Skip to main contentA logo with &quat;the muse&quat; in dark blue text.
Advice / Job Search / Finding a Job

4 Steps to Take Right After a Layoff to Land Your Next Job ASAP

person sitting in an office in front of a computer scratching their head and thinking with a couple of coworkers visible in the background
Bailey Zelena; skynesher/Getty Images

No matter what your layoff looks like—whether you’ve worked for a company for ten months or ten years, whether you were notified by an impersonal email or with a compassionate sit-down conversation—it stings. For many of us, work is interwoven in our identities and how we contribute to the world, so when a company cuts us off, the questions that fill our heads aren’t just, “What will I do next?” but also, “Who am I?”

There’s a flood of complicated and heavy emotions to parse in the weeks that follow and it’s important to take the time to process them. But it’s also critical to take a few steps early on, ideally within the first 24 hours—because as time ticks, you’re distanced from the people, projects, and data that are invaluable in landing your next role. So you’ll want to do a few things to set yourself up to transition more quickly into an exciting new opportunity.

Here’s where my work comes in. I’m an outplacement coach, which means I assist professionals recently separated from their jobs in revamping their resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and cover letters; building a job search strategy; and preparing for interviews. I’ve supported some of the people behind recent headlines of mass layoffs seemingly everywhere.

But amidst all of this turmoil, I do have some good news: Nearly all clients I’ve worked with land a new position within three months. And some get there even more quickly. The clients that blaze through their career transitions tend to take one or more of these four steps right away—and you may want to do the same. 

Collect your docs and data.

A layoff may elicit a strong desire to reenact the Office Space scene where three geeks take their computer to a field and pulverize it while 90s gangster rap belts in the background. Please refrain.

Your computer holds loads of information that can help you build a strong professional brand and present yourself as a promising candidate in the job search. It’s best practice to keep an ongoing “brag file” with key achievements somewhere you’ll always be able to access (i.e., not on a work computer or account). But if you haven’t kept it up, collect what you can now. Here are a few things you should grab ASAP while you still have access to your work accounts:

  • Certifications
  • Reports/data
  • Client, boss, senior leader, peer, and any other accolades
  • Performance reviews
  • Promotional recognition
  • Results from impactful projects
  • Network contact information

Think about eye-catching quantifiers that provide clear evidence of your successes. Do you have a report showing a recent marketing strategy you pitched that increased readership? By what percent? Did your relationship-building skills increase revenue through sales or partnerships? How much? These numbers can bulk up your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile to help a reader see your scope of impact.

Then consider the voices behind your evidence. Why did your manager promote you? Why were you chosen to present a report to leadership? What was your reputation at work? Why did internal and external partners or clients request to work with you? These voices can be injected into your LinkedIn profile, cover letters, and interview responses.

Note that many companies will lock you out of your email and other accounts as soon as you’re laid off. If that’s the case, don’t fret. Past clients have been clever to request information from previous coworkers or managers, estimate numbers of impact, and use public company documents to link their contributions with positive outcomes.

Create or join a group with your fellow laid-off coworkers.

Mass layoffs may ignite anxiety, but they offer a silver lining: You’re not leaving alone. A growing number of my clients are jumping on Slack, Google Chat, and WhatsApp to form cyber huddles where they share job opportunities, connections, and empathy.

These networking groups lead to significant increases in LinkedIn connections, endorsements, and recommendations; referrals that accelerate the job search process; exposure to potential companies to add to their target lists; and one-on-one conversations about the culture, work-life balance, and more at prospective companies.

Share with your LinkedIn community.

When the only thing you do on LinkedIn after a layoff is toggle your profile to “Open to Work,” you’re not giving your network an opportunity to engage. A post about your recent layoff and hopes for your next career step sets the stage for your LinkedIn network to like, share, and send opportunities.

Daniel Roth, LinkedIn’s Editor in Chief, VP, shared a story about an attorney named Catherine Cambridge, for example, who was recently laid off and posted about it on LinkedIn. “I've had at least 30 people reach out with potential opportunities and have asked me directly to apply to open positions,” she told Roth.

This story is consistent with what I’ve seen with my clients. Those who promptly post about their layoffs have smoother transitions than those who don’t. One client showed me a spreadsheet of opportunities in our first session, all accumulated from one LinkedIn post that likely took her only 20 minutes to write.

Here are a few tips for writing a strong post that will attract engagement:

  • Tout your accomplishments.
  • Clearly state what you want in your next role and the unique impact you’ll bring.
  • Tag connections at companies you’re interested in working for.
  • Hashtag #OpenToWork, job titles of position(s) you want, and the industry so that recruiters can find you easily.

Here’s an example of what a post-layoff LinkedIn post could look like:

Linkedin network, I’m equal parts devastated and hopeful to share I’ve been laid off by Grow Group.

I truly loved my job. Working alongside teams of world-class content creators and communication strategists, I helped amplify Grow Group’s voice to attract over 15M followers and boost engagement by 34%. These were big wins we worked hard to achieve together—and wins we celebrated together, too!

In my next role, I want to continue leading the strategy and dispersion of attractive communication with an environmentally focused company. My marketing career started in content creation at OutdoorGirls and progressed to communications manager roles at Greenscape and Plant Right and most recently to the marketing director job at Grow Group.

I’m officially #opentowork and looking for #opportunities in San Diego, CA, or remote. You can reach out to me here on LinkedIn (my new BFF) or via email at I’m also open to coffee chats at my favorite shop Coffee Swell on J Street :)

Thanks in advance to my LinkedIn network and hugs to my fellow Grow Group teammates—let’s connect and support each other. #opentowork #marketingdirector #opportunities #DreamCompanyInc

LinkedIn, always a key ingredient in job search success, is having a moment in the wake of recent layoffs—so don’t wait to leverage it. Ultimately, you’ll save yourself time spent in the hamster wheel of job boards and applications and move forward instead with direct introductions to people and opportunities. (You can also follow up your general LinkedIn post with more targeted emails to your network in the days and weeks to come.)

Reach out to a career coach.

Meeting with a career coach can help you feel supported and guided in a productive, forward-focused direction. So scour your exit paperwork or specifically ask your HR specialist ASAP if career coaching is part of your severance package. If it is, reach out to your coach to get started sooner rather than later. There are also hundreds of coaches on LinkedIn with varying price ranges and expertise to help you get to your next step with a little more ease. And, of course, The Muse has dozens of coaches you can turn to!