What to do when you get laid off or fired


Have you ever been laid off? There is hardly any person who can prepare for being terminated or fired since it is an unexpected turn in the routine of everyday life. At the same time, it makes no difference whether you are a blue-collar worker or take any top positions in the company since each person can face bad luck and be asked to leave the position. Therefore, it is necessary to be armed for such an unpredictable situation and learn what to do when you get laid off. Whether you have already been announced about this decision, suspect that you might be among the next team of terminated workers or just want to feel confident in every situation, you should prepare for such an employment drawback as a layoff.

Look: this article will focus on the main points on how to cope with the situation and what to do if laid off or fired.

What to do when you get laid off

Unemployment is a nightmare for many people since it is impossible to satisfy your needs if you earn nothing. Moreover, many people realize how difficult it is to find a job that will be not only well-paid and have a good schedule but also become your passion. Therefore it is always stressful for everyone to understand that in the closest future this person will have no source of income as well as will leave the community he or she got used to. It means that it is of utmost importance to find out what to do when laid off.

What does it mean to be laid off

The layoff is one of the types of termination. It means that a person loses his job but the main reason for it is the absence of work available for this person. In fact, it is not a personal performance to be a reason for being laid off. The main factors that lead to such a situation are restructuring the company, downsizing or leaving a certain business or field. As a result, a person has to leave the position obtained but can apply for severance pay and other unemployment benefits unlike the situation when fired.

Before laid off

Before laid off
The elimination of jobs in a company can be predicted if you pay attention to rumors and discussions held in the corridors of the office building. Despite the fact that companies always try to keep such disappointing solutions in secret not to lose employees earlier than needed, it is always possible to learn which departments face constant financial troubles or which projects have not brought about desirable results. Even if there is the smallest sign of the layoff possibility, it is important to prepare yourself mentally to the conclusion that you may be among people who will soon leave the company.

You can even make two preliminary steps before you find out if you are going to be laid off officially. They include:

  1. Making initial job search moves. Not to waste time on getting your resume together and updating it experts recommend doing that while you are employed. You can even send some examples to the vacancies you are interested in since there is no obligation to accept the offer for job-seekers. At the same time, if your dismissal happens, you will not waste your valuable time.
  2. Take home all the things you want to possess. Laid off employees lose access to the computer and files stored on them, so it is necessary to think of this fact in advance. Some people keep personal information on corporate computers or want to copy some useful contacts, samples, examples of projects completed, etc. However, if some of these files are objects of certain company policies, try to avoid troubles and make their copies.
  3. Overcome the emotional burden. No matter what people say but being terminated is always a stressful and upsetting experience. Many people consider this situation really painful and sometimes even need professional psychological help to get out of it. Therefore, one of the first things you should do thinking what to do when you are laid off is to cope with your anxiety and nerves to understand that every finish is only one step away from a new start. You should take a deep breath and convince yourself that it is not you to blame that such a situation has happened. It would be great if you share your fear with anyone else – your close relative or friend, as well as find the right words on how to avoid this topic if anyone raises it.

Layoff conversation

It goes without saying that the decision about a person’s layoff is approved by the management and the HR department, so it should be officially announced to the employee. This so-called layoff conversation is usually made face-to-face or with some representatives of the HR team. It is reasonable for a boss to explain the reasons that led to this situation, while an employee should listen carefully whether his or her performance has influenced this decision too.

However, this type of communication is called ‘conversation’, because not only an employer but also a person who is laid off should make clear a number of points connected with termination. Therefore, don’t be shy and try to negotiate the following things:

  1. Severance. It is important to ensure whether you are eligible to get a standard severance given to all laid off workers or it will be calculated on the basis of any other formula. There are situations when you can increase the amount of your severance by negotiating it. It is applicable if a company asks you to sign a paper that in exchange for the severance given you will not issue any claims against it.
  2. Vacation time. Depending on the state you live in, you may be paid out the accrued vacation time or not. It is reasonable to ask this question and even demand this benefit since it can be a direct violation of human rights.
  3. References. You are obliged to ask for references from your current employer in case of being laid off. However, do that only if you are confident that your performance has not influenced the reason for your job loss. If you are not sure, you may get interested in how they are going to describe you as an employee for future reference checkers.
  4. Unused sick days. Since you have not taken advantage of sick days guaranteed to every employee, it is possible to try to ask for compensation for them.
  5. Additional unused benefits. You should know undoubtedly what your company guarantees to its employees. It means that you can ask compensation for some expense reimbursement, tuition reimbursement, healthcare, and life insurance premium payments, etc.

Know your rights

Since being laid off is different from being fired or terminated in any other way, this means that such employees have a number of rights that can be violated or not considered by employers at all. If you are one to be terminated, there is no need to look for an answer to the question ‘I just got laid off what do I do?’. Some answers are already provided by each federal discrimination law and you should be aware of them:

  1. Workers aged over 40. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act released in 1967 guarantees protection to workers who are 40 years old and older. One more act entitled the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act says that in the case of a layoff when the whole group is terminated, workers have 21 days for consideration of the severance suggestion and 7 more days for agreement revoking.
  2. Members of minority groups. In accordance with the Civil Rights Act, companies are not allowed to make decisions connected with employment on the basis of race and skin color, religious views, sex, being pregnant or nationality.
  3. Disabled people. The discrimination of disabled people regarding employment is prohibited by the Americans with Disability Act.

Being a representative of one of several of the following groups of people, it is possible to bring out a claim and prove the violation of law to prevent the layoff.
Know your rights after firedThere is a number of points when a layoff is considered illegal:

  • Violation of public policy: it is possible to prove the layoff to have been performed in retaliation if a month or two before the job loss, the worker was filed a compensation demand or reported to have had illegal or not ethical behavior. It means that a person cannot be terminated soon after any of these actions took place.
  • Taking care of an ill family member: according to the Family Medical Leave Act, people who care about family members or servicemen who are seriously ill can ask for taking up to 12 (sometimes 24) unpaid workweeks and are guaranteed a leave for the family specified with job protection. It means that people who take this time period cannot be laid off during it.
  • For large employers: there are certain rules for big companies planning to make a layoff in the nearest future. They should send a written notice sent 60 days prior to the layoff day and in some states, even 90 days before that. Moreover, people who are laid off can look for backpay damages and benefits up to 60 days too.

One more right of every employee planned for a layoff is severance. However, there are no laws in some states obliging employers to give it. At the same time, it is always possible to try to request severance since it is very popular in large companies. The last ones usually provide severance to their former employees and do that following a widely accepted form up. They count this amount on the basis of a popular formula giving a certain sum (from 1-week to 4-week salary) for every year you have worked for the company. It is also important to understand that severance is usually given by companies in exchange for a person’s silence. It means that a person receives a so-called money reward but signs a deal that he will never sue the company on any occasion. Some companies even issue a list of post-employment restrictions to their clients asking the last ones to avoid job positions in the companies-competitors for their monetary reward. Another thing for laid off workers to remember is the right to refuse from the initial offers of they do not satisfy you and negotiate the severance.

Find benefits

Though it seems that a layoff brings about only disappointment and frustration, in fact, there are even certain benefits in this situation. Could not you find time to travel or visit your friends? Have you always wanted to get a promotion but lacked some skills? In fact, a layoff can even contribute to the quality of your current life in the following ways:

  1. Think how much time you have for employer benefits and work. When you have been announced about the termination, it does not mean that your work in the company finishes the next day already. Most of the employees have to visit their work for two or more weeks. As a result, they can spend this time with benefits since the amount of work to be done will eliminate every new day. It is time to update and improve your resume, send it to potential employers, and even use all the employer benefits at least for two weeks or even longer. It is a period when you can enjoy your work and spend minimum effort on it.
  2. Use unemployment insurance to cover your full income. You have been paying deductions from your salary to the unemployment insurance all the time you were working. However, now it is time to make use of it too. You can send an inquiry to the governmental services and find out what benefits you can get being laid off. It means that for some period of time, you will get a little lower or the same amount as your former salary until you find a new position.
  3. Devote time to yourself and consideration of your employment accomplishments. Every break in the working activity can be considered an additional vacation. Why not consider a layoff the time to have rest. You can enjoy your free time fully as well as devote it to grow as a professional. It is possible to analyze your career accomplishments and continue growing by visiting certain courses, trainings, and reaffirm the confidence that has suffered. You can improve your knowledge of foreign languages and acquire skills in other spheres to be more competitive during the job search.
  4. Make a new stage in networking. It is not a secret that 80% of jobs are received through networking. Your layoff can be a sign to tap into a network of contacts you have built for years of your professional activity and turn to your old colleagues, friends, acquaintances to inform them about your search for new opportunities. One more way to attract the attention of your circle of communication is social media profiles. Use these platforms to update your employment status, achievements, and qualifications.
  5. Opt for more highly-paid jobs. You may believe that being laid off is a tragedy, but what will you say if to consider it as a possibility to find a well-paid job with more perspectives? It is natural that at the very beginning of the job search, you will be ready to accept almost any offer, however, you should resist the temptation to sell yourself short or take a position that seems torture for you. It is important to wait and your dream position will land the job market!

Take your time

While you are thinking of what to do after being laid off, you simply waste your valuable time that could be spent on more important things. There are several more important steps to make after being laid off.

  1. Collect your final paycheque. You should not only learn the final date of your work but also take a paycheque. It is required for estimating how much you will get this month and whether it is enough to earn your living. Some employees may lag with paying your final salary so you also need a piece of evidence to prove your right for income. Moreover, your final paycheque can also include compensation for all the benefits unused.
  2. Continue health insurance. While you work in the company, your employer covers your medical insurance. If you are laid off, you can be allowed to continue your participation in the medical plan for up to 18 months according to COBRA. At the same time, your monthly payment will be higher than it used to be while you were employed. One more option for laid off people is the government’s Health Insurance Marketplace, where people can shop for coverage for up to 60 days and choose a plan that suits them.
  3. File for unemployment benefits. It is important not to waste your time and to apply for unemployment compensation as fast as possible. There is a limited period of time for that. One more piece of advice is to prevent hiding the fact that you have received a severance pay package too. You should also check your eligibility for the benefits including earning and hours worked requirements.
  4. Start your search. The earlier you begin to look for a new job, the faster you will find it and the more offers you will get for consideration.

Search for new jobs

Search for new jobs
One of the main tasks for people who look for what to do when being laid off is, of course, to search for a new job. This task includes multiple stages and the main ones look as follows:

  1. Update your resume. It is natural that even if you have a resume, it requires refreshing since at least the job you have been laid off is not included there, let alone new skills and knowledge you have acquired there. If you have lost your resume, you can opt for an online builder, select a new template and include data showing off your best accomplishments. If you have difficulties with the compilation of the document, look for more convincing phrases and statements online to present you from the best point.
  2. Write a cover letter. Some people believe that cover letters are not read by employers but if a recruiter is interested in any individual, he or she soul undoubtedly look through the cover letter. They are especially important when recruiters need to compare similar qualifications. Laid off employees can use cover letters as a possibility to explain why they had to leave their previous job.
  3. Take advantage of networking. If you have some contacts that may be helpful in the job search, don’t neglect to connect with them and inform that you are in search of a new position. It is a perfect way to make people discuss your problem and provide the necessary help, support, and referrals.
  4. Send a resume to several companies. Experts advise selecting several vacancies that meet jobseeker’s requirements and where this person is the best fit according to the description provided. It would be a mistake to send only one resume and wait for a response that can never arrive.
  5. Leave your resume online and in social media. One more great way to attract potential employer is to leave your resume on one of the websites as well as create a LinkedIn profile aimed at employment first of all. It often happens that representatives of different companies look for employees in this way. They open the contact information of the individuals they are interested in and send their offers.
  6. Prepare for an interview. When you have prepared everything and received a desirable result – an invitation to the interview, it is necessary to prepare for this responsible step. It is possible to read answers to the most common questions regarding the sphere you major in as well as prepare answers to some tricky questions connected with salary, for example.


Every person can be laid off since our world moves ahead and many professionals and positions are substituted by technology. However, it is not time to worry since layoff has a number of benefits and is a boost for people to develop and grow professionally. This article has explained how to behave if you are laid off and we hope it will help you to open a new more exciting stage of your career.