smartphone with to-do list

10 Things to do After a Layoff, to Get Yourself Back on Track


Losing a job is stressful. In fact, it is the eighth most stressful event in someone’s life (according to the Holmes and Rahe stress scale). Much of the stress associated with being laid off comes from the many uncertainties that suddenly arise. There is a lot to take in, a lot to process, and a lot to start doing, all in a short period of time.

If you’ve recently been through a layoff, here are 10 things you can do to help yourself recover and get on track toward landing your next job.

1. Stop Blaming Yourself

Losing your job through a layoff is not your fault. You may find yourself thinking, “What did I do wrong? Should I have worked harder?” When these thoughts arise, remind yourself that the layoff resulted from changes in the company, or in the economy. It was not you, personally.

You may feel a range of emotions as you experience your job loss: grief, denial, shock, anger, depression, etc. Share these feelings with close friends and family, and if feelings of anger or depression are severe, you may wish to seek counseling.

But, the most important thing is to work at accepting what has happened, and let go of the negative feelings. This will enable you to move forward and start developing your job search strategy.

2. Apply for Unemployment Insurance

As soon as possible, file your application for unemployment insurance with IDES, and register with Illinois JobLink. Unemployment benefits will help ease financial concerns while you conduct your job search.

3. Examine Your Health Insurance Options

If possible, arrange for some sort of health coverage during your period of unemployment. Ask your former employer about rules and costs under COBRA. Check out coverage options on the marketplace under the Affordable Care Act and/or look into an individual health insurance plan. Or, see if you can enroll under your spouse’s insurance plan.

4. Look into Reducing Bills and Start Conserving Your Money

piggy bank

After the layoff, try contacting your creditors, mortgage company, landlord, car loan, insurance, utilities and credit cards. Explain that you have been laid off and ask if you can go on a reduced monthly payment plan until you find employment. They may not be able to accommodate your request, but it’s worth trying.

Next, develop a new monthly budget and think about how you can cut unnecessary spending. Then, stick to that budget. This doesn’t mean you have to live like a pauper, but keep in mind that unemployment insurance currently lasts six months.

5. Stick to a Daily Schedule

While unemployed, it may be tempting to sleep late, or to spend the entire day in your pajamas. Don’t give into the temptation. Those are habits that will make you feel more disconnected from the workforce.

You should develop a daily routine that feels like a standard workday. Get out of bed at the same time you did while you were working, and set a time each day for various job search activities, including job searching and networking.

Stick to your job search plan and don’t get derailed by lack of action. It will take focus and determination not only to launch your job search, but to stay active in the process.

6. Start Your Job Search

Assess how ready you are to begin your job search. Do you understand current resume standards and formats? Do you know current trends in interviewing? You may wish to take our short Job Search Readiness quiz to help you figure that out.

Then, start researching companies you’d like to work for, and jobs for which you’re qualified. While looking at job descriptions, determine if getting new skills or professional certifications will make you more valuable on the job market, and more likely to get hired. If you need new skills, we’ve compiled a list of top skills and certifications that employers in DuPage County are looking for.

7. Update Your Resume

writing a resume

It may have been a while since the last time you updated your resume. You can begin by adding your latest job titles, skills and experience. But, your resume needs to be more than a laundry list of job duties. Employers want to know what value you’ll bring to their company, so instead of merely listing job duties, try to show achievements and accomplishments. Think about positive results that you achieved, and how you can quantify these results. Examples of this might be “increased sales by 30%” or “reduced waste by 12%.”

Also, do not use one “cookie cutter” resume for every job. Always tailor your resume and cover letter to each position that you apply for. In a nutshell, this means emphasizing the skills and experience that will make you appear to be a strong fit for each particular job. Take a look at what the job description specifically asks for, and make sure that your skills and experience are a strong match. Emphasize achievements that match what the employer will want you to achieve in that new job.

8. Think About How To Frame Your Layoff in an Interview

The layoff is bound to come up in a job interview, and you’ll need to be prepared to address the subject. It may be tempting to “vent” about the layoff, but don’t do that! You must remain positive in order to show the employer that you don’t think of yourself as a victim, and that you’ve moved past the layoff.

Mention the factual reasons for the layoff, e.g., the company was restructuring, or operations were being moved to a new location. Then add a positive spin, such as, “This has given me the opportunity to think about the kind of job I really want.”

9. Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

easter basket with eggs

During your job search, you will find a job opening that is absolutely perfect for you. You’ll craft the perfect resume, and you’ll get an interview. Maybe even a second interview. It will be easy for you to think that the job offer is coming any day, and you might decide to stop looking for other opportunities.

Keep looking. No matter how promising a job may seem, never count on getting the job offer, even if everything seems to be going your way. The selection process can go on for weeks, or even months, and even though you are completely qualified, the job may still go to someone else. You must continue to search for and apply to additional jobs.

10. Look Into Volunteer Opportunities

It may not seem to make sense, but volunteering can help your job search in a number of ways. It will keep you active, and prevent you from becoming isolated and “out of the loop.” It will also be a chance to expand your network, and might even be a path to unexpected opportunities for employment.

Here are a few websites where you can find opportunities for volunteering:

Putting It All Together

woman in business suit

Being laid off can be a big and unexpected change in your life.

By following the tips we’ve offered in this article, you can move through the difficulties of a layoff and start putting together an effective and targeted job search.

With the right combination of research, customized resumes, and plenty of networking, you’ll find yourself back on track and heading toward employment!

Were You Laid Off in DuPage County?

If so, you may be eligible for the federally funded services provided by the workNet DuPage Career Center. To find out, view our list of eligible DuPage County layoffs.