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Fired or Laid Off: What to Do Next?

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

If you’ve recently been fired or laid off from your job, it can be a confusing and overwhelming experience. You may be feeling anxious about your future and unsure of what to do next. But don’t worry - there are still options available to you. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the best steps to take after being fired or laid off, so you can make the most of a difficult situation.

Give Yourself Time to Grieve

Losing your job can be one of the most difficult and disheartening experiences. It can be hard to handle the emotions that come along with it – anxiety, depression, anger, shock – and it's important to acknowledge those feelings and give yourself time to grieve. Take some time away from your job search and focus on yourself. Get some rest, take a walk, or practice self-care. It's normal to experience a range of emotions after you are laid off and it’s important to not rush the grieving process.

Use this time as an opportunity to reboot, reflect, and grow. Use your severance package to fund a short trip or hobby that will help you relax and give yourself a break from job searching. When you're feeling rested and ready, it's time to get back into job search mode. Consider attending a career workshop or job fair to help jumpstart your search.

Write down your accomplishments

Losing a job can be a difficult and stressful experience, often leading to negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, and depression. However, research from positive psychology suggests that practicing gratitude and focusing on one's achievements can have significant benefits for well-being and resilience during difficult times.

According to Jonathan Haidt's "Happiness Hypothesis," individuals who practice gratitude are more likely to experience positive emotions, have stronger relationships, and feel more connected to others. By reflecting on one's accomplishments during a period of unemployment, individuals can boost their sense of self-worth and increase their confidence when seeking new job opportunities.

Moreover, expressive writing, a technique commonly used in positive psychology, can be particularly helpful in processing and coping with difficult emotions. Research has shown that expressive writing can lead to improved mental and physical health outcomes, including reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety.

To apply these principles in the context of job loss, individuals can make a list of their achievements, awards, and promotions during their time at the company. By reflecting on these successes and the skills gained through overcoming challenges, individuals can shift their focus away from negative emotions and towards their strengths and potential. Additionally, taking the time to write down these accomplishments can provide a sense of closure and help individuals move forward with greater confidence and optimism.

Update Your Resume and Cover Letter

When you are laid off, it is important to take the time to update your resume and cover letter. Writing a resume can be a daunting task. It requires a lot of thought and attention to detail, and it can be difficult to know where to start. However, approaching the task from a psychological perspective can make the process more manageable and even enjoyable. Here are some tips on how to do just that:

  1. Set clear goals: Before you start writing your resume, it's important to identify your goals. What kind of job are you looking for? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What do you want to achieve in your next position? By setting clear goals, you can focus your resume on the things that matter most to you and potential employers.

  2. Use positive language: Research from positive psychology shows that using positive language can have a big impact on our well-being and the way others perceive us. When writing your resume, try to focus on your achievements and strengths rather than your shortcomings. Use language that highlights your accomplishments and showcases your potential.

  3. Tell a story: Our brains are wired to remember stories, not lists of facts. Use storytelling techniques to make your resume more engaging and memorable. For example, instead of simply listing your previous job titles, describe your accomplishments in a way that tells a story about your skills and experience.

You should also consider tailoring your resume and cover letter to the industry or type of role you are interested in pursuing. If you are considering a career change, make sure you showcase the transferable skills that you have acquired over the years. These are the skills and abilities you have developed through previous experiences that can be applied to different job roles or industries. (Guide to Transferable Skills)

Finally, make sure your documents are free from any errors. Have a friend or mentor read over your resume and cover letter to make sure that everything looks professional and error-free. This is an important step in ensuring that you are putting your best foot forward when applying for jobs.

Review Health Insurance Options

Losing your job can be a scary and overwhelming experience. It is important to remember that you still have options when it comes to your health insurance. First, check with your employer to see if they are offering any COBRA benefits. COBRA stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, and it allows you to continue your health coverage under the same plan you had at your previous job. The cost of this coverage will likely be higher than what you paid while employed, but you are still eligible to use your previous health care providers and services.

If COBRA is not an option for you, investigate other health insurance options. Depending on where you live, there may be state or federal plans available. Additionally, you may qualify for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Additionally, if you are unemployed for more than 26 weeks, you may qualify for Unemployment Insurance benefits that include medical coverage. Finally, if you are able to purchase health insurance through a private company, do research to compare different plans and prices in order to find the one that best suits your needs.

No matter what option you choose, make sure to review the fine print of any agreement before signing. Also, keep all of your health insurance paperwork organized and easily accessible. With proper planning and preparation, you can ensure that your health is taken care of even after you lose your job.

Make sure your employer complied with the law

It is important to make sure that your former employer complied with the law when they laid you off. This can include things like ensuring they gave you all of the severance pay and benefits that are due, or making sure they followed the law when it comes to notification or layoffs.

You should also make sure that your employer has followed proper procedures when it comes to the hiring and firing process. You may be entitled to compensation if they did not adhere to the laws surrounding these processes.

It is important to know your rights and understand the laws that may be applicable in your situation. You should consult an attorney if you have any questions or concerns about whether your employer complied with the law.

An experienced lawyer can provide you with sound legal advice and help ensure that you are treated fairly in accordance with the law. They will be able to explain your rights and help you understand the various laws that may be applicable to your case.

Take Some Time for Yourself

It’s important to take some time for yourself after being laid off. It can be a difficult and emotionally draining time, so it is essential that you give yourself time to rest and relax. Take a break from your job search and do things that make you feel good, like going on a walk or spending time with friends or family. Focus on activities that give you joy and provide a sense of purpose. This will help you regain your energy and refresh your mind so that you can tackle the challenges ahead. Additionally, remind yourself of your worth and what you bring to the table. You are still an amazing person, despite the layoff, and your skills and experience are valuable.

Start Networking

After being laid off, networking is an essential part of finding the next job. It’s not just about exchanging business cards and information – it’s about building relationships. There are many benefits to networking, such as building your confidence, staying up to date on industry trends, accessing a support system, and most importantly, locating job opportunities.

One way to start networking after a layoff is to update your LinkedIn profile and join relevant groups. This will allow you to connect with like-minded professionals who may be able to help you in your job search. You can also network in person by attending local networking events or seminars. Connect with people you know in the industry, even if they’re not hiring at their company. You never know when they may hear of an opportunity that’s perfect for you.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to people you trust who may have insights into the job market. It can be beneficial to get feedback from multiple sources, so don’t hesitate to make connections with professionals who have a wealth of knowledge.

Networking can be an invaluable asset in your job search. Take advantage of the many resources available, and be sure to follow up with any contacts you make. With the right strategy and attitude, you can use networking to make the most of your post-layoff career.


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