You have been Laid Off, Now What?


If you recently have been laid off, here is a list of things (that I know from personal experience) that are really important to do.

1. Know that it is not you!

Sadly, layoffs have become a normal practice in the corporate world. In October of this year, there were 1.7 Million people who were laid off. Additionally, the way corporate finance works, a company must accrue the entire severance expense once they lay someone off. If the person gets 3 months severance, then all three months get expensed at one time. As a result, companies that are on a calendar fiscal year, often are caught in the position that in order to start out the next year with a lower expense, they do the layoffs in the last couple of months of the current fiscal period.

2. Time Management is Key!

If you have not applied for jobs in a while, the exercise of finding a job, going to the company site, setting up an account on their recruiting system, and filling out their application can take a considerable amount of time! Figure 30 to 60 minutes for each job. You should build a schedule like you are going to work – except now your job is to apply for positions. Treat it like your new job: wake up, dress, have set work hours – and be in an environment that is productive. Set a goal to apply for at least 100 jobs a week! That breaks down to 20 a day with you working 8-10 hours a day.

3. Just so you know – it takes a while to get responses.

Think of each application like a boomerang that will likely take 2 to 4 weeks to get a response. Assume the job is posted, the recruiter waits to get all of the applications, takes a week or two to get them sorted down to their favorites, and decides who they want to do a phone interview with. If you are not getting responses in a week or two – do not worry!

4. Do NOT apply for jobs in which you do not meet the minimum requirements.

If the company lists minimum requirements (e.g. 10 years of engineering experience) and you do not meet those requirements – it is not worth taking the time to apply. Most firms have to comply with Federal rules that make it incredibly difficult for them to consider someone that does not meet the stated requirements. Use your time and energy in productive ways, instead of wasting it in this manner.

5. Use your Network – and I mean the ENTIRE Network!

If you have a good network, now is the time to use it! Send a note to the entire network explaining you have been laid off and are looking for your next position doing whatever your expertise is. This warms up your network and some people may reach out to help. Additionally, there may be a chance that someone in your network knows about a great position! It happened to me once, and I had my next job after just 2 weeks. Please don’t be shy or hide your circumstance – this is why you have a network.

6. Be ready for how your network responds – or more importantly, doesn’t.

A lot of people will get your note, feel empathy, and then be very unsure as to how to respond – and then not. Former colleagues will not reach out for a while, as they may be wondering if there is risk by association, etc. Just know that you may not get responses from folks you would expect and it has nothing to do with you! Even though layoffs are a lot more common, it still makes people very uneasy as to how to interact with someone who just got laid off. On the other hand, in my experience, you will be surprised as there will be some people in your network that will really try to help that you may not have expected.

7. Set your Network up for Success – bring the jobs to them!

Even if your friends have the best intentions – do you think they know about every single job their company is hiring for? I suggest you download your / Facebook contacts and then sort them to figure out how many people you know that work at each company. The companies where you have more contacts, become the higher priority targets. Here is what you do – go to those companies’ websites – find the jobs that fit you, apply and then call your network. Explain to your network contacts that you found a great job and see if they know any way to help provide a reference to the hiring manager. This is now an actionable task your network can execute on!

8. Know your target job!

You need to define your target job. The job market is very large – and if you try to focus too wide, you will end up applying to jobs you don’t really want, etc. Treat your time as important – and only apply to jobs that meet your profile. For instance, if you want a job as a Manager – there are over 1.3 Million jobs on Indeed for Managers. Think about the job you want, the industries you work well in, what locations you want to work in, etc. Plus, think about the entire value chain for your area. For instance, in HR – this can range from being an HR person in a company, a service provider, a consultant, working for a third party advisor group, private equity groups, and research functions.

9. Your Resume is CRITICAL!

First of all, don’t get hung up on format, style, etc.. (also don’t worry about cover letters – unless the application requires one). What is important is to make sure that the recruiter and the manager who read your resume can quickly understand what you have done (e.g. job duties) and what you have accomplished! A resume is a marketing device – so now is not the time to be humble. I was helping one person with their resume and it was pretty void of accomplishments (he was a Safety Manager). I had to prod about whether he had won any awards, and he mentioned he won employee of the month. I prodded more – and it turns out he won it 48 out of 56 months. I prodded even more – and it turns out that the employees, over 400 of them, voted each month as to who would win. This accomplishment would make the hiring manager say “Wow, I want this person to come here and accomplish the same thing for me!”

10. HAVE FUN – seriously – make time for fun!

During the lay off time – schedule time to do something that you enjoy and makes you happy. There are a couple of reasons why. The first is that applying for jobs is not easy and can be drudgery. Have something that is your reward for working hard. The second reason is even more important. When you starting getting phone interviews – it will be key that you sound positive. Have something that you can refer to as, “Even though being laid off is not a great thing, it gave me an opportunity to do XYZ.” For instance, during one layoff – I was able to become my son’s scout pack chairman – and had a ball doing it. Attitude is going to be key – so set yourself up for success.



  1. Tracking – Attached is a link to a spreadsheet that may give you some ideas to getting and staying organized. Given I am very analytical – it may be a little overboard – but make sure to do something to measure and hold yourself accountable. Also, keep your tracking sheet handy so when you get a call, you know what job and company they are calling about.
  2. Resume Writing – Attached is a link to a video presentation that helps you figure out what should be on your resume.
  3. Errors to Look Out For – Here is a link to a great document that gives some tips about common errors that show up on resumes.
  4. Interview Questions – We didn’t cover how to prep for interviews in this blog, but has a great document on the common questions that you should start prepping for. Here is the link.

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