What To Do If You Are Laid Off: A Step-By-Step Guide

A complete step-by-step guide on what to do if you have been laid off.

What To Do If You Are Laid Off

August 14th, 2020

The global COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has had far-reaching implications on the global economy. Many businesses have been forced to lay off employees or risk facing financial ruin. If you have recently been laid off, follow this guide on what to do next.

What Does It Mean To Be Laid Off:

If you have been laid off, it means that your employer is experiencing financial hardships and is no longer able to pay you a salary. The recent outbreak of Coronavirus and subsequent quarantine measures have forced businesses to downscale their workforce in order to survive.

If your layoff is temporary, it means your employer may require you to return to work after a period of time. During this time, you will be essentially unemployed and eligible for unemployment benefits.

The Difference Between Being Laid Off And Being Fired
The Difference Between Being Laid Off And Being Fired:

When you are laid off, your employment is terminated due to no fault of your own. In most cases, companies lay off staff because they are downscaling or trying to cut costs. Workers who are laid off are eligible for severance pay, unused vacation pay, and sick pay.

When you are fired, your employment is terminated as a direct result of your actions. Employees who are fired may not be eligible for any severance benefits or vacation pay.

What to Do if You Have Been Laid Off:

Make sure you know your rights.

When you receive your layoff letter, make sure you read your employment contract and any documents you signed when you joined the company. Ensure your company has provided sufficient notice for your layoff and is willing to pay out your stipulated benefits.

Ask about severance pay and benefits.

Employees who are laid off are entitled to severance pay and certain benefits such as unused vacation leave and paid sick leave. Find out what other employees have received and don't be afraid to negotiate. The higher your position and the longer you have been with your company, the more benefits you stand to receive.

Ask for a letter of recommendation.

When you are laid off, it is important to ask for a letter of recommendation from your department manager. This is a letter in which your manager vouches for your skills, character, and work ethic for future employers. A favorable letter may be a valuable resource when searching for alternate employment.

File for unemployment.

If you have been laid off, you are entitled to collect unemployment insurance benefits from the government. Benefits vary by state, so be sure to check your local state UI policies when you apply. Due to the massive increase in job losses across the U.S. many states are advising individuals to apply online.

Update your resume.

As soon as you receive your layoff letter, you should start updating your resume. You never know when an employment opportunity will present itself, so be sure to keep your resume on hand.

Update your health insurance.

Your employer may have provided health insurance or paid a portion of your fees. If you have been permanently laid off, you will need to take over full payment of health insurance or find an alternative that best suits your needs.

After you have been laid off, the sooner you start looking for alternate employment the better. Your unemployment insurance benefits are only paid out for a certain number of weeks and usually cover just a portion of your usual income.

How to You Get a Job After Being Laid Off:

1. Update your skills.

The global COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has had a major impact on the U.S. economy forcing thousands of businesses to lay off a significant portion of their workforce. If you have been laid off, this would be a good time to update your skills while you seek alternate employment.

Whether you take an online course, a practical workshop, or a business-related course, having updated skills that are relevant to your industry will give you the upper hand during the recruitment process.

2. Work on your resume.

If you haven't already done so, it is time to update your resume. Make sure you have included your recent work experience and any new skills or qualifications you may have. Having your resume updated and ready to send out will serve you well when you start networking.

3. Network.

Networking is an effective tool in business and a great way to find a new job. Use your business contacts to find hiring managers, recruiters, and managers who are looking for qualified people in your industry. Invite your ex-work colleagues out for coffee and get your name and resume out there.

4. Contact recruiting agencies.

Recruiting agencies act as intermediaries between companies looking for new talent and job seekers. Recruiting agents usually have in-depth knowledge of specific employment sectors and can provide information, interview preparation, and recruitment opportunities.

5. Search job boards.

Job boards are large-scale search engines for people looking for open positions. Employers post their vacancies on job boards to attract the best candidates. If you have been laid off, search your local county and state job boards for employment opportunities.

6. Stay positive.

Being laid off is never easy. Many people suffer from low self-esteem and even depression when they are laid off. It is important to stay positive and keep sending your resume out. You never know when a new opportunity will present itself.

How do you explain being laid off on a job application?

If you are applying for a job, it is best to be completely honest about being laid off. Recruiters and hiring managers will want to know the reasons for your unemployment. Explain that you were laid off due to company downsizing and mention the position you held when you were still employed.

How do you address a layoff on your resume?

Your resume should include details of your previous employment and the length of time at each job. If you have been laid off, mention that you are currently unemployed because your company could not afford to retain their staff.

How should I tell an interviewer I was laid off?

During a job interview, the interviewer will usually ask you why you left your previous job or why you are currently unemployed. Simply explain that you were laid off and mention the exact reasons why the company had to let you go.


What happens if you are laid off?

If you are laid off, it means your employer is no longer able to financially sustain your position. Your employment is effectively terminated which means you can apply for unemployment insurance benefits.

What questions should you ask when you are laid off?

  • Will my layoff be permanent?
  • When will my last day of work be?
  • Will I be paid out a severance package?
  • Will I be paid out for unused vacation and sick leave?
  • Can you write me a letter of recommendation?

How do you handle a layoff?

  • Don't personalize your layoff. Companies often have to downscale in order to survive.
  • Ask your employer about severance pay and benefits.
  • Treat other employees with respect.
  • Stay resilient and prove your worth.
  • Remain positive.

What is the first thing you should do after being laid off?

  • File for unemployment.
  • Update your resume.
  • Look for alternate employment.

Should I tell my employer I was laid off?

Yes, being laid off is not the fault of the employee. Being honest with your new employer about your work experience will serve you in the future.

How do you get a job after being laid off?

  1. Update your skills.
  2. Update your resume.
  3. Network.
  4. Contact recruiting agencies.
  5. Search job boards.
  6. Stay positive.