Laid Off From Work? Here’s What You Should Do Next

You just lost your job. You may be devastated. You may be in denial. You may realize your work was toxic and be genuinely happy you never have to go back. Or you may not fully understand how you’re feeling.

Regardless of where your head’s at, it’s hard, and starting a job search can be even harder. Many people simply update their resume and apply for positions that look interesting. That’s one approach, but if you’re like most, you need to give yourself time to process the loss.

I’ve been in the exact spot you’re in now. I was laid off from an investment bank at a time when finance roles were hard to come by. Through personal experience, and through my work as a coach helping countless people find jobs, I’ve put together a timeline of how to handle that first week after layoffs.

DAY 1

The very first thing you should do after leaving the office is find someone to talk to. You probably won’t be in the mood to talk to everyone about your situation, but speaking with a close friend can help.

Once you’ve had the opportunity to vent, it’s time to start writing. I’m serious. Write about what just happened, how you’re feeling, how this impacts your plans, and what you might do going forward. The goal isn’t to come up with a game plan for what’s next. The goal is to capture the thoughts and emotions you’re experiencing so you won’t replay them over and over in your mind. Just write.

I recommend that every day during this period you spend at least 10 minutes journaling. Journaling consistently has been found to help people visit the doctor less, feel better, and have healthier immune function.

DAY 2

When I was unemployed, I spent days sitting on the couch. My wife would get home from work to find me in the exact spot as when she’d left in the morning.

Without the structure of a job, you’re likely to feel less productive and your well-being might suffer. That’s okay. But even if you’re not ready to start looking for work, there are other things you can do, including filing for unemployment benefits if you’re eligible. This was a step I didn’t take for a few months and I missed out on a lot of money. Don’t let that happen to you.

DAY 3

The next step is to update your resume. Depending on the condition it’s in, this may take more than a day. There are countless resources to help you here, but I’ve found The Muse to be particularly valuable.

Once you’ve updated your resume, I recommend sending it to several trusted friends or mentors for feedback. Know that resumes have evolved so you may get feedback that’s no longer relevant.

DAY 4

With your resume in good shape, let’s turn your attention to LinkedIn. Here are two articles I’ve written on how to get your profile looking amazing:

But seriously, if you’re not ready to go there yet, take another day or two.

DAY 5

Make a list of companies you’d absolutely love to work at. Start with a minimum of five, but no more than 15. Once you have this list, think about people you know at each company. LinkedIn’s a great tool to help with this as the company page will show the first and second degree connections you have at each one.

Starting with companies rather than just looking for openings will put you in the mind-set of pursuing opportunities that energize you, rather than looking for what’s available. Interestingly, most roles never get posted, and the majority of people find jobs through networking.

DAY 6

With your networking efforts underway, now you can start searching for positions. Depending on your industry, you may also find these niche job-search websites valuable.

Pro tip: Don’t forget to set up alerts on each site as this will automate a lot of your search, saving you both time and energy.

DAY 7

Make a list of 10 people you haven’t connected with in awhile and invite them to lunch or coffee. This may take you out of your comfort zone. Do it anyway.

Then, I strongly recommend sending an email to your network letting them know you’re looking. Head over to LinkedIn and click the “My Network” tab. In the top left, you’ll see your total number of connections. Select “See all.”

From this list, identify people who can help. Put them into two groups: those who’ll receive a personal note and those who’ll get a mass email. In your message, explain what you’re looking for and how they can help. The more specific you are, the better they’ll be able to help.

Final Thought

Everyone experiences layoffs differently. This is A LOT to do in your first week, so if you’re not ready to update your resume or your LinkedIn profile, that’s okay. Give yourself space. Get outside if you can. Spend time with loved ones. Read a book. Do things you enjoy that your work schedule didn’t allow. Then dive back in.

Losing your job is hard, and we all handle it in different ways. Give yourself the space you need. Be confident in how you’ve grown. You may even find a that’s better than the one you had before.

How to Set Expectations for Your Job Search After Getting Laid Off

I recently saw a post from someone in my network that shocked me.

He’d been impacted by a recent layoff and despite trying everything possible to find a new job (applying, interviewing, networking, etc.) he’d been unable to land something new.

Frustrated by his lack of success, he was ready to give up.

The shocking part was that it had been 17 days since he’d started his search. 🤯

He’d expected that after 2.5 weeks he’d have landed the job of his dreams. I wanted to give this person a dose of reality. And a hug.

Years ago when I was laid off, I was similarly optimistic. I genuinely thought I’d be out of work for a few weeks and would quickly land something better. Weeks turned into months and I wondered what was wrong with me.

I took every rejection personally. My optimism had been completely disconnected from reality. I had no idea the average job search took five months. Resetting expectations was painful.

Optimism is good. But the reality is that finding a job will take longer than you expect. And it’s going to be an emotional journey. You’ll face uncertainty and self doubt. Your confidence may be shaken at times.

But your mindset will make all the difference. Mentally prepare yourself. Put in the work. Build relationships. Show up. Control what you can control. Hustle until you’ve achieved your goal. 👊👊

Here’s an article I wrote for Fast Company about how to manage getting laid off.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. What have you done to successfully navigate a job search?