After a Layoff, These 4 Steps Will Help You Find Your Next Job

June 10, 2020

Organizations are having to make tough financial decisions, including laying off and furloughing employees. For those employees impacted, it adds more uncertainty to an already difficult situation.

Especially now, a job search can be daunting. That's why we wanted to surface some top takeaways from the new course, Recovering from a Layoff, where Brie Reynolds breaks down clear steps you can take to recover both personally and professionally.

Follow these steps—or create your own based on the course—to feel more confident and stay focused as you figure out your next career move.

Learn more in the course “Recovering from a Layoff.”

#1 Don’t rush in

While your instinct may be to find a new job as quickly as possible, it’s important to pause.

A job loss is just that—a loss. Acknowledge the loss as both a person and a professional, and give yourself time to recuperate by moving through feelings like grief, frustration, and worry.

When you take a step back, it also gives you a chance to evaluate the situation. Especially in the face of massive shifts in how we all work, maybe this is the time to follow a newfound passion, create a more flexible work arrangement, or shift gears to a different career path.

“Assessing what you really want in a new position will set you up for a much more productive job search and potentially a more rewarding future,” says Reynolds.

#2 Get the word out

Once you’ve processed your new reality, it’s time to put yourself out there and let people know you’re looking for a job. 

Think about the best ways your network can help you, starting with the people you know really well, then branching out. Reach out by email, then schedule a phone or video follow-up.

Most importantly, be specific with your ‘ask’ so people know how to respond and help. Here are some ideas:

  • For people in your network who have recently changed jobs, ask them how long the job search took, or their top three pieces of advice in looking for a job in this climate.

  • Ask for an introduction to people they know at a specific company you’re interested in. 

  • Ask for feedback on your resume or online profiles.

If the idea of networking after you’ve been laid off feels challenging, you’re not alone. Remember: Don’t dwell on the layoff. Focus instead on conveying that you’re ready and excited to tackle your job search. 

“Your confidence will make them more confident about helping you,” says Reynolds.

#3 Create a structured plan to stay on track

After a layoff, treat your job search like it’s your full-time job. 

“Recovering from a layoff can be a lengthy process, but creating a structured plan for your recovery will stop you from feeling so overwhelmed and put you on a path towards success,” says Reynolds.

At the beginning of your job search, focus on some foundational tasks: update your resume to suit different roles and industries; ask people in your network to review your resume; write and practice answers to interview questions. 

Then start to set—and make progress towards—weekly goals in three areas: 

  1. Reaching out to your current professional network

  2. Making new networking contacts

  3. Searching for open jobs

For example, your goals may be to email five colleagues, research five companies of interest and find people in your network connected to those companies, and apply to five jobs online. 

Then create a daily action plan of what you need to accomplish each day to meet those goals. 

Use a single document to track all of your goals and outreach—contact and company name, date contacted, application status, next step, etc. This will help you stay organized and also recognize all the hard work you’ve put in to get yourself back on track. 

#4 Nail the video interview

Interviews are nerve-wracking—even more so now when you’re interviewing via video call, and need to respond to why you were laid off. 

Keep your answers short and sweet, and get comfortable with pauses and silence. 

“When you've said enough, stop talking, and give them a chance to chime in,” says Reynolds.

Not only will this create connection when you’re not in person, but it will stop you from over-answering, especially on a tricky question. 

For example, if you’re asked why your job was eliminated or how many people were laid off with you, avoid the temptation to ramble on. Give the recruiter just enough information to satisfy their curiosity:

The company decided to cut costs and the layoff was purely a financial decision. I was sad to leave, but proud of the work that I accomplished and everything that I learned while I was there. 

My whole department was eliminated, which meant five of us were let go. My boss tried hard to keep us within the company, but the company said they needed to reduce headcount, so we couldn't be reassigned. 

My job was eliminated and the responsibilities were absorbed by the remaining team members. I know it was a tough decision for them and it wasn't performance related. I'm happy to provide you with references for my abilities. 

Complete your answer confidently, then pause and await the next question. 

This will help you come across in a positive light and stand out as a top candidate for the job.

Other courses you may be interested in: