4 Steps To Take After Being Laid Off

4 Steps To Take After Being Laid Off

5 minutes

It’s a sobering statistic: More than 90,000 tech industry workers have been laid off in 2023 alone. Even tech titans like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Meta are not immune to the industry-wide changes. The barrage of headlines about mass layoffs can be deeply unsettling to take in, whether you were personally impacted or not.

Here’s the reassuring thing to keep in mind: Despite the turbulent job market, people who have tech skills are well-positioned to land jobs in other industries. Tech workers who were impacted by the recent layoffs seem to be bouncing back fast. A survey from ZipRecruiter conducted in late October found that 79% of recently laid off tech workers found a job within three months. 

That said, recovering from a layoff is challenging and stressful — you have to sort through pressing logistical and financial issues, manage your mental health, and somehow find a new job. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath. Then read these actionable steps that you can take following a layoff so you can approach your next job opportunity feeling confident and supported.

Pause and take care of yourself

From the trauma of suddenly losing your income and sense of identity, to the anxiety that it could happen to you again, layoffs can be a blow to your mental health. Studies confirm that layoffs increase stress and can lead to depression. You might also experience troublesome emotions like anxiety, depression, anger, shame, sadness, and low self esteem. 

In the aftermath of a layoff, there’s power in acknowledging your feelings and emotions, Laura Huang, an associate professor at Harvard Business School, told The New York Times. “Think of your emotions as data, as information,” Dr. Huang said. “Rather than blindly being led by them, interrogate them. Ask yourself why you feel shame or self-doubt. Learn from it. Use your emotions to your benefit.” 

If you’re able, take a beat to rest and grieve the loss before you start searching for jobs, Dr. Sheehan Fisher, Associate Professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told Fortune. “Sometimes we want to immediately fix the problem or try to find a way to not feel bad, but taking time to grieve and truly feel the loss is important,” he says. “It’s almost like a death where you need to let yourself grieve even though grieving is very painful.”

If you’re having trouble coping with the emotions that follow a layoff, it’s worthwhile to seek support from a therapist or mental health clinician. Not only can mental health clinicians guide you through your present situation, but they can also help you map out a plan for your future.

Find a plan that fits your goals

Discuss your severance package 

A severance package typically includes some amount of money that’s determined by how long you’ve been at the company, an extension of your health insurance coverage and retirement benefits, and sometimes even job placement services to help you get back on your feet. Just like you can negotiate your salary and benefits when you get a job, in some cases, you can also negotiate the severance package you get from a company after a layoff.

Consider having a conversation about the terms of your severance package before you sign the severance agreement. Think about what you’re going to need to make ends meet as you search for a new job. For example, you could negotiate keeping your health insurance coverage until you find a new job, or request that you can use your former employer as a reference for jobs that you apply for in the future. Keep in mind: It’s not a guarantee that your employer will honor your requests or offer more than what’s legally required — but it’s worth asking.

Reach out to your network

It might feel embarrassing or uncomfortable to spread the word that you were laid off. But if you let people in your network know that you’re available for new opportunities, it’ll only help your job search. For example, you could share your layoff status on LinkedIn, and include a list of your recent achievements (BTW, you should definitely keep a running list of your personal and professional accomplishments). Another option is to reach out directly to people in your professional network, like mentors and former colleagues, who may be able to pass along job opportunities or serve as a reference going forward. 

One upside to the widespread layoffs is that there are lots of people who are going through exactly the same things that you are. There are even online communities that are forming to support people who’ve been affected by layoffs. For example, you can follow the Instagram account @Here2Help for timely job-search tips, or see if there’s a LinkedIn group that you could join to start networking with other people looking for work. 

Remember that you are not alone: Most people will have compassion and empathy for your experience, and will be eager to help however they can.

Refresh your resume and portfolio 

When you’re ready to get back out there, take the time to freshen up your resume, revamp your LinkedIn profile, update your professional website and portfolio, and start practicing for job interviews. Instead of flinging your resume at every opening you see on a job board, be intentional about the ones you want to apply to. (Recruiters can usually sniff out applicants who are just applying to jobs at random.) 

Start reviewing common interview questions and think about how you’d answer them, and don’t forget to come prepared with your own questions to ask. Keep in mind that there are tactical ways you can mention a layoff or employment gap in your resume, cover letter, or interview. And most importantly, set realistic goals for yourself, because applying to jobs can feel like a job in itself. 

If it’s been a while since you’ve applied for a job, Codecademy has lots of free courses and resources that can help you prepare. Be sure to read articles on the Codecademy blog for tons of tips on how to land a job in tech, the right interview questions to practice, and advice for building a standout portfolio

And if you’re ready to take your learning even further, you might want to consider Codecademy Pro and Plus. We just launched lots of new Pro features that could help you during the job search process, like job boards for tech (and non-tech) companies that are interested in hiring Codecademy learners.

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