Bouncing Back: What to Do if You've Been Laid Off

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Dec 14, 2020

Dec 14, 2020 • by Rebecca Smith

COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on all facets of society, with the economy taking an especially large hit. As of June of this year, unemployment claims reached 17.9 million, up 15.9 million from last year. As the pandemic is still ongoing, these numbers may climb higher.

Most of these people didn't choose to leave their jobs: they were laid off by their employers. If that happened to you, it may seem impossible to pick yourself back up. However, there are some things you can do to make recovering easier. 

Keep reading for a guide that will explain the different steps you need to take after getting laid off.

Make Sure You Get What You're Owed

While a company layoff may catch you off-guard, that doesn't mean that they can throw you out with any compensation. Before you leave, make sure that you get every cent of what the company owes you. 

Inquire about severance pay and whether or not you qualify for it. You should also ask about other unused bonuses, such as unused vacation days, sick days, and any other form of monetary compensation that you didn't get a chance to take advantage of.

You should also get to work tieing up any financial loose ends. This includes everything from travel reimbursement, to healthcare and other premium benefits. This outplacement guide should help you figure out what else you're owed. 

Request a Laid-off Letter From the HR Department

When you start applying for jobs in the future, you don't want your potential employers to think that your previous company fired you. To prevent that from happening, you'll need your HR department (ideally the director) to write you a special letter.

In this letter, they'll explain that outside circumstances forced them to lay you off and that your termination was not related in any way to your personal performance. You can then bring it with you to future interviews.

As so many companies are letting employees go this year, most potential employers you talk with should be understanding. However, it's a good idea to have it so that you can show employers in the future. 

Be Clear on the Future of Your Health Care

If your employer provided you with health insurance, make sure you figure out what will happen to your coverage. 2020 is not the year you want to have to pay for medical treatment or operation out of pocket.

Although you no longer work with your company, your previous healthcare plan may continue to cover you for a period of time. Under COBRA, or Continuation of Health Coverage, your employer's health plan can continue to cover you for 18 months while you find a new job.

If your employer is unclear on whether or not your company can provide you with COBRA coverage, don't leave it at that. Make sure to get a definitive answer from your state's Employment Office. Your life may depend on it!

Register for Unemployment

Regardless of whether or not your company will provide you with a severance package, make sure that you also register for unemployment. If you wait too long, you might not qualify for it, so make this a top priority.

Depending on which state you live in, certain employers might not qualify for unemployment compensation. To know for certain what you can and can't receive, make a point to speak with someone at your state's Employment Office. 

You should also avoid working with services that can "help you register" for unemployment. In most cases, these services are scams, so it's best to avoid them.  

Remember That Your Feelings Are Valid

Many guides advise you to immediately pick yourself up and throw yourself into the job search. While that's important (you need money to survive, after all), make sure that you allow yourself enough time to cope with the loss.

If you've worked with your company for a long period of time, it may form a part of your identity. When circumstances force that part of you away in a sudden and violent fashion, it can be painful. Understand that it's normal to feel upset.

However, while it's okay to feel down, make sure you don't interpret a layoff as a sign of personal failure. The world is dealing with unprecedented levels of chaos at the moment, and you and everyone else are just trying to do the best that you can. 

Begin Your Job Search

After you take a breather, it's time to get back out there. Use the feelings you have to propel yourself forward into your career search. 

The first thing you'll need to do is update your resume. Make sure that it lists all of your accomplishments, experiences, skills, and anything else that will help you stand out from the crowd. You should also do the same on LinkedIn, as most modern companies will check you out on there.

After you're certain that you look like the best candidate you can be, start applying. Use a combination of references, referrals, and online mediums to find and apply to jobs. If you don't hear back, don't take it personally: just keep applying. 

Recently Laid Off? Catch Your Breath and Bounce Back

When you get laid off from your job, it can seem like the end of the world. Take your time to recover from the blow, and remember that everything will be okay. By turning the negative experience into an opportunity to grow and spread your wings, you'll be better before you know it. 

Do you now have a better idea of what to do after a job layoff? If you do, make sure to check out some of our other articles for more guides and tips that will help you stay motivated.