have wondered the same thing. I would think that companies would want the experience regardless of age. Older workers have that experience as well as being seasoned in the workplace. Hopefully this dynamic will change as more companies realize that they need the older workers!

  • ahmed m.
    ahmed m.

    I'll keep that in mind thanks.

  • Denise L.
    Denise L.

    Regardless of experience, age seems to play a major role in not being hired for that position in which one is very qualified to perform. Do companies want seasoned employees who practice a professional work ethic?

  • Mildred G.
    Mildred G.

    I have met many people who did not really expect their professional future to be so restricted by experience and age. We had moved into the technological age with great expectations and invested in learning new ways of marketing, providing services, communicating and measuring results. What we did not anticipate was that the aging professional was going to been seen as out of touch, even though we were very up to speed. What advice do you have regarding this type of layoff.

  • Mildred G.
    Mildred G.

    All the advice listed is standard operating procedure and good advice. Of course staying calm is easier when you are young professional and just move on to the next job. When you have been in management roles for a long time and are laid off the experience is more profoundly felt. Options are not so available. Time becomes very relevant.

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