5 Actions to Take If You’re Laid Off

Taking a break from work might seem counterintuitive, but experts say it’s one of several good steps to consider after being let go. 

So you’ve been laid off. You’re not alone: layoffs have torn across industries, particularly tech, which has shed over 100,000 jobs from more than 300 companies in just the last seven weeks. The question is what to do next. You might be exhausted, given that 42% of the workforce is currently reporting burnout, and the economic outlook, though not dire, is unpredictable at best. Here are five proactive steps you can consider taking after you’ve been laid off.

Take a Break. Really.

Unless you’re under substantial financial constraints that will force you back into the job market immediately, experts suggest taking a pause. A little break can allow you to take stock of what you’ve done, figure out where you want to go, and—crucially—craft the story with which you’d like to move forward. “Don’t rush without understanding what your narrative will be, and what your corresponding résumé will look like,” says Deepali Vyas, global head of Fintech, Payments and Crypto practice at Korn Ferry. In fact, she says, pausing for a month or two can be part of your narrative and help ensure that your next move is a thoughtful one.

Prep a backstory.

“You need a good, crisp explanation of what transpired,” says Bradford Frank, senior client partner in the Technology practice at Korn Ferry. Here’s an example of a narrative you can share with prospective employers: you were part of a broad economic business cycle in which companies overhired, then scaled back. You can use this narrative to pivot to explaining what you were able to accomplish in your role. Layoffs impact lots of workers; hiring executives understand that.

If poor performance is why you’re unemployed, be honest but brief about the personal factors that negatively affected your performance. Perhaps you and your boss didn’t see eye to eye. Then, Frank advises, you might say something like, “That situation is behind me, and I’m back on board. If you look at my résumé, you’ll see that prior to my last job, I was promoted six times in three years.”

Network like it’s your job.

Because networking is your job, experts say. “People always tell me that they’re busier now than when they were working full-time,” says Vyas. That’s how you know you’re doing it right. Contact all former bosses, colleagues, and employees with whom you have worked well. Let them know what types of roles you’re interested in, and ask them who else they’d suggest you speak with.

“You should not be embarrassed to call them up and say, ‘I’ve left XYZ Company, have you heard of anything opening? Would you recommend me?’” says Frank. You can also head to conferences and meetups, which facilitate soft introductions (“Can you believe how bad the coffee is?”). “Conferences are a great way to open up opportunities that wouldn’t be there otherwise,” says Vyas.

Find organizations that thrill you.

Go to the company’s website and look for openings, jump to LinkedIn to see if any old colleagues or alumni of your school work there, and reach out accordingly. Frank calls this type of networking “semi-warm,” because it’s with colleagues or alums who are likely to respond. Try something like, “Hey, we worked/studied together at ___. I’m really interested in this role. Would you be available for a quick ten-minute call to tell me about your experiences at the company?” Then ask if they’ll recommend you or connect you with the manager.

Inch your way in.

The ideal company for you might not have the perfect job opening right at this moment. No matter. “Inch your way in,” says Vyas. Propose a consulting gig or project that the company might undertake. “Maybe they can’t hire you full-time right now, but they do need help with this specific thing,” says Vyas. Short-term gigs can be fun and a good way to stay relevant and in view of potential employers. 


For more information, contact Korn Ferry Advance.