If you were recently laid off, you’re not alone. Meta, Twitter, Amazon, Disney, and General Motors are among the major employers that have announced massive layoffs in the early months of 2023, and they seem just to keep coming.
With instability in the financial world and economic uncertainty looming, we likely haven’t seen the last of the job cuts, unfortunately. But that doesn’t mean you must sit there and watch, dumbfounded.
To help you take action, we’re outlining what to do when you get laid off, from making sure you can collect the benefits you’re entitled to getting ready to enter the job market once again.
Here are the steps you can take while you await the next opportunity.
Take a moment to process the loss
It’s normal to experience grief, anxiety, and anger after losing your job, regardless of whether it was in your control. Experts say giving yourself time to absorb the impact of being laid off is healthy and necessary.
Vent to a trusted friend or family member, allow yourself to feel confusion or uncertainty, and try to resist the urge to rush feeling “ok” with your new situation.
File for unemployment as soon as possible
You file for unemployment with your state, and each state’s timeline for approval and payment varies. Typically, though, it takes one to three weeks from submitting your claim to receive your first payment. That’s why you want to file ASAP. It shouldn’t take more than an hour.
Not sure whether you qualify? You should still apply. Many states made sweeping changes to their unemployment programs after COVID-19, significantly expanding the eligibility pool. So, it’s worth a shot.
Each state has slightly different requirements for applying for unemployment. Still, in most cases, you’ll need your social security number, bank account information for direct deposit, most recent employer’s name and contact information, and the dates you were employed there.
Sort out what you’ll do for health insurance
After filing for unemployment benefits, the next thing to do is get your health insurance in order. If you had insurance through your job, it typically won’t continue for more than a month after you’re laid off. If your last day falls early in the month, you may have a little more time left on your coverage than if you’re laid off later in the month.
If you lose access to employer-sponsored coverage, you have two options for health insurance. The first is COBRA, which is available if you were laid off from a company with 20 or more employees. This allows you to continue your health insurance coverage for yourself and your family for up to 18 months. You’ll be responsible for paying the full premium—your share and the share your employer previously paid—yourself.
The second option is shopping for your coverage on the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Take stock of where you stand
Once the dust has settled and you feel ready to take action, it’s time to formulate a game plan. One of the first things you’ll need to figure out is how urgently you need work; this will determine how selective you can be in the types of roles you’ll go after.
If you have a comfortable emergency fund, you may be able to wait it out for an opportunity that’s a strong match for your skills and aligns with your salary expectations. If you need funds fast, you might be in the market for anything that will deliver a paycheck.
Remember—just because you take a position now to bring money in the door doesn’t mean you can’t still actively search for a job you truly want. We’re living through an unprecedented time employment-wise, and many traditional expectations about job hunting, resume gaps, short-term work, and the like will go out the window for the foreseeable future.
Know who’s hiring
While many companies are cutting thousands of positions, others are still going strong with hiring. Healthcare, logistics, and IT organizations have some particularly urgent hiring needs.
Even if your job isn’t specifically within one of those categories, it’s a good idea to browse employers who are in those fields. If you’re in communications, for example, you might have better luck right now looking for work in the PR department of a hospital than in a social media company.
A good place to start your search is with a resource like the Monster 100, which is a list of 100 companies hiring right now.
Polish up your LinkedIn profile
If it’s been awhile since you logged into LinkedIn, now’s the time to revisit your profile and clean it up for prospective employers. First, ensure you’re using a recent clear, good-quality photo. It’s the first impression hiring managers will have of you, so make it count.
Next, make sure you’re taking full advantage of your headline—the line that appears directly underneath your name in your profile and search results. Many people use this for their job title and company name, and that’s perfectly fine, but you can also add a few more words that promote your top selling points and help search engines find you. So, for example, instead of ‘Marketing Manager,’ you might expand your headline to read ‘Senior B2B Event Marketing Manager.’ This way, hiring managers searching for ‘event marketing’ and ‘B2B marketing’ will be able to find you more easily.
Rather than using your profile summary (the short blurb of text under your name and headline) to describe yourself or give biographical information, instead use it as a place to showcase your results. Like how to resume line items should be results-oriented rather than descriptive, you want your summary to convey how having you as an employee has benefitted your employer.
For example, instead of ‘two years of experience as a technology sales associate,’ change it to ‘a trusted resource that helps clients solve their technology problems using Acme Company software.’
Tap your network
One silver lining of being laid off is that you don’t have to be discreet about your job search. You can broadcast it far and wide that you’re looking for openings, expanding the number of opportunities you’re likely to hear about.
Now is an appropriate time to contact your professional connections to let them know you’re in the market for a new job. Do this one-on-one rather than via a mass email, and be specific. Tell them exactly what kind of roles you’re looking for instead of just asking for job leads. This will help trigger a lightbulb if they know of anything that might be up your alley.
Sharpen your skills
When you’re out of work, you suddenly have a lot more time on your hands. Filling all that time with job searching can be exhausting and counterproductive after a certain point. Instead, break it up by pursuing activities to expand your resume.
Take an online course from Coursera or Udemy, learn a new application, or even focus on a non-technical skill you want to improve, like creative writing or public speaking. This will strengthen your skillset and give your mind a break from the monotony of poring over job applications. Plus, it will give you something concrete to talk about in future interviews if you’re asked what you did during your break in employment.
Work with a headhunter
If you just got laid off, feeling lost and unsure of what to do next is normal. Should you hold out to see if your old company bounces back? Look for a job with one of their competitors. Try something new entirely? Take any available job just to ensure you have a paycheck? If these questions are running through your mind, you can benefit from working with a headhunter.
A headhunter helps match job seekers with employers that are looking for their skills.
Utilize our resources to help better position yourself as a candidate
We have many further resources to help you in your job search. Check out our career guide library, where you’ll find guides on hundreds of positions; our sample resumes, which will be especially helpful if you’re thinking of changing fields; and our interview questions and answers, which will help you ace your conversation with a hiring manager.