“Unfortunately, today is your last day with the company.”
Getting laid off can be sudden and can hit hard. It can be a departmental mass exodus, or a quiet restructure around the edges of the firm. Whatever the case is, it’s never the high point of one’s career. Suddenly your cushy pensioned job has been dissolved, and you’re standing at the curb with nothing but your personal belongings in a box and the memories of the past years at a company you spent more time at than your own home.
Some industries are more volatile and insecure than others, where layoffs are imminent if projects are tied to revenue. But it doesn’t change the fact that it’s still shocking, especially as a hard-working employee that just went from completing a home run to being told you’re out.
Now that the shock has worn off and you’ve shrugged off the “So what’s your next step?” questions from literally everyone, here are some important things you should do during your newfound freedom and quest for a new job.
1. Apply for EI
File for employment insurance right after your termination date. This is compensation provided to workers who lose their job through no fault of their own, so if you’ve been laid off, chances are you’re eligible. You never really know how long it’ll take to bridge the job gap, so a consistent stream of income is a good safety net, especially if you have dependents or debts to pay.
2. Shout it out from the rooftops
Not literally, but depending on your industry, let your network know that you are hot off the press and for hire. Not for the sympathy, but for the sudden availability – you’d be surprised about how many people are willing to help you out through connections, especially in the gig economy, after a mass layoff of talented individuals or creative roles. Don’t forget to turn on your recruiter notification on LinkedIn so they know you’re actively seeking a new job.
3. Ask for recommendation letters ASAP!
Gather up reference letters from management or your boss as soon as you feel ready. This way, you have them to distribute upon request during your search instead of having to ask ex-colleagues months later when the dust has settled and they’re too busy.
Take your time to figure out what your next steps are (maybe even enjoy a couple weeks of “every day is Friday” if you’ve been working for a long time). Ask yourself: Do you want to jump right back into the industry for round two? Or do you want to take a step back, go back to school, or even switch careers? You might have received a severance package and pay in lieu, so that relieves some financial pressure to buy some time for serious decision-making.
5. Say yes to paid resources
Some corporations offer third-party consultant companies to help their newly laid-off employees transition into a new role. Resist the urge to tear apart the cheery ‘next steps’ pamphlet and see what they have to offer. If you’ve been out of the unemployment game awhile, you probably need to revamp your resume, LinkedIn, and refresh those interview skills anyway. With all your free time, it’s worth having a consultant on your side for productivity and accountability during your search.
6. Refresh or learn a new skill/language
You’ve always wanted to improve your French for those bilingual job postings? Now you have some solid free time to dedicate to language training. As for your technical skills, take advantage of the plethora of tutorials on Lynda.com, Youtube or other online resources to keep fresh while you’re not using them. Nothing feels more productive that improving your skill set.
7. Use your network
Job boards (like us!) are an egg-cellent start, and they work even better when combined with networking. Now that the rooftops have been shouted upon, follow up on any leads, reach out to people in the industry you want to work in, or even create a group on social media for those laid off as a way to pool resources and stay updated.
Some days you’ll be more productive than others. You’ll feel guilty for waking up at 10 am. You’ll berate yourself for doing anything other than applying to jobs. But patience and perseverance are the names of the game. A job shouldn’t define your life’s purpose; don’t forget your talent and your skills just because you’re temporarily unemployed, and get out there and show them what you’re worth.