Climb the Ladder

7 Things to Do When You Get Laid-off or Fired

I’d like to be able to say that being fired four times in my life has really built character, but the truth is that it is not an experience I would wish upon anyone. Even when I knew it was coming, it always felt as though someone had just punched me in the gut (ouch!). 

According to the American Institute of Stress, being fired is one of the top 10 most stressful experiences that can occur in your lifetime. For some of us, this is a blow being dealt during the COVID-19 pandemic when much of what the future looks like is unknown and new. With that said, here are some things I have learned that might help you deal with what happens next, and what you can do to help keep moving forward one step at a time. 

1 | Give yourself time and space to grieve

Cry, vent, scream into a pillow, express your anger (not at others), and remember to lean on friends and family through Zoom/Facetime/Google Hangout video chats. Sappy music (Coldplay!) and dramatic movies (“PS I Love You”) can often be cathartic. Without allowing your body to complete the stress cycle, you run the risk of harboring these feelings for longer than necessary.

2 | Set daily goals and start a routine

When you feel you are done grieving and you can start doing things that are productive, set some goals. Every single day, make a list of things that you can realistically accomplish. I found it helpful to include things like exercise for 15 minutes, meditate for 15 minutes, finish resume (if not updated), research companies who are hiring, or reach out to 3 people in my network.

3 | Take care of your mental health

You are not the only person this has ever happened to, and you won’t be the last. Being fired doesn’t define who you are, and neither did the job or company that just let you go. Instead of ruminating on what happened, focus on next steps.

I found that daily meditation helps to manage negative thoughts and emotions. Apps like headspace (who are currently offering free services) can be a really great resource of comfort and calm. Exercising can also be a great way to elevate your mood (endorphins!) and can provide structure to your day. A quick Google or even Youtube search will provide a myriad of free workouts that you can do in your living room (or roof, kitchen, yard…), with or without equipment. 

4 | Research and create a list of companies that are hiring that you would want to work for.

You might be asking yourself, where do I start? Here are some things to think about when researching companies: What is the company culture like, what does the company do, do I want to work at a startup? 

Once you have your list of potential companies, the next step is to reach out to your network. As a general rule, it is incredibly important to maintain the network of relationships you have built on a professional level. If you have been fired, it is time to take advantage of these networks. 

Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you might not know, such as alumni from your college, or a secondary connection through LinkedIn. Typically, you might meet for coffee, etc., but, being in the middle of a pandemic calls for a little creativity. In this case, you might ask people to hop on the phone or to schedule a video chat. 

Also read: Why you should start your job search with companies, not job titles

5 | Update your resume (and create profiles on platforms like Scouted!)

Your resume is usually the one printed document to your name, so take the time to update and clean up your resume, and make sure to have other people check it over. If you want a good place to start, check out Scouted’s resume review guide

Once you feel good about your resume, creating profiles on platforms like Scouted will help you tell your story, your way, and can be a great tool to help you think about your strengths, and what you are looking for in your next role.

This list from Candor is also a great resource for knowing who is currently hiring and who has a hiring freeze.

6 | Understand your resources

During this time, everyone’s resources will look a little different. Do some research to know what’s available to you. You may have been provided a severance package or other resources, such as coaching or next-steps guidance, from your former employer. If you haven’t already, apply for unemployment and find out what healthcare assistance is available to you. 

7 | And at the end of the day… Be kind to yourself!

You might not be able to accomplish every goal that you set out to do for the day, but having concrete tasks and milestones to strive towards – especially ones that are productive towards your mental health and new job –  will feel rewarding. 

I’ll end with this: being humble and open-minded in this process is vital. Here at Scouted, we are all about helping candidates find their dream jobs. In moments like this, it’s important to remember that no one will hold getting laid off during this crisis against you. But the action you take to prepare yourself for what’s next (even if that action is getting in a good place mentally) will only help set you up for success.

Like what you’re reading? Sign up to get our best career advice and job search tips.


Candidates, Climb the Ladder