The loss of a job can be one of the most stressful times in a person’s life, but getting laid off doesn’t have to be a cause for doom and gloom. The trick to bouncing back is being proactive, and not so hard on yourself. After all, getting laid off is usually the result of things that are completely out of your control, which means there’s nothing tricky to explain when applying or interviewing for a new job.

Here are some tips for what to do when you get laid off.

Deal with the logistics

First things first, there are some details to iron out, particularly when it comes to the timeline of your layoff. Do you have a few weeks before your job ends? Or is your termination effective immediately? You might be asking, “What’s the difference? Either way I’m out of a job…” That’s fair, but you’ll want to understand how much longer you’re covered under employer benefits, and when you’ll receive your last paycheque.

Once you know that, it’s important to discuss unused sick days, vacation time, and a severance package. Severance packages vary greatly and can be dependent on the company, the province you’re in, and the amount of time you’ve been in your position. You can, however, often negotiate, and money isn’t the only thing on the table.

“Severance packages can sometimes also include career counselling and transitions services,” says Marsha Forde, Workopolis’ director of human resources. “If this is not explicitly stated or offered, ask about them. These kinds of services can be very helpful, especially if you’ve been at the same company for many years.”

No matter what is offered as severance, it’s vital that you get a layoff letter in writing from your HR department. It’s also extremely useful to ask for a letter of recommendation, as this will help your impending job hunt.

Access governmental services

A portion of your monthly pay goes into unemployment insurance for a reason, so now is the time to use it. It’s important to immediately inquire about what options are available to you, and then apply with the layoff letter you received from your employer. Government services may not cover your entire income, but this kind of buffer will provide some financial support and peace of mind during your transition period.

Take some personal time

It’s completely natural to feel upset after being laid off, but it’s also important to not let it get you down. As mentioned above, your layoff is likely not a result of your performance or contribution to the company.

To boost your self-esteem, take some time for you! Do some things you haven’t had time for in the past; see family and friends; explore the city or get out of town for a weekend. If these kinds of activities aren’t enough to put some pep back in your step, think back on all the positives from your last work experience (as difficult as that might seem). Then look back even further at your career highlights. Executive coaches the 5 O’Clock Club even recommend making a list of your top 25 professional accomplishments, which will reaffirm your confidence and faith in your skills and abilities.

“Engaging in that kind of activity can also help you pinpoint areas of improvement. If you have time, take the opportunity to update your skills or take courses into areas of interest. This will do wonders for your confidence, and can make you more marketable as a candidate,” Forde says.


When you feel confident enough to get back into the workforce, it’s time to tap into the network of contacts you’ve built up over the years. How? Start by updating your social media platforms, with a new employment status and qualifications on LinkedIn. Make sure that these are all conveying a professional appearance (meaning it’s time to delete any photos from your last night out with the girls). It should go without saying, but you should also update your resume.

Once you’ve made the necessary changes, start reaching out to old colleagues, clients, and associates. There’s no shame in letting people know you’re looking for new opportunities – they might just open the door to your next great job.

Don’t sell yourself short

Individuals in this situation often respond to job postings with a sense of urgency, particularly if they’re dealing with financial constraints. That’s understandable, but you don’t want to sell yourself short or jump into a job that doesn’t interest you or feel right. If time and money allows, focus on improving your resume and interview skills. That way, when the right position comes along, you’ll be ready.

It’s natural to feel stressed or worried after being laid off, but you don’t have to feel helpless (or hopeless). By focusing on you and being proactive, you can bounce back stronger than ever.