What Does It Mean To Be Laid Off?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated April 1, 2021 | Published December 7, 2020

Updated April 1, 2021

Published December 7, 2020

Related: Job Cast: 10 Things To Do After Being Laid Off

Being laid off from your job can feel sudden and isolating, but you’re not alone. In this virtual workshop, we provide 10 steps you can take to set yourself up for success when finding a new job and ultimately growing your career.

Getting laid off is something that may happen to you during your career. While being laid off can be a challenging experience, you can work through it and continue on a successful career path. Learning how to handle this situation can help you develop a plan that benefits you both short and long term. In this article, we explain what getting laid off means and provide 11 tips for how to best manage this situation.

What does "laid off" mean?

A person is considered laid off when they lose a job through no fault of their own. This can happen under several scenarios, such as the company closing down, the company moving or the position being eliminated. Someone can also be laid off if there isn't enough work for them to complete. The reason for job termination is important to the employee because it can impact future job prospects along with unemployment benefits.

How getting laid off is different from getting fired

Getting fired is when someone loses a job through their own fault, which is different than being laid off. For example, poor performance could cause an employer to terminate an employee. While both terms refer to the loss of a position, which one applies depends on whether the employee was terminated for cause or for something they couldn't control.

Related: What To Do After Getting Fired

11 tips to handle being laid off

If you were laid off, try using some of these tips to help continue on your career path:

Manage emotions

It's natural to feel scared, anxious, frustrated or disappointed when you lose a job, but it's important to manage your emotions and keep a positive mindset. Staying positive can help you recover and move forward more quickly. To be more positive, think about the layoff as a temporary setback, and remember that you have the qualifications and experience that other employers seek.

Gather necessary information

After getting laid off, it's important to gather some necessary information from your former employer. The first thing to get is an official "laid-off letter" from the employer. This document should clearly state that you were terminated at no fault of your own.

Next, learn about the impact on any benefits packages. Learn about your options for health insurance, and see if you need to move your retirement savings into a new account. If you don't know yet, ask when you can expect your final paycheck, and update your address if your employer plans to mail a check.

Assess your financial situation

Getting laid off can have a significant impact on your financial situation. Before making any other decisions, it's important to determine how comfortable you are with your current finances. Some things to consider when assessing your financial situation include:

  • Other potential sources of income

  • Amount of savings available

  • How long savings will last

  • Cost-savings associated with no longer being employed

  • Other ways to cut costs temporarily

  • Essential bills and expenses

Determining these factors can help you decide how long you currently have to find another job and if you can reduce any unnecessary expenses until you find a new position.

Formulate a plan

In order to overcome a layoff, it's helpful to develop a plan that includes short- and long-term goals. Use this time to think about career goals along with the steps required to achieve them. Write out a list of actionable steps that can lead to getting a new job. Formulating a plan will help to add clarity and direction to the job search process.

For example, if you want a job that requires a certain certification, you can use some of your time off to earn this credential. Your action plan could then consist of steps like searching job sites each day and working toward the certification.

Update your resume

Use this time for resume updates, including information from the most recent employer. Include responsibilities, projects you worked on, special achievements and the skills you used while there. In your summary or objective, explain your layoff to show employers why you're searching for a job. This helps hiring managers understand the employment gap.

Read more: Guide To Updating Your Resume

Apply for the right jobs

It may be tempting to apply for as many jobs as possible to get a new position quickly, but it's usually helpful to carefully select jobs that best match your interests and qualifications. Looking for specific jobs and tailoring your resume for each application can help you stand out from other candidates and increase the likelihood that you'll get a role you enjoy long term. Search for jobs that match your skills, education and experience, then craft a sincere cover letter that explains your layoff, along with a resume that caters to the job.

Ask for help

Getting a new job may require asking for help from others. After being laid off, you can reach out to those around you, like friends, family members and professional contacts. Some assistance that your network can provide include:

  • Resume review

  • Job opening alerts

  • Introductions to hiring managers

  • Moral support

  • Financial assistance

  • Career advice

Get financial assistance

Being laid off typically means that you're eligible for unemployment benefits. This is different than if someone were to resign, as unemployment benefits are not usually available for those who voluntarily leave their position. Getting financial assistance can give you more time to find the right job without having to worry about basic necessities. Check with your state's labor department to see what type of benefits are available to you.

Learn new skills

A useful way to spend time after being laid off is by learning new skills. Use the time to study new things or develop skills that you can add to your resume. In addition to boosting your resume, developing new skills can help you expand your career opportunities and explore new paths. For example, after learning how to code your graphic design website, you may find that being a developer interests you.

Related: The Best Job Skills To Make Your Resume Stand Out

Prepare a story

Once the job interviews begin for a new position, it's important to explain your layoff. Employers often want to know about the circumstances around the dismissal, so it's best to prepare a short explanation that satisfies the question. For example, you could say "Due to the recent economic recession, my previous employer had to reduce staff, and I was, unfortunately, one of the newer employees, so I was laid off." You usually only need one or two sentences to explain the layoff.

Keep the momentum going

If unemployment time lasts too long, you may lose momentum while searching for jobs. Find ways to stay motivated and keep the momentum going. For example, take a break from applying to jobs for a day or two and instead focus on creative outlets. Try considering completely different career paths to see if there are positions that share similar skills or education as yours. Even if you don't follow this path, it can still be a good idea to consider other options and take a break from applying for jobs in your current field.

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