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Lisa BischoffFeb 21, 20235 min read

Laid Off? Do This Before Job Hunting

Whether you saw it coming, were completely blindsided, absolutely loved the company you were a part of, or hated the work but still needed the paycheck - getting laid off can be emotionally, financially, mentally, and physically shattering. Even the most confident and self-assured of us are bound to feel a wide range of emotions at this news. While your gut instinct may immediately be to start networking and applying for jobs, it’s important to take a moment to process, recalibrate, and create a strategic gameplan for what comes next. 


First - give yourself permission to feel all of the emotions. This is not a time to emotionally invalidate or bypass yourself with phrases like ‘everything happens for a reason’ or ‘it’s fine’. Grief, shock, panic, anger, embarrassment, confusion, self-doubt, and denial are all valid feelings to have. You shouldn’t expect yourself to be able to process all of them right away - so give yourself some grace and be gentle with yourself during this time.


Try this simple meditation to notice the emotions you’re feeling and to separate the emotion from you - the person experiencing it. Sit or lay quietly - place one hand on your heart and one on your stomach. Become aware of what you’re experiencing through your five senses - what can you see, what sounds you hear, the way your clothes feel against your body. As you breathe at a natural pace, notice the emotions that arise. As each comes up - sadness, for example - simply label it ‘emotion’ - noticing it’s a feeling you’re experiencing - and then come back to your breath and what you can observe through your five senses. This one-word labeling technique can help you realize how you feel is not who you are.


Take a minimum of one full day to keep the laptop closed, the resume untouched, and the LinkedIn searches a distant thought. Do something that brings you joy - whether that’s meeting up with a friend, going for a run, cooking your favorite meal, or binge watching an entire series on Netflix. If possible, try to get outside, even if just for fifteen minutes - the fresh air and expansiveness of the outdoors can help ground you. Whatever you decide to do, commit to yourself that this one day (minimum) is about taking care of yourself and focusing on where you find purpose outside of work. 


After you’ve taken the time to begin processing the emotions of the layoff and to do something you enjoy, reach out to someone you trust and share what you’re experiencing and how you’re feeling. A tip here from Fast Company - be upfront and honest about what you need from them when you share that you were let go from your job. Whether that’s ‘I just want to vent’ or ‘Can we set up some time next week to update my resume?’ or ‘I just need a good cry’ - be open about what you need. If you’re looking for someone to just listen and end up with a bunch of unsolicited advice instead, you may walk away from the conversation feeling worse. 


Once you feel you’re in the headspace to start thinking about what is next for your career, take the time to reflect on what was and wasn’t working in your previous company. Just as with everything else in life - no job is 100% perfect. Wherever you land next is also not going to be the panacea for your career aspirations - but it can check the boxes of what’s most important to you, what you most need from a company, team, or manager, and what gives you the most amount of satisfaction from your work. Journal your thoughts - notice as you take the time to go through this exercise what opportunities there are for you to look for something different - better - in your next role. 


Now - finally - log into LinkedIn. But before you start to mass Easy Apply or publish your #opentowork post, prioritize these two things: 


First - go to your inbox and contact every single recruiter who has reached out to you in the past 90 days. It doesn’t matter if you ever responded to them or not - utilize their network and expertise during this critical time. With more than enough work to be done as you update your resume, LinkedIn profile, network yourself, start to apply and interview, etc, recruiters are an invaluable resource to do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. If they know you’re looking for something and what you’re open to, they can keep you in mind for jobs they’re helping source either internally or for clients. This is the time to let the professionals do what they do best! If you don’t happen to have anything in your inbox from a recruiter, reach out to one! Go to your Network tab in LinkedIn > Manage My Network > Connections > Search with Filters > All Filters. Here, you can search your own network to pull up a curated list of qualified connections by filtering for anyone who talks about #recruiting and #hiring, or anyone in the Staffing and Recruiting industry.


Another LinkedIn tip to help you as you begin to talk to your network and recruiters about what you’re looking for:  think about some dream jobs - dream titles, dream companies, dream work - that you’re interested in pursuing. Find people at those companies, with those titles, doing that work on the platform. Look at their career history - what are some common themes and trends you’re noticing? What activities or groups are these people involved with outside of work? What specific projects, certifications, experiences, or tools do you see multiple people in these spaces working with? If you have any of these skills or experiences, prioritize highlighting them in your own LinkedIn page, resume, and as you interview. If you don’t, see if there are ways to start developing those skills, learning those tools, finding areas or similar roles that have a growth path to get you into that space. 

Getting laid off is never easy. It’s a unique experience to each individual and can dredge up some very real and uncomfortable emotions. As much as you’re able, keep in mind that getting laid off is not a reflection of your character, skillset, or value - more often that not, it’s a lack of proper resource management, workforce planning, or revenue forecasting from a business standpoint. Take the time immediately following the news to be gentle with yourself, connect with your support system, established network, and professional recruiters, reflect on what you need out of your next opportunity, and start to look for multiple avenues to get there, knowing that you will get there.


Lisa Bischoff

Lisa is the Program Manager for HubSearch's Employee Retention and People Operations offering. Her background is in designing and implementing employee experiences and strategies that create highly engaged and happy team members.