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Getting Fired From A Job? What To Do When You Get Laid Off

Last Modified On: March 27, 2024, Author: Amy Sanchez

So you suddenly find yourself unemployed. Rest assured, you're in good company. Most anyone who has taken a risk in their career has lost their job at some point. Getting fired from a job and dealing with layoffs may feel overwhelming and uncertain, but remember, you're not alone in this experience.

First off, don't panic. It's natural to feel a sense of shock and worry when facing unemployment. However, try to take a deep breath and approach the situation with a clear mind. Panicking will only cloud your judgment and hinder your ability to move forward effectively. 'What to do when you get laid off?' is a question that everyone must prepare to answer at some point of their career even if it doesn't happen. If you don't know the importance of networking by now already, you are going to need it very much when you get laid off.

I know dealing with layoffs is easier said than done. However, once you've had some time to digest the news of getting fired from a job and process your emotions, you'll realize that you have just inherited a great gift—the opportunity for new beginnings.

Unemployment can serve as a catalyst for personal and professional growth. You might be making certain job search mistakes to keep you unemployed. It gives you the chance to reassess your career path, explore new possibilities, and discover untapped potential. Take this time to reflect on your goals, values, and passions. Use it as an opportunity to realign yourself with what truly matters to you.

Consider updating your resume, enhancing your skills through online courses or certifications, networking with professionals in your field, and exploring different industries or roles that align with your interests. Embrace the chance to reinvent yourself and pursue avenues that you may not have considered before. If you live or planning to shift in bay area, here are 5 insights about the bay area job market that will be really helpful to you in your job search.

Remember, setbacks are often stepping stones to something better. Embrace the process of rediscovering your professional path, and have faith in your ability to bounce back. With determination, perseverance, and a positive mindset, you can turn this challenging situation into an opportunity for growth, learning, and ultimately, a brighter future. Let's find out the answer to what to do when you get laid off.

Dealing With Layoffs - Unemployment Offers Surprising Opportunities

For the first time in x number of years, you have some time off to be your own boss. You can clear your head, step away from the endless perpetual cycle of emails, and spend time reflecting on where you’ve been and where you want to go.

I know what you’re thinking, “But I just lost my job. I’m freaking out!!!” This is a natural response at first… I wasn’t able to see the positive immediately after it happened to me either…

I worked in marketing for a small start-up in Silicon Valley with a promising technology in a space that hadn’t seen innovation in 30+ years and there were many disgruntled consumers who were craving a new solution. We had all the factors in place to be the next Google.

One minor detail that held us back - the technology didn’t really work. No matter how great our marketing campaigns had been in getting consumers into the funnel, they ultimately fell out at alarming rates because of the inferior efficacy of the technology.

Eventually, they let the marketing team go. I wasn’t surprised, I had seen the writing on the wall.  Nevertheless, when I heard the news, it was hard to contain the emotions that inevitably bubbled up.  I went home that day, poured myself a glass (or two, or three) of wine, and starred at the wall for at least an hour. What next?!?

Eventually, I did some traveling, brushed up my resume, started applying for jobs and ended up with two promising roles to choose from (don’t worry if it does take a while - have faith that everything will work out).  But here’s what I learned through that process.

How to Bounce Back From Being Downsized and Attract the Best Opportunities

When you've been fired from a job, try to say goodbye to your co-workers and superiors with as much dignity as you can muster.

Extending this small courtesy at such a difficult time speaks volumes about your professionalism and actually encourages your advocates and allies to continue their relationships with you, which can be beneficial to all involved.

And you may experience that benefit sooner than you anticipate because many, many times, these will be the people who will help you find your next gig or provide the recommendations that help you land your dream job. If you are looking for CEO level position and don't know if you need an MBA to be a CEO, you should definitely begin your research on educational requirements for the position you are going to apply for.

The people who have supported you throughout your career can become invaluable assets in your job search. By expressing gratitude and staying connected with them, you not only strengthen your professional network but also increase the likelihood of receiving referrals, recommendations, and leads for potential opportunities after getting fired from a job. This should be the ideal approach when dealing with layoffs in your company.

Your advocates and allies have witnessed your skills, work ethic, and potential firsthand, and they can vouch for your abilities and character. Their endorsements and recommendations carry weight and can significantly enhance your credibility in the eyes of prospective employers. They may have insights into job openings, industry trends, or contacts within their networks that could be instrumental in helping you find your next gig or land your dream job. When implemented well, these tactics can help you figure out what to do when you get laid off.

Remember, networking is a two-way street and is vital when it comes to dealing with layoffs. While it's essential to leverage your connections, it's equally important to offer your support and assistance to others whenever possible. By cultivating mutually beneficial relationships, you create a community of support where everyone can thrive and succeed. While you take care of all of these, you should also begin exploring video interview tips from industry leaders and start practicing them before you appear for an actual interview.

So, don't underestimate the power of maintaining relationships and expressing appreciation during this challenging period. Your advocates and allies can be your strongest allies in your job search, and their support may lead you to new opportunities sooner than you anticipate. Stay engaged, stay connected, and nurture those valuable professional connections.

What to do when you get laid off - Recognize that job loss ranks #8 on the list of major life change stressors

At a time like this, it is important to be gentle on yourself because you will start to go through a physiological response that our body has to traumatic stress.

Allow yourself to adapt to the change, properly process your emotions, and move through this cycle in a healthy way. When you do, it will take you to a more positive place.

Johan Cullberg, a Swedish professor of psychiatry, outlined the process we go through as a reaction to traumatic stress:

a.     Chock - This is the state where chaos meets shock - you may feel empty, isolated, and reality may feel unreal.  The physical manifestation is different for everyone - it can be immobilization (binge on Netflix for a few days, you deserve it), restlessness, or acting-out behaviors (if you’re an addict, please seek help for the temptation that will follow).

b.     Reaction - This is where you may feel grief, despair, anger, and maybe, meaninglessness.  You start to wonder why it happened and who you can blame.  You may have feelings like, “why me?’ and “what have I done wrong?”  These are common, go easy on yourself.  The action that follows is either acting out or introversion.  Again, both can be highly therapeutic if done in a healthy way.

Side note: This is a GREAT time to take that trip you’ve been putting off because work has been too crazy.  The juxtaposition between thinking these thoughts and being surrounded by a new and beautiful place can be extremely effective.  “Why did I get fired, why wasn’t it Bill?!?  Oh wow, that croissant looks amazing.  I’ll take two.”

c.     Coping - This is where you begin to get used to your “new” situation and accept what has happened.  You are not completely past the icky feelings - you are teeter-tottering between looking forward and still feeling bitter and angry.  But you’re getting less fragile and closer to finding the next step (which FYI, is going to be awesome).

This is a good time to reconnect with old friends and coworkers because it feels good to see old buddies but also, (depending on what source you’re quoting) 80-85% of new roles are filled through networking.  After you're back from your trip, book some coffee dates and share your pictures!

This is also a good time to take a long, hard look at where you’ve been and explore the new direction you’ve been dreaming about.  A career coach can help you really dig into what the best next step is for you.  There are endless options ahead of you - take advantage of finding the path that suits you best!

d.     Orienting yourself towards the future - At this stage, you have reached acceptance.  Your mind has processed all the detrimental feelings and you are ready to look forward.  This is where you convincingly say, “screw that old job, I wasn’t really happy there anyway.  There’s something much better for me out there.”  You have reestablished a routine and may even have one, or several job offers by now.  If you don’t, that’s ok. It takes, on average, six months to find a new job. While you look for the next job that will be better than the last, enjoy the time off before life gets crazy again with email and deadlines. You’ll never get this time back!

Moving Forward With Gratitude

When you do start the new job, remember to be thankful for the experience that you’ve been through.  It’s given you a new perspective and allowed you to get an even better gig - one you may not have pursued on your own.

The journey of unemployment, self-reflection, and job searching has likely challenged you, pushed you out of your comfort zone, and expanded your horizons. Embrace the growth and learning that came with it, for it has shaped you into a stronger and more resilient professional.

Starting a new job after a period of unemployment can feel like a fresh start, a chance to apply the lessons learned and embark on a path that aligns even better with your goals and aspirations. Be grateful for the experience you've gained, the skills you've honed, and the personal growth you've undergone.

Your newfound perspective may lead you to seize opportunities that you might have overlooked before. Embrace this chance to explore a different role, industry, or company that excites you and aligns with your evolving career vision. Cherish the fact that the challenges you faced have propelled you toward a more fulfilling and rewarding position.

As you embark on this new chapter, carry gratitude in your heart and let it guide your actions. Show appreciation for the opportunity and demonstrate your commitment to making a positive impact. Embrace the lessons learned and the connections made during your journey, as they have undoubtedly contributed to your growth and paved the way for your current success.

Good luck, my friend! I am always here for you if you need me. I hope you were able to find an answer to what to do when you get laid off.

About The Author

Leadership Consultant and Coach Amy Sanchez

Amy Sanchez is a certified executive and career coach located in the Bay Area who specializes in helping mid- to senior-level executives achieve their full potential and build the lives they want.

She has an MBA from USC’s Marshall School of Business and 13 years of corporate experience.

She is a skilled coach and neutral partner who provides clients with tangible tools and effective guidance to successfully navigate the waters of this fast-paced, hyper-connected, high-stakes job market.

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