What to do if you’ve been laid off

The first thing to recognise is that it can happen to anyone. It’s estimated that 55% of young workers can expect to be made redundant at some point in their careers.

Increasingly, your career path could depend on your ability to bounce back from a setback like this. So, we’ve gathered some expert views on how to address the emotional and practical challenges of being laid off.


Take a breather

There’s no need to make any hasty decisions: you’ve just had a major upheaval, so the first priority is to absorb the news. Experts say that taking a break to clear your head can be a good move just after being made redundant.

“The first phase is recovery,” says John Lees, career strategist and author of How to Get a Job You’ll Love. “Don’t make any big decisions in those first few days and don’t rush into the job market the day after you’ve received the news. You need time to process what happened and how you feel about it.”


Assess your finances

When you’re out of work, money is time – the time you’ve got to find a new job. So, you need a clear assessment of your savings and outgoings to work out the timescale for your job search. The more time you have, the more ambitious you can be.

“Figure out how long you have to look for a job — and give yourself as much time as possible to do so,” says Priscilla Claman, president of Career Strategies. “Also look at what you spend money on and think about ways you can cut back.”


Analyse what happened

The people who are most successful at bouncing back after being laid off take an analytical approach and consider the reasons for their redundancy. That may mean reconsidering the industry you work in if jobs are becoming scarce, or taking a look at any skill deficits you might have.

“What we know about those who fare better after losing their job is that they analyse what has happened and the context in a scientific way,” says Rob Goffee, professor of organisational behaviour at London Business School. “Use it as a way to re-develop yourself.”


Decide whether to reinvent yourself

Other researchers found two successful strategies for people rebuilding their careers: recreators who sought to find similar companies and colleagues to work with, and repurposers who looked for opportunities to bring their talents to new areas, which might involve retraining. 

“Our research suggests that either path may ultimately be successful; the key is taking the time to consider what you can salvage from your previous job and how to use it to get your next one,” say Eliana Crosina, assistant professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College, and Professor Michael at Boston College.