How To Prepare For a Layoff: A Step-By-Step Guide

A complete step-by-step guide on how to prepare yourself for a layoff before it happens.

How To Prepare For A Layoff

January 10th, 2021

Response to COVID-19 and Coronavirus measures, many companies have been forced to layoff employees. If you have received a layoff letter, you still have time to prepare for the day when you receive your last paycheck. The following step-by-step guide will give you the information and tools you need to prepare for your departure.

1. Don't Panic:

If your company is announcing layoffs, the first thing to remember is not to panic. While losing your job can be a traumatic experience, this is the time you should focus on networking and improving your skills.

Stay busy and remind yourself that things will get better. Your qualifications and experience will be useful to someone. Also, remember that layoffs may be temporary and avoided altogether if the company is able to create financial stability.

2. Be Honest With Yourself And Your Family:

If you are being laid off, the fact is that you may not have a job for a while. The sooner you come to terms with this information the better. Tell your family as soon as possible so that everyone can prepare for leaner times. Your family is your support and should be kept in the loop no matter what happens.

3. Demonstrate Your Value:

If your company has decided to layoff employees, it means they are reorganizing their workforce to avoid financial collapse. Only the most essential employees will be kept on board to keep the company afloat. This is your time to prove your worth.

If you have received a layoff letter, there is still time to prove to your company that your position is integral to the functioning of the business. Demonstrate your value in a way that cannot be ignored. You may just find your employment extended for weeks, or possibly years.

4. Do Your Research - Know Your Rights:

If you receive a layoff letter, be sure to read your employment contract and the documents you signed when you were hired. These documents will stipulate any benefits you may be entitled to when you leave. Make sure you are getting paid out for unused vacation days, sick leave, or money owed.

It is also important to check the company policy on severance packages. Find out what previous employees received and don't be afraid to negotiate for improved benefits. If your company is conducting mass layoffs, be sure to check if they are complying with the WARN Act.

5. Pay Off Your Debts:

When you are earning a steady salary, your debts can be paid off at a steady rate over a period of months or years. If you are expecting to be laid off, you should endeavor to pay off your debts as soon as possible. Your finances will be under severe strain and the most effective way to save money is to not pay interest on purchased items.

It may seem counterintuitive, but using a portion of your severance package to pay off your imidate debts will be financially beneficial.

6. Reduce Your Expenditures:

When you are laid off, you will have reduced finances for an undetermined amount of time. While you may receive unemployment benefits, it is imperative to reduce your expenses as soon as possible. Sit down and make a budget for yourself and your family.

Find out where you can reduce your spending without drastically altering your lifestyle. In some cases, it simply means temporarily suspending your gym membership, not going out to dinners, or holding off on that vacation you have been planning for a year.

7. Start An Emergency Savings Fund:

While you still have a paycheck, it is important to start an emergency savings fund, even if you might not use it. Layoffs can be temporary or permanent, and having a "rainy day fund" will help get you through the lean months.

8. Contact Your Creditors:

If it is not possible to pay off all your debts, it may be a good idea to contact your creditors when you receive a layoff letter. Even if you are able to make your payments each month, letting your bank know you are being laid off will give you some leeway with how and when your payments can be made.

Many banks and creditors have special provisions for customers who are being laid off. In some cases, payments can even be "halted" for a certain period of time.

9. Build a Network:

If you are anticipating losing your job, you can improve your chances of finding employment by building a professional network. Get in touch with company contractors, former colleagues, or anyone you might know in the industry. Attend events, and invite potential contacts for coffee. You never know what opportunities might come up when you meet the right people.

10. Advance Your Skills:

Ideally, all employees should be constantly updating their skills and certifications throughout their careers. Take advantage of any courses or certifications offered by your company or one of your networking partners. You can also find free online courses that you can do at home. You may receive a job over a candidate with more experience if you have the necessary skills and certifications required for the position.

11. Keep Your Resume Up To Date:

The best time to update your resume is before you are laid off. As soon as you start networking, you should have an updated version of your resume prepped and ready to send out to anyone interested in your skills. If you have completed any recent training or certification course, be sure to include this in your resume.

12. Ask For A Letter of Recommendation:

Before you leave your employment, ask for a letter of recommendation from your department manager. A favorable recommendation is a great asset to have when you are seeking employment and trying to impress the Hiring Manager.

13. Seek Alternate Employment:

Don't wait until you are laid off to start looking for another job. Use the resources and people around you to seek alternate employment as soon as possible. Even if your company is able to avoid layoffs, you may just be offered a better position in a more financially stable company.

14. Organize Your Health Insurance:

If you receive health insurance through your employer, you will need to make some important decisions on what to do when you are laid off. Doing research on private and government health insurance will give you an idea of what you and your family can afford going forward. Everyone's needs are different so there is no one answer that fits all situations.

15. Find Out About Your Unemployment Benefits:

Before you are laid off, find out about any unemployment benefits you may be entitled to. Benefits vary by state which is why you should find out the facts before you create a budget. In some states, unemployment checks are taxed, reducing your income even further.

16. Keep a Positive Attitude:

Being laid off is emotionally taxing. Aside from the financial strains, many people also struggle with issues of self-worth when they lose their job. Keeping a positive attitude is essential when you receive a layoff letter. While there may be hard times ahead, stay focused on improving your skills, and getting your resume out there. Remember that you have the experience and skills to get the job you want.


What is the best way to prepare for a layoff?

  • Don't panic.
  • Read your employment contract.
  • Start saving.
  • Update your resume.
  • Network.
  • Advance your skills.
  • Seek alternate employment.
  • Find out about unemployment benefits.

Are layoffs permanent?

Layoffs can be both temporary or permanent. Your layoff letter will indicate if your termination is permanent.

Should I look for a job before I am laid off?

Yes, if your termination is permanent, seek alternate employment while you have the resource available to you.

It is too late to start saving when I recieve a layoff letter?

No, layoff notices may be given up to 60 days ahead of your termination date. The sooner you start saving for your layoff the better.

Do I qualify for unemployment benefits if I am laid off?

Yes, if you are laid off you can apply for unemployment benefits. Check with your local or state unemployment office on what benefits you are entitled to.