5 More Actions to Take When You’ve Been Laid Off

You already know about tapping your network for help, but there’s plenty more to do before interviewing for a new role. Second in a series.

It’s not just the tech sector anymore—all kinds of firms and sectors are pulling back on staffing now. It’s a difficult reality to face, perhaps the toughest one a worker has to tackle during the course of a career. 

Below, in the second installment of an ongoing series, some thoughts on steps to consider taking. 

Absorb and process the news.

Everyone responds differently to the news that they are being laid off. If you've been at the company for a long time and have felt a sense of loyalty, the sense of rejection and hurt can run deep. If you've known this reduction in force has been coming for a while, you may shrug it off as a business reality. 

“Regardless of what’s going through your head, it’s important to be introspective and give yourself space to process and deal with those emotions before you start your job search,” says David Meintrup, a career coach at Korn Ferry Advance. “If they’re not dealt with, feelings of anger, loss, desperation, or resentment can spill over into every conversation you have, and even harm your search for a new job.”

Get clear on your direction.

While being laid off feels like a setback, it can be a great opportunity to intentionally take stock of where you’ve been in your career and where you’re going. Try journaling or reflecting on whether you really enjoyed your last job, whether it’s time for a change (beyond the unavoidable one), and what’s realistically attainable in the current market. 

Taking the time to identify your ideal industries, companies, types of job functions, and company culture can shave months off your job search and help you tailor your résumé to each opportunity. 

Build your dossier.

Once your targets are identified, it’s absolutely imperative that you customize multiple résumés, your LinkedIn profile, and cover letters for the specific job you’re after. Career experts say targeting includes picking the right format, key words, and content (i.e., what to include and what to leave out). They also recommend including a short summary section that calls attention to a couple of the most important points.

Yes—this is a lot of work, and job hunting often feels like a full-time job unto itself. But you can be sure that your top competition will already be doing this.

Hire a coach.

It’s important to know what you do and don’t know when it comes to job search. You may have been with one company for a long time, or may have always been employed during past searches for a new gig. 

No matter your circumstances, this is a great time to hire a career coach to help you with best practices and answer your questions. “A coach can point out factors that you might not even be considering, or confirm that you’re doing great and help you stay on track,” Meintrup says.

Don’t trash your old employer.

No matter how burned you may feel by your old employer’s handling (or mishandling) of its layoffs, your job hunt isn’t the time to complain or spill juicy gossip. When you’re asked why you’re looking for a new position, be honest about the fact that you were let go, but keep your remarks professional. Your being jobless isn’t going to stand in the way of getting a new offer, but tasteless behavior will. 

“As a CEO who has interviewed countless people, I can tell you that your next boss is far more interested in your contribution to the journey ahead than in what’s happened in the past,” says Korn Ferry CEO Gary Burnison


For more information, contact Korn Ferry Advance.