let’s talk about layoffs — how to prepare and the fall-out afterwards

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes:

I have a question I’m hoping you can ask your readers. The tech industry is going through massive layoffs right now and it’s a pretty stressful time for those of us who are 35 and under, who didn’t go through the Dot-Com Bubble or were still in school during the Great Recession.

With second rounds of layoffs kicking off soon, I’m wondering if your readers who have been through layoffs before, regardless of the industry, can share any advice with us. It would be great to hear how people more experienced than us have approached preparing for layoffs, the immediate fallout afterwards, and the impact layoffs had on their overall career/faith in their industry.

Consider it asked. Readers with advice, please weigh in via the comment section.

{ 372 comments… read them below }

  1. Hills to Die on*

    1. Make yourself indispensable as possible and take on extra tasks if you can.
    2. Cut back on extra spending
    3. Get your resume updated and start looking around.
    4. Have a plan. Just knowing you have options is reassuring.
    5. Ask your manager about it – it may be that there will be layoffs but that they won’t be in your department.
    6. Work a second, part time job if you can.

    1. galaxyrow*

      1 and 6 are kind of at odds with each other, no?

      I’m in tech and it is absolutely stressful on all involved. 2 is a good one, but unless you’re very senior or very specialized, it is hard to even get a phone screening right now. People in tech are competing with those who have top tier/FAANG on their resume.

      1. NacSacJack*

        I concur. I thought if you worked a second job, that counted against your unemployment benefits (and may wipe them out if you earn more at the P/T job than you would get). Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but that was part of the issue with the CoVid-19 layoffs. Any monies you earned on the side counted against your base unemployment(Not the CoVid-19 $600/wk).

        1. HelloFromNY*

          Having a PT job May count against your unemployment, so each person would need to weigh the pros and cons. I was laid off in 2020 at the start of Covid. My little part time job kept me from losing my sanity during that time. It forced me to wake up, get dressed, and do stuff.

        2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          > I thought if you worked a second job, that counted against your unemployment benefits (and may wipe them out if you earn more at the P/T job than you would get)

          But instead of a gap on your resume, you have the part time work to talk about in subsequent applications… surely that is worth something

          1. There You Are*

            Depends on the job.

            I was finally caught up in the third or fourth round of layoffs at Household Name Software Company and immediately took a job at Home Depot to keep some kind of cash flow going.

            It was a huuuuuuuuuuuuge negative on my resume.

            I was in IT sales and all the hiring managers saw was, “Someone who isn’t good enough to be snapped up by another tech company,” not “Someone industrious enough to stay gainfully employed despite a setback.”

            It took me forever (2 years) to find another sales job, and it wasn’t even in tech. I ended up switching careers entirely after that non-tech sales job.

              1. There You Are*

                Then I would have had a two-year gap, and still would have had the same problem: “This is someone who isn’t good enough to be snapped up by another tech company.”

      2. Hills to Die on*

        I have done 1 and 6 together, actually. And I am in tech too.
        They are just options.
        I am not saying someone should do all of them or any of them.

        Maybe your have benefits through a spouse or a parent.
        Maybe you can do both a part time job and extra at work, maybe only one is an option. Maybe neither.
        Maybe you get a part time job and then quit that when you are laid off so you can focus on your job search. Maybe the part time job pays more than the unemployment.

          1. Hills to Die on*

            Waiting tables, grocery cart order picking, phone s3x, consulting.
            I live in a high COLA and I am a single mom. It takes what it takes.

            1. Hills to Die on*

              And really, since I Went There, I will say that I could have supported myself and my kids on just the phone s3x thing. I just hated doing it.
              Like I said, it’s an option. It’s not everyone’s choice, but it is an option. Had a coworker who paid cash for a house in Hawaii that way and she was not even the top earner.

              1. Color me silly*

                Obviously I need more caffeine today. I kept looking at “phone s3x” and wondering what she meant. Is she telemarketing?? Is it some kind of phone computer thingy?? Then it dawned on me. duh

                1. MigraineMonth*

                  I assumed it was the newest Samsung smartphone model. The Samsung 3X with 4G hookup.

                1. Hills to Die on*

                  Fake name, fake profile – ‘consultant’ who owns the rights to the model’s photos let me use them for a fee. There’s a website where you post a profile and you build a client base. Rings to your phone but they can’t see your number. It’s all automated and it’s about $2/minute plus tips.

                1. Reluctant Mezzo*

                  Some people just want a human voice and are willing to pay for it, rather than hear “Hi, this is Jake from Discover” type automated dialog.

          2. PotteryYarn*

            My husband and I also both have part-time jobs. He is in healthcare in a specialized position and moonlights in a more traditional setting for his occupation. I am in communications and teach fitness classes in the evening/on weekends, which is what I did full time before taking my current job. Both of these part-time jobs have a fair amount of flex to them, and we can pick up extra shifts where we currently do the part-time work or utilize our networks to get in at other facilities for additional work if needed. We’re also both go-getters at our main jobs and wear a lot of hats so that we are both indispensable at our current workplaces and also have a ton of marketable skills if we do get laid off.

          3. Mid*

            Not who you asked, but one of my side jobs is as a relief carer for families with children with disabilities. It’s really flexible, and if you have experience working with kids, is something that most areas need more of! I also have kept some freelancing in random areas (SEO, editing), worked at a grocery store part time (unionized job too! So good pay and a good schedule). All of those side jobs are unrelated to my current work, which is intentional because conflicts of interest are a big deal in my field, and it keeps my skill set diverse and my employment less tied to one industry.

      3. Yorick*

        I don’t think 1 and 6 are at odds. Making yourself indispensable doesn’t mean working more. My husband talks about increasing job security by finding out what no one likes to do and making that your thing. Taking on extra tasks might mean working more, or might just mean diversifying the work you’re doing during the same hours.

        I also think it’s ok to give many suggestions that don’t work together. Readers can pick which suggestions they’d rather do.

      4. Tech Hiring Manager*

        For what it’s worth, I am in tech now and hiring for several open roles. We’re not really finding that the FAANG candidates are the ones we’re interested in pursuing , in large part because many of them either make it obvious that they’d only stay while the economy is bad or bring a very competitive attitude that won’t work in our very collaborative environment. So if you’re looking, keep your chin up and invest in a good cover letter!

        1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          That’s a rather prejudicial, pompous attitude, is it not?

          1. Fishsticks*

            I think the commenter is saying that during interviews, these candidates are not the most promising because they are communicating either an attitude that won’t fit with the company’s need for collaboration OR they are clearly intending to use it as a kind of treading-water job until the economy gets better, not that they aren’t interviewing them at all.

          2. AnonForThis*

            I don’t think so. I have a FAANG company on my resume, and when I interviewed for a public sector job the hiring manager spoke to me several times to check that I was sure about making that switch. It was the right move for me, but that was a choice I made for myself (and wasn’t forced into by a bad job market and the need to eat). Even so, there are times I chafe at the slower pace and worse processes.

        2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          Let me clarify – if you are disqualifying candidates based on the fact that they worked at a FAANG outfit – isn’t that showing a bit of presumption – and you’re going to turn away viable candidates because of that?


          1. We Named The Dog Indiana*

            What you are describing would be quite unfair… but I read the comment as saying that AFTER interviewing some of these candidates, it’s a pattern they’ve unfortunately noticed (and so they wouldn’t automatically avoid non-FAANG candidates; they’re instead looking for candidates who fit a different pattern)

          2. It's Kind of a Cosmic Gumbo*

            That’s not what they’re saying though? They’re saying that the FAANG candidates they are interviewing are not the right fit for their open positions, not that they are deliberately disqualifying candidates with FAANG experience.

          3. danmei kid*

            That is not what I read in their words. I read that they have been finding that some of the FAANG candidates they interview are showing a pattern – not that they are rejecting those resumes outright, or that they would never hire any one of those candidates that was a right fit.

            Since they are responding to someone who was worried about competing with FAANG candidates, to give them their real world experience, it makes sense to discuss the patterns they are seeing that might reassure the OP that just having something on your resume doesn’t make you an automatic shoe-in for every job you go for.

            Curious how you got to your interpretation, since it differs so much from mine, and we assumedly read the same words. Where did you see them saying they were proactively disqualifying & pre-emptively discarding candidates who worked at a FAANG outfit? I’ve re-read and re-read and can’t figure it out.

      5. Good grief*

        1 and 6 are.not mutually exclusive. Us really old farts remember double digit rust belt unemployment. You hustled or 10 people were ready to take your job.

      6. 15 Pieces of Flair*

        Getting interviews in tech is more difficult now than it was a year or two ago but not impossible. That’s a reason to start the job hunt early rather than waiting to be laid off.

        In January, a hiring freeze, which preceded a lay off, at my last company eliminated the headcount for my promised promotion and left me covering multiple sales roles indefinitely. While mass layoffs across the industry were concerning, I hated my job and had the financial cushion/frugal lifestyle to leave. Almost everyone I told thought I was crazy to resign without another job locked down, but I knew I needed the time and mental/emotional bandwidth to figure out my next step.

        I reached out to former colleagues for leads and referrals, spent some time learning Docker and Kubernetes in case I needed to be more technical in my next role, and prepared really well for interviews. In six weeks, I interviewed with five companies and received two good offers. The position that I accepted is higher level (Sr. Manager vs Sr individual contributor), more in line with my skills and goals (no sales responsibilities), and pays ~25% more (287k OTE vs. 231k OTE) than my last job with a much higher base (205k vs 162k).

        While I’m a good interviewer and great negotiator, I’m neither particularly senior nor super technical. Since tech is my second career, I only have 9 years of directly relevant experience and my masters is in the social sciences. I’ve never worked for a MAANG company, am not a white man, and grew up lower middle/working class in Appalachia. Getting a good job in this climate is difficult but not impossible.

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      Does number one work? The impression I get from news accounts is that these layoffs are of the wide swaths variety, up to entire divisions. Making yourself indispensable is good for the “Manager Bob, you need to reduce your head count by two” sort of layoff, but not when Manager Bob is heading out the door along with the rest of his team.

      1. Felicity*

        I think #1 can help but it’s never going to guarantee avoiding a layoff. Just an anecdote: I work in the IT department of a large company and we had a round of layoffs in the last 6 months. Our org’s setup was: I have 20 Lead [individual contributor title] in the org and I can only keep 16, and 6 of you have exactly the same skill set. So when we saw layoffs, it was clear that they chose the best performers to stay in that role and laid others off that didn’t have unique responsibilities or skills.

        Also our company has a period where those laid off can apply into open roles elsewhere in the company, and having a diversified skill set can only help you find a new spot.

      2. danmei kid*

        Number 1 doesn’t work primarily because the hard truth is: no one is truly indispensable.

    3. irene adler*

      All good points.

      RE: #5
      Don’t trust too hard in the manager’s response to asking about who will be affected by a layoff. They may not be at liberty to tell you anything.

      My lab tech had heard rumors about layoffs. She asked me about them. I hadn’t heard a thing about it. So, I went to the CEO and asked. He went on at length to assure me nothing could be further from the truth. I reported this to my lab tech who was much relieved.

      That Friday my lab tech was laid off. There were a few more -from other departments.

      (Yeah, I felt very betrayed by this. But I bet CEO did this as he didn’t want the news to go out early.)

      1. Venus*

        They can’t tell you ahead of time even if they know. They will tell people at the time they are given so don’t bother asking.

        1. Hills to Die on*

          Im my company, they have said that if they have to do layoffs, it will be in X department, not my hard-to-staff department.
          They may have details – I honestly cannot count how many times I have heard that if they are doing layoffs, it will be on Team Llama and not Team Teapot. Multiple companies over the years.
          They may not be able to tell you a thing, whether they know or not. But there may be information out there.

          1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

            The reason I don’t ask is that there MAY be information, but I can’t trust it. And not because people are being shady, but because things change or they don’t have all the info or they can’t say. Any answer I get is possibly wrong, so asking isn’t going to alleviate my anxiety! The only answer that’s useful is my group/role is on the chopping block.

            Many years ago I was laid off. That week, my boss had pulled me aside and told me layoffs were happening due to financial issues, and that she and I would be the only ones left in our group. Everyone else was going. Then the night before layoffs, our biggest client fired us! So I was also let go in the morning even though that wasn’t the plan.

          2. I Need Coffee*

            My former company’s lay-off list was controlled at the highest level and was notoriously in flux even after employee notifications started. I wouldn’t trust any information I received in advance of hearing that the notifications have been completed.

        2. ICodeForFood*

          I’ve been in a situation where my immediate manger and my grandboss were lied to about layoffs… they told us the lies they’d been told, and then we were ALL laid off, including our VP. My grandboss felt terrible about it… but he wasn’t told the truth, so how could he have known?
          That was a LONG time ago, and I am happy to report that everyone eventually found other work and we all continued with our careers. And in the meantime, while we were all unemployed, we had a great game of Scrabble going among those of us who were Scrabble players.
          You, OP, will get through this, too, even if you are laid off.

      2. NacSacJack*

        Management themselves may not know. One of our managers was very open about layoffs when it happened at my workplace. She knew it was happening, because her boss, our director, would get agitated. She was helping make decisions that would affect people she knew. As she explained to us, the director got a list that morning of who to lay off. No notice or heads up before then. So the decision may be made far above their heads and they themselves might be included.

        1. datamuse*

          Yes. Thankfully I haven’t had to lay anyone off, but in conversations around headcount any recommendations I make are recommendations only. The decision is made a couple of administrative layers above me.

      3. Anon for this*

        I was a manager who told my team that I wasn’t worried about layoffs — yes, things were rough in our industry, but our division had never been affected. I’d tell them when I was worried.

        I still wasn’t particularly worried two months later. And then they announced we were losing 10 percent of our staff.

        I will never suggest again that I have any window into high-level corporate decisions — and even though I did know a few days before the official announcement, of course I couldn’t share anything with my team.

        1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          My supervisor keeps saying that — she has no reason to believe jobs are in jeopardy even though there are reasons to believe they could be. While I take her optimism into account, she won’t know until she knows and she could easily be wrong.

      4. Fishsticks*

        Yeah, every C-suite person is going to swear up and down layoffs aren’t happening until the exact time they happen.

    4. KatieKat*

      This is generally a very good list, although I don’t agree with #6 – unlikely to be super useful, and likely to be extremely stressful. On #5 it is also possible your manager won’t know (and will be in line for layoffs themselves) so take anything you hear with a grain of salt.

      Having been through a few layoffs, I would add:
      7. Understand your own savings — how long can you be out of work with no (or minimal) serious pain? By when will you *need* a job — even if you can’t get a good one / one in your field?
      For me this was reassuring – it was longer than a typical job search takes, and I could hold out for a while looking for something that actually interested me (although my timing was not coinciding with broader industry shifts, which does make a difference).

      8. Understand your state unemployment system — what documents will you need, what’s the waiting period, what amount will it provide?

      1. KatieKat*

        I’ll add just for clarity – I understand that not everyone even has liquid savings they can rely on — this advice is based on what I’ve seen as typical in tech, which I think is what we’re talking about based on the details in the letter!

      2. Hills to Die on*

        All good points – everything is subject to the nuances of the situation!

        I would also say that understanding the unemployment process in advance is key for where I live – it takes over a month to start getting benefits so you want to sign up That Day.

        1. Mugwump*

          With severance, when your unemployment kicks in depends on how your severance is structured, as well as your state’s unemployment rules. I’ve been laid off more than once (high tech, mergers & acquisitions, and one company who let people go when they couldn’t make payroll). Each time I got severance (amounts varied greatly) and it never delayed my unemployment.

          Sign up for unemployment as soon as you get laid off. Your claim will be reviewed, and if your particular severance deal will delay unemployment, the state will tell you. Don’t assume that you have to wait. In fact some states have a waiting period that starts when you apply, so delaying could cost you a week of benefits.

          As for your mental state – in almost every instance of layoffs, it’s not about your personal work or value.

          Except age. Unless the company is getting rid of an entire department at once, I’m convinced they want to winnow out older workers, especially if the company is self-insured. In these cases they will include just enough younger workers so the company isn’t accused of age discrimination.

          1. Reluctant Mezzo*

            Not that it matters if a company is accused of age discrimination or not–those class action suits have typically failed, alas.

      3. Ms. Rogerina Meddows*

        Adding to the additions:

        9. Understand that if you receive a severance payment from your company, it could affect your unemployment benefits and when you’re eligible to receive them. I received 6 months’ pay as my severance when I got laid off, and my state unemployment office said I was ineligible for unemployment benefits for the first 6 months I was unemployed because I received the severance, which was more than the unemployment maximum. I went into it expecting to have a nice little nest egg, or at least a financial cushion, and instead I was living off my severance, and it was gone by the time the 6 months were over.

        To comment on the original list by Hills To Die On:
        1. Literally does not matter one iota if your entire department ends up being laid off, as was the case with me.
        2. Great advice.
        3. Great advice.
        4. Great advice.
        5. Does absolutey nothing. Your manager might not have prior knowledge of layoffs and will find out when you do or just before, might be sworn to secrecy if they do know and will be forced to demur or lie to you if you ask, or might be on the layoff list themselves. The powers that be want to carefully control the message and will tell you when they tell you. (Sorry, I know that’s not reassuring, but it’s the way it is.)
        6. Know that part-time work can and will affect unemployment eligibility, depending on your state. In my state you’re allowed to work up to 10 hours a week without it affecting your benefits, but different state laws vary.

        1. Waffles, Friends, Work*

          Hard agree with 1 not mattering in the case of mass layoffs. There is no making oneself “indispensible” when hundreds or thousands of people are being let go. At that scale, the decision-makers are not sifting through individuals’ performance reviews and task lists; they’re pulling up org charts and taking hatchets to them.

          Source: I won a company-wide award for above-and-beyond performance three weeks before my position was eliminated (journalism, 2000s)

        2. NacSacJack*

          #9 from Ms. Meadows above

          This –^

          A long time ago, when my company laid off people they gave them a huge lump sum of severance. In my state, any severance you’re given is expected to cover the length of time the serverance was paid out in equal to, such as 10 years service = 20 weeks severance. Then, after the 20 weeks, you have wait two more weeks before getting unemployment. Unfortunately, people spent that severance faster than expected and still had to wait out the term.

          How’d we find out? The company cut too much and wanted to hire back people. In order to hire them back, the employees had to pay back their unused severance…some didnt have it (Its all gone!). Nowadays, my employer pays out severance like payroll, every two weeks until the severance is satisfied.

          1. Frank Doyle*

            Are you saying that there were people who were not working, were receiving their normal salary, and spent that money faster than they did when they were working?

            I’m sure there were some instances where that made sense (their spouse was laid off at the same time and *didn’t* receive severance, for example) but in general that just sounds like . . . people who are bad with money.

            1. wonderl@nd*

              I think they meant that the person got 20 weeks of pay in a lump sum (i.e. all at once), and had to make it last 20 actual weeks before the UI payments would kick in. I hate that, because lump sum severance usually puts you in a different tax bracket, or gets taxed at the bonus rate, so it’s actually NOT as much $$ as you’d need.

            2. Kindred Spirit*

              I have seen that happen before, more than a few times. There is a set of people who are convinced that they will be in high demand and can get a job any time they want, so they treat severance as a windfall and go on a dream vacation, do some home improvement project, or buy something nice for themselves instead of using it to pay for their living expenses or banking it if they don’t need it right away.

              For some of them, it worked out just fine, and they did get another position on their timetable. Other people had some stressful weeks/months after they’d burned through the money and didn’t land a job right away. It takes a high level of confidence and hubris to do what they did.

        3. Wilbur*

          My company (I was a contractor) had waves of layoffs a few years ago. #1 did not help me from getting laid off, or anyone I knew. There were plenty of people who had deep expertise that was lost forever. I did get rehired (as a contractor again) two months later because I was young, cheap, and had a lot of adaptable skills.

          I’d say take a week or two off. I had an interview the day after I got laid off, thought I felt pretty good, but I just wasn’t ready mentally. Blew the interview (which was the 2nd round interview, they loved me in the first round).

          I was burned out for years after, partly because I worked so hard to make myself indispensable, partly because I was going right back into the same situation when I was rehired. I was still doing the work that I was before, I wasn’t expanding my skills/experience, developing and I wasn’t any closer to having a career. I eventually got hired on directly and got a huge bump in pay/benefits, but I spent years doubting my decisions.

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        #6 works if you do something VERY different that you love that recharges you. A classic being someone with a solo, sedentary day job working weekend/evening shifts at a gym.

    5. Rex Libris*

      Working through what your options are is the most important thing, as far as managing the stress. In my experience, most anxiety comes from not having an answer to “If the worst happens, how will I be okay?”

      1. Hills to Die on*

        When you get laid off there may be a package for career consulting services, extending your health benefits, counseling, etc. I suggest using all of it and any other resources available to you.
        Some of it will just be stressful but self care is essential IMO.
        I kept my gym membership and went every day to take care of my health and relieve stress. Get enough sleep, hydrate, stay connected with friends, see a therapist, fall back on your religion / faith if that’s your thing, network and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there to people. Tell your LinkedIn connections what’s going on and what you are looking for. Not everyone will help you (or even answer) but people will.
        And know that it IS temporary.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Take the outplacement classes– any and all of them. I was glad to have a schedule of sorts; it kept me from feeling quite so topsy turvy. And the interview practice with my former co-workers seemed goofy until we found ourselves suggesting this to the mock-interviewees that they had forgotten. We all added bullet points because of that.

          I’d also suggest Toastmasters even if you’ve never gone, simply for the practice answering questions on the fly. And talking–interviews can be a lot of talking, and sometimes being home alone can get us out of practice at the time we most need it.

    6. Clisby*

      I went through this on my husband’s behalf, not myself – but these are all good.

      We also investigated health insurance options – we would have been guaranteed access to COBRA, but that costs an arm and a leg, so after checking around we went with an old-fashioned BC/BS catastrophic plan (essentially the same type of insurance I had up until my mid-30s). We were lucky in that we were all healthy, I didn’t need maternity benefits, nobody had a chronic illness, and we could afford the occasional doctor visit/kid immunization/prescription. In other cases, this simply would not have worked and we’d have had to figure out how to pay for COBRA. Now, the ACA marketplace exists – that’s what we’d have turned to if it had been available back then.

      Also, I was working part-time remotely and started looking for full-time work. Turned out my current employer had plenty of work for me full-time, so that was a relief. I was an hourly contractor, so had few benefits, but with me working full time, we at least could have paid our bills.

    7. I don’t post often*

      Agree with everything here. I made a job last an additional five years (and I worked from home!) because I was simply willing to take on any task. Oh the mail needs sorting? No problem. Oh the files need to be boxed up and shipped to long term storage and no one knows that process? No problem I’ll figure it out! Oh someone needs to go to county board meetings and determine what will happen to our real estate taxes- or spend hours digging through public sites to find the right form? Happy too!

      I also agree with the cut back on spending thoughts. I typically contribute between 10-20% in retirement. In 2020 things at work were very shaky so I reduced that amount until we were certain we had 3 months of living expenses on hand. I know that retirement is a long term investment, but reducing my contributions for two quarters during an uncertain time to allow more liquid savings was a huge help at that time.

    8. Just Here for the Cake*

      I experienced a layoff pretty early in my career. My biggest piece of advice is to try to understand that most of the time it’s has nothing to do with what you did. You could work really hard and be indispensable, but the company could go in a different direction, relocate your department, etc. If it happens, feel your emotions (because rejection is hard), but try not to blame yourself.

    9. ICodeForFood*

      #2 – Cutting back on extra spending – was always a definite must for me (and I’ve been laid off, through no fault of my own, FIVE times over the course of my “career”). As soon as it felt like there might be a layoff, I reduced discretionary spending, and I also started tossing about $5 into an envelope every week (which was worth more decades ago, and even the last time I was laid off 15 years ago). That way I had a little cash put aside for an emergency, or a small splurge when I needed it…
      And definitely #3 – update your resume – so you feel ready when you see a job that’s a possibility.

      1. wonderl@nd*

        I recommend updating your resume on a regular basis anyway – anytime you take on new tasks/responsibilities, have a new accomplishment, etc, update your”master” resume so you don’t lose track of your awesomeness when you’re stressed and NEED to find a job.

    10. Podkayne*

      “Making your self indispensable and ….” My direct observation of this in past layoff purges is that this has little impact on who gets cut. Mostly low-hanging fruit cut: employees with higher pay (which often results in disparate impact on older staff), stripping away entire bands of supervisors/managers, and recent hires. … Entire units cut. … Besides, one must always renember this organizational bromide: “The graveyards are filled with indispensable prople.” …. I’ve seen too many “indispensable people, ” who gave their whole selves to their organization to get cut in a “reorganization” or mass layoff. Heartbreaking to see. ….

  2. No Crying in Baseball*

    I was laid off during the pandemic, along with millions of others. My company announced layoffs were coming. And it still hurt. It shook my confidence in a way I never expected. Why me? Why did others get to stay? It took me a long time to get over the personal side of it and realize it was a numbers game more than anything else. I was skittish of my industry for awhile, but recently took a job at a different company back in that industry, because I love it. It’s known for it’s cyclical nature and ties to the economy, but I love it. I’m glad I took the position I have now. Advice: It isn’t you. Life goes on. Keep your passions alive and don’t be scared to take a chance.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      It really isn’t personal. I have seen some top performers and amazing coworkers get laid off when some feckless rando kept their job.

      1. World Weary*

        It was seeing things like this that made me understand that hard work and talent are not rewarded as much as the big boss really liking you. In every layoff, my boss and their boss always fought for me and lost.

    2. Spearmint*

      Yeah, some people have this idea that if you work hard enough or are to are talented enough you can make yourself immune to layoffs, but that isn’t always true. It’s not personal and has more to do with the company overspending in some areas in the past or being forced to cut back due to budget constraints.

      1. Dust Bunny*


        My job (not tech) had to lay off some people a few years ago but it was because they worked in departments that are shrinking due to shifts in how our work is done–we just didn’t need that many people to do those jobs any more and there wasn’t enough work to go around. Some people were transitioned to other departments that needed more hands, but the ones who didn’t want to do that or for whom that would have been a step down were let go.

        1. evee*

          As someone who is trying to break into IT/Data analytics, any advice while the tech industry is going through all these layoffs and the job market is cooling down?

          1. Hills to Die on*

            Look at different geographic markets in the country. Some places can’t get enough IT people and my company is one of them. Also look at different industries and companies. Some companies operate very lean and don’t do layoffs, some do them 3 out of 4 quarters of the year. Do the research and see what fits for you and your background.

          2. Cyborg Llama Horde*

            If you’re willing to work in-person, that can help — I know it’s hard to hire for in-person tech workers in some areas (helpdesk type jobs is what I’ve seen, but there may be others).

          3. No Crying in Baseball*

            Agree on looking at different industries. Tech isn’t the only industry who needs data analytics. Lots of companies have tech solutions or platforms but aren’t actually in the tech industry. Finance, Pharmaceuticals, Marketing all come to mind. I asked the other day if my Talent Management company had a data analyst/data scientist because I needed one. (We don’t – and you bet I’m advocating for it!)

          4. Calpurrnia*

            The great thing about data analytics is that it applies equally to just about every industry! I work for a consulting company doing data analytics and the clients I’ve worked for include apparel sales, pet food manufacturing, custom paper products, medical device sales, breweries/distilleries, sports goods import… Turns out when you need to understand your products’ sales performance or track materials costs in your inventory, it literally doesn’t matter *what* you’ve got in your warehouse. Before I got into consulting I was doing analysis in the transportation industry. My spouse is a video game developer and works with their data analysts all the time. There’s a WORLD of companies that are after data analysts, definitely don’t limit yourself to tech companies!

      2. Agile Phalanges*

        I’m sure the decision-makers do their best to set an objective “rule” and stick to it, to avoid any appearance of discrimination. So FIFO, LIFO, highest-paid, or other arbitrary cutoff, which can result in not keeping the cream of the crop sometimes. Probably not the best for productivity among those who remain, but at least keeps the company away from most discrimination claims.

      3. Rex Libris*

        It also has a great deal to do with what upper management perceives as the most essential functions and departments, which rarely coincides with actual reality.

        1. Lyudie*

          Ha my company learned that after laying off most of my old department. They’re now staffing back up because someone somewhere finally figured that out. I suspect customer complaints that documentation wasn’t being updated had something to do with it.

          1. MaryLoo*

            One of the most egregious example was a company (I’d already left) whose clueless Powers That Be didn’t like the results they were getting from the engineering department. So they hired an entire new set of engineers in secret – interviews off site, etc. Then on a Friday the PTB laid off the entire engineering department, and on Monday brought in all the new engineers.
            The amount of institutional knowledge that went out the door that Friday was immense. Company never recovered and eventually shrank to a small number of people doing consulting work on their old product. I think the company eventually folded.

            1. Fishsticks*

              But for one shining moment in time, somebody felt really proud of themselves for saving money by signing the company’s death warrant.

      4. Reluctant Mezzo*

        When my Old Company had layoffs, I realize that they would have to pay A Nice Large Check for my ESOP and I sincerely doubted they were going to do that–I noticed that I and other people in a similar position were kept on when other were not (later on they tried to fool around with the ESOP and took a percentage for themselves when I retired that I thought a tad unseemly, but that’s was a different story and someone else paid the lawyers on that one).

    3. Lyudie*

      I just want to stress the “not personal” aspect as well. It has nothing to do with you personally, as personal as it feels. I was a contractor for years, sometimes contractors are the safest (no overhead, we’re cheaper) and sometimes the first on the chopping block (less investment in us, seen as easily replaceable later if needed). Company might be shifting priorities, might have redundancies due to a merger, or any other slew of things that you may or may not have insight into. But it does not reflect on you. I have been seeing a lot of things about “gen z ditching the stigma around layoffs” and it makes me sad that there ever was one. Maybe it’s because I went into tech in the late 90s straight out of college and had a number of older coworkers who had been through layoffs before, but I learned early that layoffs are a business decision and do not say anything about the person being laid off.

    4. The New Wanderer*

      I’ve been laid off twice. The first was the scenario of being told and leaving that same morning, so it was abrupt but not unexpected. There had been several waves of layoffs in the previous months and the entire company eventually shed 90% of its workforce and was bought out a year or so later. As a relatively new employee of just over a year, I had no big personal feelings about that and had been thinking of moving on in a year or two anyway.

      The second was subject to the WARN act, so I had 60 days’ notice. It rattled me a lot more, because I had been with that company for over a decade (many people stay their entire careers) and was pretty invested in the work. I also considered myself fairly safe and had several people try to convince senior management to keep me, but (foreshadowing the future) the senior manager definitely wanted me personally gone. I had a lot more trouble processing that layoff because my life circumstances had changed and my concept of my career was much more developed.

      I took another job within that company about a year and a half later which turned out really well for a few years – great work, great people. However, the combination of that senior manager continuing to keep me from advancing and the loss of my accumulated sense of loyalty meant that when a truly good outside opportunity came up, I took it.

      In hindsight, I had become too complacent and I would highly recommend continuing to stay on top of career opportunities even if you are relatively safe and happy. Just knowing what your options are is a good thing generally, but more so in a layoff environment.

  3. Gerald of Rivia*

    If your boss tells you are getting laid off soon and will be walked out the same day you are notified of the layoff, don’t blindly believe what they say. There is a good chance your boss does not have all the facts.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I think this is a good attitude to take to the whole thing. Bosses may not be able to tell you things, they also may literally not know things, they may in fact end up laid off themselves. It’s probably best to take anything they tell you with a grain of salt and have at least a plan for the worst-case scenario (you are called into a last minute meeting and laid off immediately, same day, and perp-walked out directly after that meeting). What would you do if you knew in advance that was going to happen? Take a few things home from your desk now? Save a few files you would want to access later? Save up more money, put out some feelers ahead of time? Start the ball rolling on a side hustle? It’s okay if you want to do all or some of those things now. I don’t know if it’s only my type of psychology, but I actually feel *better* and less anxious having a plan for the worst in place. (If that’s not you, that’s okay too!).

      1. ICodeForFood*

        This reminded me of another thing: Exchange personal emails and info with the coworkers you want to stay in touch with. That might not be as essential in the age of social media as it used to be, but it still can’t hurt to make sure that you can all contact each other if one or more of you are laid off.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Good point, you saw this with twitter, folks trying to reconnect on the platform itself after being kicked off the company slack.

        2. Keyboard Cowboy*

          If the company is very large, you might find it useful to stand up an unofficial slack or discord for laid-off workers. My Tech Giant had such a one after our round earlier in the spring.

    2. Blue*

      There was an old letter exactly like this! The boss’s entire department quit for lower paying jobs to stave off being unemployed and without severance. But it turned out the boss was completely wrong and misunderstood what they saw.

      1. Rebadged*

        You may lose access to your work computer with little or no notice. My former employer restricted some people’s ability to send external emails or even print documents after they were told about the layoff. Consider gathering contact information for your coworkers, performance reviews or other documents you might want to refer to when writing your resume. If you’re using your work email for anything personal, change that now. That could include professional associations or mailing lists. If you can switch then to your personal email it will make networking easier.

        1. Corporate Goth*

          This. A thousand times this. I left an organization after 20 years recently and it took three weeks to get everything downloaded, emailed, and switched. And get records you don’t even think you’ll need, because your next job will ask for info you don’t expect. Better to have it and not need it.

          I see a lot of pushback against making oneself indispensable in this thread. Since I’m already here – sure, might not prevent a layoff…but if I were hiring and knew someone with a great reputation, that person is getting a new job faster.

  4. Traveling Nerd*

    I was recently laid off… I’ve been in the tech industry since ~2001 and am a tech executive.

    My best advice is that it is going to give you a big ego hit, as well as likely a bunch of anxiety about “can I get a job?” Don’t immediately jump in, because that anxiety and ego hit is going to show through your first few interviews if it’s too soon. If you have the savings, take a month off and just relax and unwind.

    Then, find a good friend and have them help you practice talking about your projects – and make sure they keep talking you up to get that attitude and confidence back up!

    In general, my other advice is ALWAYS assume layoffs can happen and live a boring life under your means. Save in boring investments (I like index mutual funds – low cost funds since they’re not actively managed, and they follow the stock/bond market) and put an emergency fund in a high yield savings account in a FDIC insured bank (search Nerdwallet for some options).

    1. Traveling Nerd*

      Oh and spruce up your LinkedIn! That’s where pretty much all recruiters look – put some information about projects you’ve worked on and mention the tech stack you use, so you’ll be ready for whenever you need to flip on that “looking for work” bit!

    2. Ginger*

      The WARN system is not foolproof.

      Most of the tech layoffs this year were conducted as laid off, but employed for x number of weeks (with computer access shut off) and then the WARN notice went out. Their official “layoff date” was later.

    3. Relentlessly Socratic*

      Here to say the best time to start living beneath your means was when you started earning money.

      The second best time is today. (A lesson I learned much later in life than I wanted to…)

        1. ICodeForFood*

          Yes! Living within your means is a good idea for everyone! It’s protective not only if you get laid off, but if you ever have a medical emergency or an unexpected expense… It’s just good advice in general, so you’re not one paycheck away from panic!

            1. Po boy*

              Ding ding ding!

              Some of this advice smacks of “just stop eating avocado toast and you’ll be able to own a home”

              But everyone should be as frugal as they can.

              1. Traveling Nerd*

                This advice is a “if you are able” kind of thing. I know that not everyone has the means to take a month off or has the means to save extra. I’ve actually been on government benefits before during a rough period in my early life (and it sucked!)

                But… if you are able, to use the avocado toast metaphor, the buying your own avocados and bread to make your own can mean saving $5-10 a day, which does slowly add up to an emergency fund.

            2. I have RBF*

              This. My pay has not gone up much since 2015, even as I have changed jobs, but my basic bills keep having 5% to 10% increases year over year. Garbage, up 10%. PG&E, up 5%, Water, up 80% due to drought. I make six figures, but I live in a high cost area, can’t afford to move, and essentially live paycheck to paycheck. I have never had “avocado toast”.

              1. Fishsticks*

                Yeah, that’s us. We keep making more money and somehow we can’t seem to keep it. And yes, I could cut some stuff down (and I’m working on it! I’m a “nickel and diming myself to soothe anxiety” person and am trying to cut down) but those small fun expenses definitely don’t explain just how much we’re barely treading water despite making more money than we ever have before.

                1. Reluctant Mezzo*

                  I know this may not work, but when I got a better job than the previous once, my check got put into a different account than my husband’s and became the Dead Water Heater Fund instead of being a absorbed into lifestyle.

                  But I know that’s not always possible (glancing at the water bill after being informed of a leak which of *course* is not on their side of the water meter, though I think I’ll let the plumber check that part, too).

                  Inflation really is erasing any margin people already had.

  5. I'm fabulous!*

    – Update your resume and LinkedIn profile to make sure their current with your job responsibilities and skillsets;
    – Put together a solid list of references;
    – See how many unused paid personal and vacay days you currently still have;
    – Look at your health insurance and if you need to still make any appointments, if your employer provides coverage;
    – If enrolled, know your account numbers for your employer’s 401K program. If you’re let go, roll it over into an IRA fund.

    1. Taketombo*

      Don’t do the last if you use your IRA’s to do backdoor Roth contributions. Do speak with your accountant to see what they recommend. (You can roll it into a 401k or equivalent plan at your next job)

    2. WFH FTW*

      These are really good suggestions!

      – Yes to dusting off resume and LinkedIn profile. Also, tell your friends and family what’s going on or might be going on. Ask them to keep an ear out. Re-connect with former & colleagues.

      – Yes to knowing how many vacation days and how much flexibility you have. Can you be transparent when you’re interviewing? Will your manager look the other way if you start having “dental” appointments when you’re interviewing? Or do you need to be closed-mouth about any time off you need during your search (while still employed there). It’s dependent on your work environment – if you don’t know, then I’d keep the details of why you need to step away.

      – Strong agree to start or wrap up any health treatments. If you’re in the US, annual physicals, vaccinations, and other preventive care is free. Get them all completed before your last day. You don’t know when you’ll be back in the workforce, so having those buttoned up will set your mind at ease.

      – The first week you’re out of work (heck, the first day!), go to your state’s website for unemployment insurance (again, only know for US). You need an online profile/account and may have to log in weekly to demonstrate you’re actively looking for work to collect UI benefits. For those weeks you just can’t follow through on applying to enough job openings (states usually have a minimum number of jobs you have to apply for), go to your state’s job center/get their staff to look over your resume/etc. These types of job resources offered by your state will count as part of your job-search.

      – The library is your friend. Depending where you are located, you’ll probably encounter other folks who have been laid off. For me, there was kind of a chin nod & recognition amongst unemployed in the same space (I liken it to motorcyclists having the hand motion when they pass each other). You’ll have access to computer and printer, not to mention books like Ask A Manager!

      – 401(k). If you don’t need the funds, leave there/leave it intact. Review the plan doc before your last day to see under what conditions you can take a distribution. There’ll be a tax penalty, but if you’re getting behind in rent or mortgage, this may be an option to tap for money.

      – Someone else said it above: get a part-time job. In early days, I recommend something simple. When I was laid off the second time, I took a PT job at a well-known stationery store. It give me a little bit of money coming in and I was out of the house with someplace to be on the regular (losing my job changed my family dynamic, so it was helpful to just Not.Be.Home.). And I didn’t make and complex or important decisions… “Gee, let me get my manager for you”. It was great!
      Working PT also extended my unemployment benefits, since I had a (small) income I was reporting, the state paid me less for those weeks. This meant I was paid longer than my state’s 6-month maximum, because yes, it took me every bit of 6+ months to land my next job.
      Getting laid off really threw me; I became much less risk-tolerant. I kept a PT job for 4 or 5 years after I got back into the workforce. I “had” to make sure we had multiple sources of income. I didn’t ever want to go back to rolling coins to pay for groceries and cashing out savings bonds.

      I’ve been laid off … twice? thrice?, worked at a company that got bought out where some of us were let go, and been through a company merge where ALL of us at one location were let go. The latter was way more palatable – we were all in it together. Management let us job-search during office hours and if you were heading out for an interview, everyone would smile and give you a thumbs up for luck!

      TLDR; you’ll get through this. Sending you all kinds of good vibes.

    3. Emily (she/hers)*

      A use your FSA funds if you have them! My husband lost like $800 in his FSA when he got laid off.

      1. Widget*

        And keep in mind that FSA money can be spent on more than just doctor’s appointments, if you’re all set there. Things like pads & tampons, prescription sunglasses, and home & car first aid kits are all eligible.

    4. wonderl@nd*

      Know your company’s PTO payout policy. Some companies will limit how much PTO they’ll pay out at term, but let you accumulate much, much more. We recently had layoffs, and I saw people lose almost 200 hours of PTO because company policy only allows for 80 to be paid out at term. Completely legal, but it still sucks when its you.

      1. Calpurrnia*

        I think this depends on where you are – it doesn’t sound remotely legal to me here in California where PTO is earned wages and must be fully paid out at your standard rate of pay. Yay, CA!

        But that’s all the more reason to make sure you know what payout to expect, both what’s legally-obligated for your state/country, AND what your specific company’s policy is. And relatedly, know your PTO balance and keep an eye on your accrual! Don’t let them short you by “adjusting” your balance retroactively, which I imagine many a shady company has attempted to do.

    5. ronda*

      you dont have to move the 401k right away (or ever for that matter if you have over them minimum account balance)

      It can wait until you feel like doing it. I wish I had waited on my last layoff, cause they put more money in it a year later and I had to pay the stupid transfer fee again (not a lot of money but just stupid for the few $100 dollars they added).

      lining up what you want to do for healthcare is more time critical… cobra or Obamacare are probably the best options.

  6. 2020layoffsurvivor*

    Keep up your momentum.

    It’s okay to wallow and feel a little bad for yourself for a couple of days! Being laid off is rough. Change, in general, is hard. Take some time to lick your wounds (money granting). Consider what you liked and disliked about your last job, and if you’re still on the right track for yourself and your goals. The good news is that sometimes a sudden change is great for allowing space for new perspectives.

    But make sure you get out there and start job hunting as soon as you’re able. It only gets harder the longer you put it off.

    1. Mockingjay*

      This. A layoff is a shock, even if you know it’s coming (in my experience, contract was ending and wouldn’t be renewed). Take a couple days to absorb it. Then start the job hunt.

      Look into your state’s unemployment requirements ahead of any layoff. Check the online info, call if you need to. Benefits don’t start right away because your application has to be processed. If you know what the application requirements are ahead of time, you can start collecting info and the actual application will go much faster.

      Add bookmarks to your browser for job search services. Look beyond LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster, etc. Are there industry-specific boards that offer job placement or industry listings? I used Indeed to find several good possibilities, but always applied through the company website or portal. Indeed postings aren’t always up to date; I found several that were closed when I checked the company site.

  7. Jenna*

    Hello- 2008 Grad who was laid off in 2009. Layoffs are rattling for everyone. I would advise a few things. Pre layoff get real on your finances, do what you can to save and build up a nest egg. Consult your state’s WARN system (companies by state need to report 60 days before upcoming layoffs. Understand what your unemployment benefits would be (and how long you could collect). All of these help empower you with knowledge.

    If you are laid off, remember you have skills, and the layoff is not about you (its about the bottom line). Do what you can to stay positive in your job search!

    1. Nikki*

      WARN does not require advanced warning in every situation. It only kicks in if the layoffs are considered “mass layoffs” (I think if more than 500 people or more than 33% of the company’s workforce are being laid off in the space of a month). Companies are also not required to give advanced warning even for mass layoffs if they provide at least 60 days severance and benefits to anyone affected which is what most companies have been doing anyways, so you won’t necessarily get advanced warning even in a mass layoff situation.

    2. Ginger*

      The WARN system is not foolproof.

      Most of the tech layoffs this year were conducted as laid off, but employed for x number of weeks (with computer access shut off) and then the WARN notice went out. Their official “layoff date” was later.

      1. Kyrielle*

        True, but you are at that point still getting money and benefits for that long, at least. You can be blindsided, but you won’t have your income drop to 0 at that moment.

        The bigger issue is whether the layoffs are “large enough” for WARN to apply. If not, you could be blindsided and have your income go to 0 at the same time. :/

    3. Somehow_I_Manage*

      I’m a 2009 grad. I find this question especially interesting, because you and I are on the opposite side of the “line” OP drew. I’ve noticed a huge difference in perspective on employment on either sides of this line. On the one hand, the younger staff have the right attitude and are right to assert themselves for the best possible working conditions. On the other, I can’t shake the memory of how thankful I was to find a job (and the lack of certainty that I’d be able to keep it) that nearly everyone experienced from 2009-12.

      1. Fishsticks*

        I suppose we’ve had the extra warning this go-round of the Fed Chairman telling everyone who would listen that he wanted to force a Recession and forcibly stop wages from rising. So that’s been nice as far as helping us prepare for the worst.

    4. can't google to save my life*

      Where exactly do you look for the company’s notice?
      I just did a google search for WARN california, and it returned a lot of details about the legislation, but not a listing of companies. Can someone help me find the list of companies?

      1. wonderl@nd*

        Typically, under WARN, affected employees will receive a notice from the employer, plus the company is basically putting the state on notice as well.

  8. pretty purple platypus*

    More on the administrative/operational side… retrieve any paperwork and personal effects out of your desk/office if you’re not remote, and pull any personal documentation off of your work computer – including any saved passwords to an ADP, for example, for tax purposes. Include any other administrative documents that you would wish you had access to after you no longer can access your work computer! It is definitely prudent to do this at the first whisper of a layoff (and even more prudent to have these documents already!), but many times access is pulled even before the layoff is announced.

    1. Quinalla*

      Yes, get all the stuff you will care about out of your physical office if you have one or at least get it down to a manageable box amount of stuff for your last day. Get anything off of your company intranet/paycheck/401k/etc. that you’ll need and yes passwords that you may have just saved to your company computer that you will need or anything you’ve saved to your work onedrive/cloud or computer. If you’ve been there any length of time, they’ll be some of amount of stuff that you were meaning to back up at home, etc. and haven’t done it yet.

      And from several above, start updating your resume at the very least. That way you can capture dates, job descriptions, etc. while you still have access to that information. If you don’t end up needing the resume, well it doesn’t hurt to have it updated for the future.

      I was very lucky to be in jobs that weren’t affected much by any of the big layoffs that have happened. Don’t forget that it is not personal if you get laid off, its a combination of luck and someone figuring out what makes the most sense $$ wise often having to make the best decision they can with limited information.

    2. Pilcow*

      In addition, get all your “employment stats.” When I was laid off and applied for unemployment the state asked for all sorts of details like starting salary, ending salary, start/end dates, physical addresses, phone numbers, web sites. I had worked there for 10+ years and barely remembered my exact start date and salary and both the local branch and corporate offices had changed locations.

      Also, make sure you have the number/emails of HR contacts. I moved shortly after getting laid off and needed payroll to send my W2 to the new address.

  9. Abyssal*

    If you’re not getting severance (or getting lousy severance) and you’ve got debts, call your creditors asap and let them know what’s going on and ask about how they can help. Pretty much any credit card or loan agency will be very happy to work with you, as they’d rather you keep making payments even with some kind of negotiated reduction.

    A lot of people feel really reluctant to do this, because our society has loaded up a lot of shame around not being able to pay your bills. But it is infinitely better for both your mental health and your credit score to be upfront about it and get these things handled. If need be, you can even write down a starting script before you pick up the phone, so you don’t have to find the words in the moment.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Even my mortgage had options during the covid epidemic! (that was covid-specific, but I have heard of other mortgage lenders offering a few things in non-covid eras that could help a borrower who had hit a dry spell, and it might be worth asking).

      1. Cat Tree*

        Yeah, *generally* banks would rather get you to pay your mortgage, even if delayed, than to foreclose on your house. At least that was true during previous recessions where they would be less likely to sell the property. With this housing market maybe foreclosure would work out better for the banks. But it’s at least worth asking.

        1. InsufficentlySubordinate*

          Foreclosing on a property is generally a pain in the you-know-what. Plus legal fees, plus if you file bankruptcy, etc. Usually your lender would Much Rather work with you and modify or something. Much less hassle and more money.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Plus, the offer my bank was offering wasn’t especially great; it was that you could defer your payments for a certain amount of time and then pay them back within a given period. It didn’t even cost them anything really, but it made a big difference to me in that moment.

    2. Mockingjay*

      My daughter did this during COVID. She was a preschool teacher and when schools were shut down, she had to figure out how to manage her car payment. She called the dealership and they had a program for teachers and first responders to defer a payment. That month gave her enough breathing room to concentrate on finding other work, which she did.

    3. Mid*

      Yes! You can sometimes get a month or two of zero payments, or reduced payments. If things get worse, debt consolidation programs are immensely helpful (make sure it’s through a non-profit! InCharge is one I’ve heard good things about, it’s not a loan, and helps you get lower interest rates and smaller payments, but you usually have to close the cards.)

      Also you can call to ask to lower your interest rates (I do it once a year, every year, for every credit card I have, even ones I don’t have a balance on.)

  10. rayray*

    I was laid off in March 2020, right before Covid lockdowns. I was in a unique situation because 1) I hated that job and 2) In addition to state unemployment, we got extra money from the federal government so financially, I was fine and my mental health improved drastically getting out from that job.

    I started at a mortgage company in July of that year when things were booming for the industry. Not even three years later, my company has had quite a few layoffs, my department has had three big rounds with one that just happened on Tuesday. It’s shocking when longtime employees are let go, or people you perceived as being such good workers. It’s awful seeing people pack up their desks. Morale has been really low the past few months. We even got our hours and pay reduced.

    Things I do to keep myself as prepared as possible:
    1- Keep your desk minimally decorated and just keep essentials. A few people have had to really take time to take down pictures, pack up personal items, etc. I keep things pretty minimal so I could be packed up in just a few minutes

    2- Never assume you or anyone else is safe. 2 of the people we lost this week to layoffs were longtime employees. I would NOT have expected them to go at all. I was shocked when I heard the news.

    3- Get your resume ready, if you have coworkers that you sincerely trust, you can also help each other with resumes. It can be very beneficial to have someone who knows you and the work you did review your resume.

    I can honestly say, layoffs suck. Especially when it happens to you. There’s a lot of emotions and thoughts when you’re pulled into an office and have the door shut behind you, just to be told you no longer have a job. If you’re expecting layoffs, you can at least get things in order and start applying for other things but it’s a tough market out there especially trying to find good paying jobs.

    1. rayray*

      Just another thought, unemployment is a weird thing to go through especially if it came unexpectedly. While you should be dedicating as much time as possible to job hunting, practicing interviewing, etc, this is also a good time to just take some time for yourself. You can wake up gently each morning without an alarm, you can slow down the pace a little bit, make time for hobbies, whatever you want to do. I also highly advise giving yourself at least one day off each week to step away from the job applications and just give yourself a break.

  11. Decorative Rocks*

    Don’t personalize it–don’t compare it to getting dumped, as I heard someone interviewed on NPR do today. It (mostly*) wasn’t about you at all.

    If there are people at your work who you want to keep in touch with, make sure you are connected on LinkedIn. Also keep their contact info in a file (rolodex, your personal phone) somewhere, but realize realistically that maybe they also got laid off and their company contact info won’t be valid. If some relationships don’t continue past the layoff, don’t take that personally, either. Most of our work relationships are based on proximity.

    Update your resume/LinkedIn with details of your current projects now while you can still go back to your records to look up things you might have forgotten–and make it a practice to do this every year around review time, since you are summarizing your accomplishments around then anyway.

    Take the long view. Yeah, it stinks in the short term, income is sort of vital to live, but really, this will be a blip in your career. I guess it’s my age, since I was around for both the dot com bubble, the telecom bust, and the Great Recession, but I know a bunch of people who have been laid off (including myself), and they are all doing something else for pay now.

    *Sometimes they do pick the annoying and/or crusty people to let go. If there are two llama groomers and the company decides to only retain one, you bet they will retain the one who people have more positive experiences with.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Regarding who gets let go, this is why it’s so hard; sometimes it really is an impersonal department-wide type decision, or they want to cut out all middle management or all the most expensive senior employees or whatever, and other times there is a little wiggle room about retaining the highest performers and letting others go. You can kind of drive yourself nuts when it happens to you. My advice is just decide it was the former in your case and proceed that way.

      1. Venus*

        Some big layoffs are decided at a high level because they don’t want mid- and low-level managers to know what is happening especially when those managers could be part of the layoffs. In large companies with big layoffs it has always felt random.

        1. Decorative Rocks*

          In large companies with big layoffs it has always felt random.

          At the company I was laid off from, in the layoff that I was part of and all previous layoffs during my tenure, the casualties were basically one person from each of multiple groups. If you didn’t know the individuals, it might appear that which person was picked was random.

          When I was laid off, my company gave us a workshop on job hunting as part of our severance. Almost everyone showed up, so I knew who had been hit. It was obvious why they picked THAT test engineer, THAT product engineer, THAT process engineer, etc. (including me): the test guy was kind of difficult, the product guy had been having clashes with someone in management, the process guy was generally annoying. They also laid off everybody supporting this one area of new development, including engineers and the program manager, except for one guy who had moved from engineering to program management a couple months prior (for different programs, obv.). I didn’t know that one guy, but it’s a good bet that they retained him specifically bc he was some combination of easier to work with and smarter than the rest of the group.

          The remaining test guy gave notice the day of the layoffs, so the company was left with no test people. I continue to be amused by that.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Yes to all the contact info stuff – both fellow at-risk-for-layoff coworkers and others in the company. If there’s an HR/payroll people you know is particularly good at their job, record their info in case you need it post-layoff. People you might use as references, etc.

      And don’t forget to record this info for external people too. Suppliers, partner organizations, distributors, outsourcers – these can all be the source of good leads for work, if not opportunities directly.

    3. ThatGirl*

      I’ve now been laid off twice in ~5 years, turns out creative marketing departments are nearly as prone to layoffs as tech. But I’ve also found new jobs fairly quickly both times.

      It’s not personal, but it does suck. I’m currently feeling fairly stable in my position, but there were layoffs in December and March here, so who even knows?!

      My methodology is basically to always be more or less prepared to job search. I review my resume every few months to make sure big wins are on it. I keep my portfolio up to date. I review my LinkedIn profile a couple times a year. And in my personal life I’ve been lucky to be able to build up a solid savings account, so if I did get laid off, we’d be financially secure for at least 6 months.

      And in the long term – people understand layoffs. They understand marketing departments are often prone to them. They understand corporate mergers, sales, etc can lead to them. It’s not a black mark on me.

    4. Emily (she/hers)*

      It’s interesting to see the different perspectives people bring based on age, industry and experience. When my husband was laid off, I was devastated. Layoffs are very, very rare in my industry, and in the industries my parents were in. But he was pretty nonchalant, all things considered. He’s been through several boom and bust periods, and it wasn’t his first time being laid off.

      Somewhat related: My job involves interviewing people about their lives. It’s been so helpful to see all the different winding paths that people take, sometimes by choice and sometimes not.

    5. ICodeForFood*

      Well, if there are 2 llama groomers, they might retain whichever one costs less (lower salary, less PTO, etc.). I’ve seen it where an outside company comes in to determine who to lay off based on financials alone, regardless of the comparative work abilities of people. Which, to me, makes NO sense, but hey, no one ever asked me.
      Just try not to take it personally, because it’s very rarely about the person/people who are laid off.

  12. Bessa*

    I think the smartest thing you can do is to assume that you *will* be laid off and take steps accordingly. So, update your resume, start scanning job boards, put out feelers in your network, and just generally be prepared. Don’t take any permanent steps, but just have everything prepped and in place, should the worst happen.

    (Others may feel differently, but for me, having a sense of what my options are and having some groundwork in place helps me feel a little more in control when literally everything else if out of my control – and that’s really helpful for me, mentally.)

    1. Chairman of the Bored*

      This is good advice.

      If nothing else, I’d suggest everybody do a milder version of this and come up with a plan for how they should respond if they were laid off this afternoon.

      For example, spend a few hours and figure out what you’d do within a day, within a week, and within a month. Write those steps down and save them somewhere, so that if you ever do get laid off you have at least the outline of a plan vs trying to come up with one in the moment when you’re stressed and sad/angry/etc.

    2. Venus*

      This is also good advice because it is often miserable if all your coworkers are laid off and you are the ‘safe’ one left. I had friends who suddenly found that they were having to work many extra hours for no extra pay in a workplace with very low morale. They initially thought that they were lucky to survive the cuts but their coworkers got severance packages and better jobs. The laid off coworkers definitely had struggles, so I’m not suggesting that it is better to be laid off, but those who stayed also struggled. It’s better for everyone if more people can find a job at the rumor stage and leave for something better before cuts are made.

    3. mreasy*

      Honestly, whenever I have sensed that layoffs were on the horizon, I have just straight up found a new job. My just past company ended up screwing everyone on severance the last RIF, and I was incredibly thankful that I had given my notice for a new role the week prior. I was obviously very lucky to find something, but man once layoffs start at a company I just try to get out.

      1. Bah humbug*

        Yes, this. Looking back at my own layoff history – the ones i survived and the ones i didn’t – I’m not sure who was luckiest. Was it the ones who were let go or the ones who were kept on? Being let go was horrific, but being kept on was also awful, working twice as hard alongside really unhappy colleagues, with zero job security or pay progression.

        Being kept on has often been far worse for my mental health in the long run than being let go. This is not intended to minimize the suffering anyone is going through. Just, it can be awful either way, so if you can avoid it altogether that’s wonderful. I tried, last year, but couldn’t get anything before our redundancies hit :-(

  13. Been there before*

    It’s a stressful time for so many regardless of age. Those 35 and under have a better chance at being rehired than those of us 50 or 60 or older, no matter how long you’ve been in the workplace or how many jobs you’ve had, what your financial situation is, and what your personal responsibilities are.

    Start looking, keep your options open, and don’t take it personally.

  14. World Weary*

    Start cutting back on your spending as much as you can stand now. Conversely, keep something just for you. During my last layoff, I kept my cleaning service, for example. I’ve been laid off three times in my career and I have never recovered financially. I took a 10% pay cut each time, and with inflation, I don’t believe that I will ever have the lifestyle that I had before my first layoff in 2006. That said, I have a comfortable life and am mostly happy because I’ve leaned to separate what I do from who I am.

  15. I should really pick a name*

    Keep your resume up to date.

    Start searching now. You can always turn down interviews
    Cut back on spending.

    Learn what you’re entitled to for severance NOW so if it happens, you’ll have a sense of it it’s reasonable or not.

    If you DO get laid off, don’t spend all your time on your job search. You’ll burn out. Take advantage of the ability to do things during the day.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      Learn how employment insurance works. Make sure you know what documents you need, and if you’re laid off, make sure you get them and they say the right thing (reason for termination most notably).

      1. Mid*

        Also start applying for unemployment before you need it—as early as you can! First, it’s something you’re entitled to, something your taxes pay into, so there’s no shame in collecting unemployment! That’s why it exists!

        And second, it can take a *very* long time to actually get your unemployment payments, depending on where you live. Most states claim you’ll get your first payment 2-3 weeks after your claim is processed. But many places have a backlog to get claims processed, so it can be months. My state says it’s 4-6 weeks to process a claim, and 2-4 weeks to get your first payment once it’s approved. Assuming you’re approved on the first go, that can be 2.5 months to get your first payment. If you wait to apply for unemployment until things are getting dire, you can end up in bind.

        1. ICodeForFood*

          How can one apply for unemployment before being laid off? I never knew this was even a possibility…

          1. Can't Sit Still*

            Unemployment usually isn’t retroactive, as benefits typically only pay out after your application date. If you wait a month or two after you were laid off to apply, you can lose those benefits completely (this is in California, but may differ in other states.) I had a friend who thought she’d be smart and “save” her unemployment by waiting until her severance ran out to apply. She ended up only eligible for 2-3 weeks of benefits.

            Also, being officially on unemployment, rather than “just” unemployed, may make you eligible for a variety of other programs your prior income would make you ineligible for, like reduced electric bills, food banks, etc. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of these programs if/when you are eligible.

            With the help of the EDD, one colleague was actually able to finish her degree while on unemployment and another was able to complete a certificate program that resulted in a better job afterwards. In both cases, their unemployment checks were extended beyond the normal eligibility dates.

            Tl;dr: being unemployed can be a full-time job, but it can be worth it in the long run to spend some time exploring what’s available to you and not just searching for and apply for jobs.

          2. I should really pick a name*

            I believe by “before you need it”, Mid means “before you need the money”. So after being laid off, but before desperation.

  16. glitter writer*

    I am in a highly unstable industry and three of my last six jobs have ended with layoffs or full company shutdowns. Happily, I’ve never gone more than 16 weeks after one without finding my next role.

    1.) Keep your resume up to date monthly or quarterly with your accomplishments. It’ll help you even if you don’t get laid off, because the big things will be top-of-mind or at least easy to look up for annual reviews, too.

    2.) There’s only so much you, personally, can do to keep your role if your company is Going Through Some Stuff. There will occasionally be times where some out of a group can stay, but it’s usually going to have more to do with your salary, your boss, and the head of your division than it is going to be down to what you, individually, do or don’t add. Obviously it won’t hurt to be indispensable, but even if you are, the axe may fall.

    3.) Don’t neglect your personal and professional networks. They can get you through a lot –even if they’ve all been laid off too. (The past year has been an absolute bloodbath in my industry. Even more than usual.)

    4.) Keep half an eye on Indeed, LinkedIn, etc even when times are good. It will give you an idea of the kinds of things that are out there as a baseline, so you won’t have to go into a RIGHT NOW job search completely unprepared. (Also, interviewing for jobs you end up not taking is still great networking! With my last layoff, two different hiring managers who considered me a top candidate in the past, but who hadn’t hired me at that time, reached out to interview me for new roles when they heard.)

    5.) If you do get laid off, you’re going to have feelings about it. Big feelings! Big, lousy feelings! Job loss is a grieving process. (Even if you didn’t like or want the job, but especially if you *did* love the job.) It’s okay to be all in your feelings about it. DO NOT send any resumes or cover letters in the first 24-48 hours; take a little time to breathe and your applications will be better for it.

    1. Reba*

      Re: network, even if you don’t get your next job or whatever through connections, the solidarity and emotional support from others who are going through it can be so important.

      My SO is in a couple slack groups of former coworkers that started as layoff support and commiseration groups, but have continued to be friendly and info-sharing groups over several years.

      Don’t feel awkward about saying “hey, I would like to stay in touch with you”!

      1. glitter writer*

        Yup. I still have a running group chat with my former team from a company that shut down in 2017! We aren’t super active these days, but it’s still nice to stay in touch and we have definitely helped each other out with job listings and such.

    2. ronda*

      5). the feelings! We all knew layoffs were coming, but I did have a wash of feeling come over me when I got the call to come in for my layoff meeting.

      I had been at that company for a long time.

      the next layoff for me was at a company I was at for about 2 months…. and I didnt really feel anything at that one. Just a little rushed cause they wanted to walk me out of the building immediately. It’s a little hard for me to gather all my stuff with the hr person watching me. I guess I had not built much attachment to that place yet.

      I did feel kind of nervous for a couple of months after my last day of work probably cause I didnt have a schedule to follow anymore. but I am retired now and over that feeling.

  17. Relentlessly Socratic*

    I was there when the dot com bubble burst back at the turn of the century. My background was academic science, but I had left to work at a large, still existing tech news company. Our entire department was laid off in one afternoon.

    1. It was amazingly hard at the time, because all sorts of things were imploding. I survived the next year by scraping together support from unemployment, picking up a couple of classes to teach, and some help from my mom. It was a rough year, I’m not gonna lie. But..

    2. A lot of us who were laid off took that time to re-evaulate what we wanted to be doing. I went back to science, and then left research again to become a consultant which is what I do now. Others went into things like animal rescue, and others went to parallel positions in smaller mission-focused orgs.

    I’ve survived rounds of layoff since then, and it still sucks no matter which side of the layoffs you’re on.

    If I had advice it would be to 1. Take some time to look at your options both inside and outside of your current field 2. Don’t internalize a layoff as a failure of your abilities or worth. 3. If you can do some part-time gigs, even if they aren’t very lucrative, they can serve as launching points (or help you decide that it’s a path you don’t want). Similarly, if you have the kind of skills where you can freelance, do it!

    Also: Now is the time to look at your finances and identify any places you can cost save, if you haven’t already. Start putting money aside now, if you have the ability to do so.

  18. ComradeDab*

    I recently experienced my first major round of layoffs – I was not impacted, fortunately. We heard rumors starting around September of last year and didn’t get any official word until the end of October. The actual list of impacted people wasn’t settled until Mid-December. This was an incredibly stressful period which took a toll on my physical and mental health and decreased my productivity by >30%.

    Looking back, here are the three things tips I have for dealing with looming layoffs:
    1. Be proactive about reviewing your budget and looking around at jobs that you could switch to. Even if you don’t immediately take action (by applying or cutting spending), examining your options will soothe a great deal of the fear.

    2. Avoid discussing with coworkers beyond the initial “oh my god did you hear?” conversation. None of you know anything, and speculation breeds fear.

    3. Try to stay busy – don’t work extra, but don’t let yourself stagnate and delay. I found myself putting projects off longer and longer, thinking “why start this if I am going to get laid off”. Well, I didn’t get laid off and I had a LOT to do when I finally got back on my feet.

    Good luck everyone!

  19. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

    If you’re concerned about layoffs, take some time to write your resume now. Heck, take a vacation day, especially if you risk losing it. Power through and get it complete and have it ready.
    Set up some automated job search tools to send leads to a personal email (maybe a job search specific one).
    Get into the habit of applying to them even if you’re not sure you want it. You can always turn down an interview or even an offer if you get that far, but the practice of revising your resume to specific roles will continue to refine and deepen the flavors in there. (My hint is to write the resume to foreshadow the stories you’ll tell in the interview. So work on your interview answers too.)
    Get your muscle memory going on applying. That way if you do get laid off, or if others at your company are laid off and the pressures make that job too unbearable, things will be a lot easier while you do the hard emotional work of dealing with the change.

    The key thing here is that if you wait until later to start applying (“I want my resume to be perfect” or “I’m getting severance so I’m taking a little vacation.”) then you might end up missing out on opportunities that happened during that pause. If you feel like not working too hard on your “pause-time” resumes, that’s fine. At least you’re getting them out there.

    Also — get your LinkedIn profile shined up. Employers might go there to fill in their understanding of who you are after they see your resume, so make it at least as complete as your resume. And extra stuff that you add could help do some heavy lifting if you slacked a little on a resume.

    1. Klen*

      Seconding the point about jumping in right away — yes, you need to take time to grieve, but I was laid off with my entire team in September, ahead of most of the BIG tech layoffs of the last seven months. I jumped in right away and had job offers inside of a month. A few of my former teammates planned to take a little time to regroup, and by the time they were ready to start looking, they were competing with rafts of Twitter, Facebook, and Google employees. They’re all fine, pretty much, but I know their search was more arduous than mine was, and it’s not because they’re less talented, they definitely were not!

  20. urguncle*

    I don’t have much, I’m currently in the “under 35 who only saw the 2008 crisis unfolding their junior year of college” category, but I’m curious as to what people think about changing jobs during lay-off times.
    Essentially, I am well-established in my small-to-midsized tech company that does Teacup Handling. I’ve been here over 3 years, I’ve been promoted twice and moved departments, and I’m a Teacup Manager. I have a ton of visibility across the company and I know I’m well-liked. However. We’re on shaky financial ground right now. We did a small layoff at the beginning of the year and I know sales aren’t what they should be right now.
    I’ve been asked to apply for a job at a larger tech company that does Teacup Distribution, but is branching out into Teacup Handling. This would be a step up in pay and title. Love the pay, nervous about the title.
    Both seem to be risky right now. To make matters worse, we’re expecting our first baby in Q4 2023 (technically October). Both have fully-paid maternity leave for 12 weeks. What’s the safest bet?

      1. urguncle*

        I’m not sure; it’s something that I will ask in the interview process and will be a dealbreaker. I’ve seen industry standard move towards not having the year of employment, but it’s a consideration, especially since I’d be working 3-5 months, then leaving for 3 months.

    1. glitter writer*

      Oh, the baby really puts a wrinkle in it. (Congratulations!)

      I think you have nothing to lose from applying to the larger company and talking to them about the role. Choosing to take it or not is a different decision, but the networking you do now — even if you decide not to make a move, or if they decide to go with another candidate — could be incredibly valuable if layoffs do hit your current job.

      1. urguncle*

        I know! And thank you! It’s frustrating since we spent almost 3 years getting here and at *literally any point in the past 3 years* I would have felt more secure taking three months off.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Address the family leave issue when negotiating. See if you can make sure that you will receive it or some reasonable facsimile thereof before your accept the fancy new position that will feel scary but you’re ready for so don’t imposter yourself out of something great.

    3. Constance*

      Your safest bet is to apply.
      Just applying doesn’t mean you’re going to be given the role. But applying does mean you potentially get to have more conversations about the role. And if you are offered the role, you can decide with more information based on what goes on at the company where you currently work, and what you learn about the company where you’re applying.
      While there is nothing that will guarantee that you make the right decision in life, ever, the safest choice is always going to be to have more options.

    4. startup baby*

      Just want to empathize, we’re also expecting our first baby this year (Q3) and just today my company had its first (and they say last, but you never know) round of layoffs since I was hired several years ago. It’s so nerve wracking going into this huge life upheaval when all around us the economy is also looking shaky. A big firm can seem more secure, but I’d be nervous about being the new hire if they did decide to cut costs. But if your current job is already showing signs of distress, standing on a sinking ship is no good either!
      I would at least interview with the big company – doesn’t hurt to see how that group feels and if nothing else, get some interview practice in.

  21. Cyborg Llama Horde*

    I’m a mid-millenial and have been through five rounds of layoffs in my career. First, I will say that layoffs are stressful and awful, whether you get laid off or not, and there’s only so much you can do about that.

    In terms of impact on my career, I would say that the layoffs have in some ways impacted me more negatively when I WASN’T laid off than when I was — I’ve had enough financial stability when I was laid off that I could weather a few months out of work, and I wound up getting a better job overall. But when you’re one of the people who’s left behind after a layoff, you’re likely on a demoralized and understaffed team, and it can take years to crawl back out of that hole. I’ve been stuck doing junior-level work for years after I had a senior-level title, because while the senior-level work was important, the junior-level work was urgent, and we didn’t have enough junior-level people left to do it all. (It should also be noted that most recently I got promoted, so it wasn’t all bad — but I now make more money and also have more responsibility for said demoralized and understaffed team.)

    Personally, I’d say the layoffs have made me less loyal to companies in general, and more willing to look out for myself, and honestly, that’s probably a good thing.

    It’s important to remember that who does/doesn’t get laid off isn’t a statement on your or anyone’s value as a person, or even necessarily as a worker. It can be about reaching a certain % of salary cuts, or about who they think it more likely to leave, or that the manager likes Jane a fraction better than Julie.

    If you think layoffs might be coming, I recommend making sure you have non-work contact info for anyone who you want to stay in touch with. In this day and age of email layoffs, people just disappear, and if someone isn’t on LinkedIn or you can’t find them there, you may never talk to them again, especially if you don’t live in the same city. Similarly, make sure that any personal info you need is off your computer, and that you haven’t left anything there that you would be upset if a coworker saw. That’s good practice generally, but especially important in an uncertain climate.

    Lastly, if layoffs happen — be kind to yourself. You probably won’t be productive right after the layoff, and that’s okay. That’s what happens with layoffs. They feel bad, and you don’t feel like working afterwards. Conversely, if your reaction is to find something concrete to do and throw yourself into it, that’s okay too — but your coworkers may not respond the same way. Be prepared to give grace to everybody (and a LOT of grace will be needed, because everyone will suddenly be working around people who aren’t there anymore).

    1. Pebbles Bishop*

      I absolutely agree with this. I’ve somehow survived four rounds of layoffs at my current real estate company – the last being in January – and the intense imposter syndrome and survivor’s guilt I’ve been hit with in the last few months absolutely caught me off guard.

      To repeat what Cyborg said, be kind to yourself, no matter what happens. If you get laid off, the great advice above and in the comments is invaluable. If you don’t, give yourself some grace. Focus on doing the work you have to do as best you can and don’t expect things to get back to business as usual right away. And though I know EXACTLY how difficult it is to not compare yourself to the people who did get laid off, focusing on that makes everything that much harder.

    2. I don’t post often*

      I work at a large financial institution that typically reorganizes itself every three to five years.
      I once heard a manager say that it takes those left behind 90 days to adjust and continue to work.

  22. Brain the Brian*

    If you haven’t already, begin preparing as though you *will* be laid off: have a plan to ensure you have enough cash to cover bills (that could be saving, borrowing from your retirement accounts, or something else), update your resume, loosely see what interesting positions are available elsewhere, etc. That will help ease the immediate anxiety when you are laid off so that you can focus on job searching with enough sleep. I’ve had family members lose night after night of sleep right after a layoff for no reason; they found new jobs almost instantly, but they were stressed about the process because they hadn’t prepared.

  23. Lacey*

    Unemployment takes a minute to get going, so apply for it IMMEDIATELY.

    Update your resume & portfolio (if applicable), run it by people you trust for edits.

    I know getting another job feels (& probably is) urgent, but losing your job is emotionally draining, no matter why it happened so give yourself at least a few days to recover. I thought I would take one day. I took a week.

    1. mli25*

      File for unemployment the day you are no longer employed (assuming you haven’t managed to line up another job). It can be a multiple step process (I had to wait for my PIN to be mailed to me). Each state (and assume country) is a bit different, so get started ASAP, so you can file (and get the money) sooner.

      1. Lacey*

        Yes, I realize I kinda said two different things here.

        File for unemployment – then take a break. It can be long and confusing and the government movies slowly, so it’s important to get that moving.

    2. Peon*

      I also took a week on the couch when I got laid off in 2006. I’d seen it coming because we could see the company was making stupid decisions, so I had resumes and applications out everywhere, but even when you see the train about to hit you it still hurts!

  24. CatDragon*

    – If you can temporarily afford to beef up your savings account, funnel as much extra cash into it as you can. It’s a huge relief knowing you can cover your mortgage and food for a few weeks/months without extreme panic setting in.
    – Realistically ask yourself, when do you need a temp job to cover living expenses?
    – Get your portfolio, resume and LinkedIn, whatever, spruced up and ready to go
    – Make sure you have everything important forwarded from your work accounts. Contact information of important people, logins for self-serve payroll/taxes/eap/healthcare, performance reports, etc.
    – Have your next steps plan ready to initiate. If I were to start job hunting (ie, submitting job applications) tomorrow, what position would I want? What industry? Where? Remote or in person? What’s my salary range? What are my benefit minimums? Core responsibilities? After getting laid off, it can feel like you’re unmoored and you can waste weeks thinking about your “dream possibilities”. If you know your next career step, you can shave weeks off the game.

  25. clodia_risa*

    I can only speak to the perspective of a high schooler when layoffs were threatened and then when my dad did get laid off.

    Don’t lie to your kids about the potential layoffs. Consider the age of the kid, of course, in what you tell them. But my parents told me that we were safe and Dad’s job was safe. It wasn’t.

    I was shocked by the loss, I had no idea how to cope, I didn’t know what it meant for our house (selling it), for our pet (having to give it away), for our lives. I was old enough that I should have had some actual conversation preparing me for what could change if layoffs happen. Not to scare me, but to make sure I knew that my parents had planned for it.

  26. Brad Deltan*

    There’s really only three ways, maybe four, to “prepare” for as-yet-unannounced layoffs:

    1. Have six months’ worth of expenses stored in savings. Something pretty liquid…money markets or just a savings account. This is very difficult to achieve in the modern era but it makes a huge difference. You don’t necessarily have to have no debt here, but it helps. Or at least try to avoid “bad debt” that is high-interest like credit cards.

    2. Have a hobby or extensive social network outside of your industry (not just your specific job). This will help combat the blow to your personal ego that layoffs always are.

    3. Have an existing side hustle you can ramp up; some kind of consulting/contracting gig. This is, of course, a lot easier to say than it is to do.

    4. Pre-emptive strike! Get out before they can lay you off. This is why just keeping your head down and focusing on the work is always a bad idea. You need to keep an ear to the ground and follow the office politics so you can get a better sense of impending layoffs and be proactive about finding a new job instead of being reactive after you’re already laid off. The best thing you can have to find a new job is to already be working at an existing job…even if you’re pretty sure you’re gonna be laid off in a few months at most.

    Finally: it’s very, VERY rare that you personally can do a damned thing to avoid being laid off. Almost always the reasons why you were laid off, had nothing (or almost nothing) to do with anything you can control. So don’t bother too much trying to be “indispensable”; nobody is indispensable.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      > 4. Pre-emptive strike! Get out before they can lay you off.

      I agree that that is an important one – I’ve moved on from a number of jobs that I felt weren’t “safe” before any announcement being made. It also makes for a more compelling narrative in future interviews etc: “I anticipated the problem and took action” vs “I sat around and waited to see what would happen to me”.

    2. Peon*

      Yes! I had a job interview on a Monday, got caught up in a large company lay off on the Wednesday. I got 6 weeks of severance, one week of unemployment, and then started at the new job (they had a slow hiring process).

    3. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      #4 This +++++++++

      I always was advised by my Dad = Rats that jump off of a sinking ship and find higher ground will survive. Those that stay with the ship until it goes down may drown.

      It’s best (in most cases) to transition to a new position as soon as you can; severance/package be damned.

  27. Mr. Cajun2core*

    I was laid off during the great recession from the tech industry. Don’t believe that just because you have been there a while that you will not be one of the first people laid off. I had been there more than about 1/2 of the company so I thought that seniority would at least give me some warning. I was wrong. I was one of the first people laid-off.

    I went from making over $70,000 to $18,000 in unemployment. Be prepared for that. Pay off credit cards and other debt that you currently have. Do not make any major purchases.

    Make sure your skill set is diversified and up to date. I specialized in one area (specific OS) and I was laid off while other people who knew 2 or more OSes kept their jobs even though they had been there a much shorter time than me.

    Keep your skills up to date. I specialized in a legacy OS (it was my company’s signature product so I thought I was safe). Since very few people used this OS anymore, I had to change careers. I am nowhere near what I was making in the tech industry over 12 years later.

    1. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

      Disagree that you should pay off debt. It depends.
      Paying off credit cards and other high interest debt is possibly good. Especially if you normally pay them off every month and avoid interest. Adding the expense of high interest to your situation isn’t going to help. Instead, tighten your belt.
      Paying off student loans, mortgage, etc is probably not a good idea in the short term / when layoffs are imminent. Better to keep the savings on hand to pay living expenses. Paying down (but not off) your mortgage won’t help at all because it won’t lower your monthly expenses.

      1. Mr. Cajun2core*

        Good point. I was thinking mostly of credit card and other high interest debt but you are right that such things as mortgage and other lower-interest debt may not be worth paying off.

      2. Peon*

        Agreed on the school loans especially. I’d investigate deferment and the process for getting that going if you DO have school loans and face a layoff. Best to know what’s possible, even if you don’t end up doing it.

  28. Diziet*

    I have been made redundant/put at risk of redundancy many times in a 20 year career.

    I am really sorry to see it happening across industries as it is a truly anxiety provoking and hard thing to go through.

    I am currently making some of my own staff redundant due to funding cuts.

    My advice from both sides of this horrible process is (1) keep your eyes on the prize/what a best outcome might be for you, professional behaviour during redundancy is rare, and is often rewarded. (2) remind yourself it isn’t about you, your performance of your worth (easy to say/hard to do) (3) talk to colleagues you trust, blow off steam about management decisions but try not to get stuck in the distress.

    I have been left with little faith in my industry tbh but the unsettled feeling of overwhelming uncertainty that being put at risk of redundancy leaves you with, will fade.

    Practically speaking I now have a redundancy ‘pot’ in a savings account and a ‘back up’ public sector professional qualification should my industry totally tank and I need to pay the bills through a more stable sector.

    I am UK based and a nonprofit leader so my advice may not translate to your sector- discard what doesn’t suit!!

    The very best of luck and strength to you as you navigate this.

  29. knitandpurl*

    Make sure to backup any person info from your computer, and send yourself anything you will want to have access to after the fact. In case you are immediately escorted from the building, slowly begin removing personal items from your desk (photos, a favorite mug, etc)

    1. Trust no one*

      That last sentence is what I was coming to stress. You might not be allowed to collect your things on your way out, and you risk getting them back damaged, or never getting them back at all. I’ve never particularly worried about layoffs (I have side gigs), but I don’t trust other people not to steal my stuff, given how often things go missing here. So literally everything I bring to work with me at the start of each day goes home with me at the end of each day. Nothing of mine is ever left at work. (If I ever wanted a picture or something in my space, I’d print out a cheap but nice-looking copy that I don’t mind losing because it’s just a sheet of paper that isn’t the original.)

      I also keep all my things together so I only have to open one drawer and scoop my two small bags and jacket out in one go at the end of the day. Security would have to physically fight me to stop me from grabbing my messenger bag with all my personal info out of the desk, and this makes it easier to swoop in and get it all in an instant. ;)

  30. Chairman of the Bored*

    If you are in an industry that is experiencing lots of widespread layoffs this immediately creates the problem of many people who have a similar background all looking for increasingly scarce positions within that same industry.

    I recommend looking more broadly and seeing whether your skills might be a good fit in other industries that are doing better. Go where your competition isn’t.

    Example: I am an engineering manager in the medical research equipment industry, and have many colleagues who were previously engineers or project managers in notoriously boom-and-bust industries like automotive. When they applied to work for us we didn’t care that they had previously worked on designing cars, we were happy to hire them because they’re smart professionals with years of experience solving complex problems. They have to learn some new terminology and concepts, but after a few months on the job they get caught up to what we do and the other 98% of their knowledge transfers right over.

    Don’t fall into thinking “I previously worked in X and therefore must find another job in X”.

    1. irene adler*

      Yes! Go outside the box!
      To that end, seek professional organizations pertaining to your skill set (not just industry) to find networking contacts.

  31. datamuse*

    I was an early Amazon employee and was laid off in a smaller first wave that preceded the larger layoffs of 2000-2001. Not gonna lie, it sucked. I was in my early 20s, had never been through something like that before, and because it was a smaller layoff no one else in my office was affected. It was hard not to see it as a statement on how my work was, even though being laid off isn’t the same as being fired.

    It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the job market, and I work in academia now which is its own peculiar beast, so I don’t have a lot of advice there. What I will say is: though it may not feel like it, if at all possible give yourself some space to pause and breathe. Depending on your personal situation it may be urgent to find other work right away, but especially if you’re feeling really thrown off kilter by the whole experience, it can be helpful to give yourself some room to process a little.

    If you know a layoff is coming and that you might be affected, that gives you some advantage. I was totally shocked when it happened to me (in retrospect I shouldn’t have been, but that was specific to my situation and lack of experience). Don’t assume it’ll happen, but it’s worth taking some time to think about what you’ll do if it does. What are your finances like–how long do you have before you *have* to find a job? What are the resources for unemployment compensation in your state, and how do you access them? What does your company offer for COBRA (continuation of health insurance) and is it a better deal to do that, or to buy a marketplace plan? (Losing your job qualifies you to do so outside of the open enrollment period.) If figuring that out is too stressful, it’s fine to take COBRA and wait until open enrollment or until you find another job.

    LinkedIn didn’t exist when I got laid off, but if I were facing that possibility now I’d brush up my profile and explore what’s available there and on other professional networking sites. Also think about your personal professional networks, i.e. the people you know. If they’re all facing layoffs too they might not be in a position to help you directly, but you can at least commiserate–and maybe share resources, tips, and connections with one another. (I wound up changing career paths after getting laid off, but even then your friends, acquaintances, and former co-workers can be more helpful than you might think.)

    Losing your job is rough, but chances are, you’re going to be ok. Remind yourself of that as you need to.

    1. mli25*

      I will definitely second the COBRA comment. I was laid off in June 2021 (with 2 months notice) and received a severance package that included 6 months pay and 6 months of medical insurance at the rate I paid as an employee. That took us (husband and I) til the end of 2021. We were anticipating an end of year surgery and didn’t want to start the deductible all over again by switching to his company’s insurance plan. I was actually able to pay for multiple months of COBRA at once, so I was able to use money I already had to pay for it.

      I was also let go in Aug 2015 and we used COBRA til the end of the year because it was more cost effective than switching insurance plans (I had surgery while unemployed and it was a fraction of the cost, due to already meeting the deductible).

      1. shruggie*

        Thirded! It wasn’t cheap at all, but it was easier and better coverage than open marketplace (for me; obviously do your own research and take your own health and circumstances into account). As a note though, I wasn’t covered until my application was approved, which took multiple weeks. They had to physically mail me a packet, I had to fill it in and mail it back, and then there was a two-week processing period. Those details may vary depending on provider, I don’t know. But if you have important health care that you need to disrupt as minimally as possible, I’d make applying to COBRA a very top priority.

        I hate that I have to say this, but you might also prepare for ways you might tide yourself over for a few weeks if you’re in a pinch. I had a stash of my expensive medication built up over years that came in clutch, for example. *shakes fist uselessly but passionately at the American healthcare system*

  32. skaffen-a*

    start with remembering that you owe your employer as much loyalty as your employer is ready to extend to you. which is to say, none at all.

  33. Government employee*

    Be open to trying new fields. I work in local government and we are hiring in multiple areas.
    My local transit agency is enthusiastically hiring (and they will train you).

    Good luck. Layoffs are hard on everyone. It feels personal, even though it isn’t.

  34. Lily Potter*

    There are a ton of practical things involving health care that I’ll comment on later if no one beats me to it, but here’s a little thing: think about what you use your work email for and start making changes. Many people use their work email for things like professional organizations, LinkedIn, industry newsletters, etc. Change all of that stuff NOW to a personal email. It’s a good practice anyway, even if you’re not laid off.

    Also, of you’re using your work computer for ANYTHING personal, get those documents off the work server immediately! I have a friend who was laid off from a blue-chip company after working there for 25 years – she didn’t even OWN a personal computer. Her whole life was on that company laptop. Luckily, her layoff was not unexpected and she had time to figure things out before it happened. Don’t be her!

  35. Polar Vortex*

    Speaking as someone who dealt with the worst case scenario of the Great Recession – graduated before it started, ended up jobless living in my parents house in the middle of nowhere eventually getting a minimum wage job after a year of applying anywhere and everywhere (including minimum wage jobs!!):

    Given I barely had my feet wet in the workforce before things went to hell in a handbasket, I don’t have much in terms of preparation. But I do know how it has impacted me long term.

    I learned I am more likely to trust companies where I can be secure in my job vs ones that will pay a lot more but are riskier. My current work didn’t lay off a darn person in the pandemic, they shuffled some employees to other teams to cover because their positions couldn’t be done during the lockdown. That is why I still work here even if I could’ve jump ship when hiring went crazy post pandemic. That safety is too darn important to me to lose. Particularly because the Great Recession and the Pandemic have been a bit of a one-two punch to my trust that something won’t happen in another 10 years.

    Despite security in my position and my company, I refresh my resume every 6 mos and job hunt nearly every year to keep interviewing skills fresh. (Not so much during the pandemic.) I keep on top of who my references are. I actively search out volunteer and educational opportunities not just for myself and my job, but to ensure my resume stands out. I make sure I know my worth and my skillset.

    I learned during the Great Recession that I don’t care about what industry I work in, I care about if my job keeps me interested. Does it play to my skillsets? Does it provide opportunities for me to learn and grow? Does it pay enough to feel secure in life? Is the company diverse and supportive of it’s diverse employees? Does it support it’s people in growing and learning? Does it give a flying crap about the communities it’s in, and the ones it’s employees belong to, and giving back to them?

  36. Spearmint*

    FWIW, despite the headlines of layoffs at big tech companies, unemployment in the tech industry as a whole is still very, very low, which means it probably won’t be too difficult to find another job if you’re laid off. I have a source I’ll link in a reply to this.

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t feel at all nervous about being laid off, but you are in a much better position than people laid off in other fields or different economic situations.

    1. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

      Looking forward to the source! I just switched to tech and I have a job, but the news has been scary.

      1. Spearmint*

        It’ll take awhile to post since links go through moderation, but the TLDR is that while tech unemployment has ticked up a bit, it’s still just 2.2%, which is extremely low. For comparison, unemployment in all industries is currently 3.6%, which is considered very low and a sign of how good the job market is for employees.

    2. David*

      That’s true, but it’s also worth noting that there are a lot more more job seekers on the market than there would usually be. And that is going to make job searching more difficult. Among the people I know who have recently been laid off (in tech), some are finding jobs and some are having a hard time.

  37. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I got laid off back in January. I was working in data– I consider myself to be “tech-adjacent”. We had very little warning (about two hours) and my whole team was shocked that I was on the list. I am fortunate that I have a generous financial safety net and a partner with a great job, but we were caught totally off guard.

    After about a day to get my head together, I started activating my network. Network, network, network. First, you will get more support and sympathy than you ever imagined, and second, you never know who knows whom. I had a ton of conversations and connected with colleagues from as far back as 20 years ago. Very few people had a job to offer, but many had ideas of companies for me to look into and other people to connect with. LinkedIn was critical in those first couple of weeks.

    I got really lucky– I am starting a new job next week and my unemployment period will be exactly three months. This is NOT common and likely a factor of my experience level. My last period of unemployment was four months, and I was expecting to be out for at least six months. Plan for the six months, not for the three. I took a retail job the last time I was unemployed, and while it didn’t pay much, it did a ton for my self-esteem and kept me from obliterating my savings.

    (PS I got this new job because I applied to a posting. Someone in my network works at the company but I only vaguely know her and she didn’t respond to my message when I reached out. So don’t forget to, you know, just apply in addition to using your network.)

    As to how I feel about my industry… I don’t want to get into too much detail, but the job I accepted is in a different part of my field. My last job was in the industry where I grew my career and I loved being there. I was so happy when I got that job. But now with layoffs happening left and right, I realized that I was much better off taking a good, well-paying position in a different part of the field even if it wasn’t perfect– the people have been great, the salary is good, the benefits are excellent, and this is much, much better than facing an unknown length of unemployment. This might be a great career shift for me, or it might be more of a twist in the path, and that’s ok. I’ll be able to grow my skills and I can always transfer them back.

    All of that said, I took my layoff HARD. Even with all of the support, even with my former company providing counseling services and career coaching, it was so hard. I have broken down many times. I had a few weeks where I heard nothing and it was horribly demoralizing. So I reminded myself to take breaks and breathe and reach out to people. EVERYONE was happy to hear from me and everyone was willing to chat when I needed it. Use that network.

    My former company, which I truly loved and believed in, is struggling. They handled these layoffs differently than they handled past layoffs, and it’s been rough on my former colleagues. They even lost some high-level people because of how this was handled. When I emailed my former boss to tell him about my new gig, he told me I ended up on the right side of things– really weird to hear that from him and a sad indicator of what’s going on.

  38. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

    1. Learn the seasons for job postings. In my experience, most jobs get posted in spring and summer, drop off in the fall, and shut down in winter. If you want to take time off before you start job hunting, just make sure you don’t wait until you hit that dry period.
    2. In a recruiter LinkedIn account, you get multiple search fields and ways to sort. One of the factors effecting sort is the candidate’s response rate to other recruiters. That means if you are a job hunter and junk job recruiters have reached out to you, REPLY ANYWAY, even if it’s to say “no thanks.” This moves the dial on responsiveness and will bump you up on the results page for other, better recruiters.
    3. LinkedIn prioritizes location. For example, let’s say I live in city A, and city B is 22 miles away. I set my search for a 25 mile radius, so this should get city B too. However, those jobs will frequently be 10 pages or more down the search, even if they’re good options. It’s a good idea to set up separate job alerts for each region.
    4. Schedule all of your doctor appointments now. Private health insurance is cripplingly expensive, so take care of your needs, check-ups, dental cleanings etc while you know you have coverage.
    5. Forward yourself all 401K info, samples for your portfolio, and contact info for important contacts now. If you get laid off, you may not have time to access those files later.
    6. Learn how to do a colleague’s job. Layoffs aren’t determined by how much people like you or how much work you get done in a day–it’s value for money. If they can find it cheaper, they’ll cut you and do the cheaper option. You’re not looking to demonstrate hard work–you’re looking to demonstrate efficiency and cost effectiveness. (I say this as someone who left the hospital early to come back and work despite being horribly ill, and I still got laid off and replaced with a freelancer. On my birthday.) If you can pick up another task and improve the value for money your company gets by keeping you, you’re in a much better place.

  39. DomaneSL5*

    I worked in banking and been through several M&As and the layoffs. If you stay at the same bank for more then 8 years without being laid off or M&A’d consider yourself lucky.

    When it comes to layoffs, I have found that either there was nothing I could do about it OR I stayed at the company because I had a good relationship with my manager.

    Layoffs are a good reason why to be a teamplayer at work. If your manager has a choice, and you standout as being a good worker/teamplayer/likeable, you might get through it.

    But sometimes a layoff is because there are 8 people doing the work of 4… so 4 others have to go. Nothing you can really do about it, espically if your location is being closed.

  40. Old13oy*

    You will be laid off at some point in your life in tech. You likely can’t avoid or control it.

    What you CAN control is how you deal with a layoff. Make sure you have enough saved for 6 months of expenses (6 months is the avg time for a job search). Take the first couple weeks off as vacation – cleanse from the negative energy of the layoff, find your time and balance, and most of all, *make sure you aren’t taking it personally*. Layoffs aren’t about you, they’re about the company, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it.

    Can’t recommend enough finding a hobby to invest your time in, even if it’s a bit of an extra expense. Last time I was laid off, I got really into woodworking – my pocket money went into wood and a membership at a local maker space. It helped a lot with my anxiety and nervousness to have something productive that I could go do during the day.

    1. Old13oy*

      Also, I see some people advocating that you take a hobby (i.e. woodworking) and turn it into a side hustle while you’re unemployed.

      Hey, do what you gotta do to keep a roof over your head – but make sure you are making space for yourself to do something that isn’t monetized.

      Your mental health will be better, your skill at your hobby will improve faster, you’ll find/keep your joy and having joy in your life is easily the most important thing that you can do during a stressful period like a job search.

      1. Relentlessly Socratic*

        I second this, you want your hobby to bring you some joy or diversion, not become something you have to do for cash.

      2. Colette*

        And many hobbies just aren’t viable as a side business – woodworking is time & resource intensive, for example, and you probably aren’t going to get someone to pay for the supplies & your time. Crochet dishclothes sell for $2 and take 45 minutes to make. It’s OK to do things for the joy of it.

  41. red82*

    Lots of good advice here! I would add: get the things you would want for a future job interview saved into your personal files now. For example, I generally bring a packet to interviews that includes my last couple performance evaluations. In earlier days before I worked on more confidential things I would bring work samples as well.

  42. AJPS*

    Late 30s tech worker recently laid off for the 2nd time – first time was 6 months heads up, this time was a phone call and metaphorically out the door.

    #1 recommendation: absolutely lean on your network. I posted on LinkedIn 2 weeks after the lay off and heard from 20+ people from all across my career offering help (or commiseration). Let your references know your situation too.

    Right now I’m cheekily describing it as “tis the season for tech layoffs” and everyone understands.

  43. Judge Judy and Executioner*

    My company went through pandemic furloughs first, and then layoffs and my boss, grandboss, and 1 of my 2 team members were affected. I did the best I could to control my area, and was able to lean in and help out where I could. I was in a service(ish) function and was able to help out cross-functionally for things like expense reconciliations, even though that wasn’t part of my regular job.

    I did get kudos for helping out and leaning in, but to be honest, it didn’t help my career at all. I took on a lot of stress, I knew about 1/3 of the people laid off on a first name basis. I’m a big softee, and sometimes would cry while doing some of the functions I picked up. If I had it do to over again, I’d do more to protect my own peace and mental health. I could have still leaned in and helped, but without as much of a personal cost. A company will never care for you as much as you care for them. Brush up on your resume and find a way out would be my advice, anytime there is a big layoff, the impact on the people remaining is typically not considered by upper management. Many people wished that they were laid off instead, especially when leadership wanted everything done the same way it used to be, despite having laid off all the responsible people. Years later, the impact of losing those people is still felt.

  44. NacSacJack*

    Yep. In my state, if you layoff more than 50 people in a certain time period, they do require 60 day notices. In the past, my company would lay off 25 people at a time within that period and do no warnings, no 60 days of employment, you are out of a job now. Also, before that time, if they did layoffs, tech staff would be walked out the same day they were WARNed. More recently, they have expected employees to work out their 60 days notice.

  45. Kasee Laster*

    Just to underline/repeat what someone said above: know your health insurance situation. Exactly how long would you have coverage if you were laid off tomorrow? What do you need to schedule medically within that window? (Ex: you’re low on med refills and need an appointment in order to get new Rx. Your glasses/contacts aren’t doing the trick anymore and you need a new exam.) Get that stuff done.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      This, especially anything you’ve been putting off or don’t do that often, like dental cleaning / dental work.

    2. NacSacJack*

      I had a friend get fired the last business day of the month without any notice(he was on rocky ground) and lost his insurance on that day. The company deliberately walked him out that day rather than on the day they agreed(next week) just to be able to drop him from their insurance. How does he know? He paid the insurance premium for the next month that week and he was included in the payment. When he called up the insurance company to find why his claims were being denied, they told him he was no longer on the policy, that they had refunded the share of the premium covering him back to the company.

      1. I have RBF*

        Yeah, when my last job ended they said they would cover me until the end of the month. They lied. I had to go back and pay COBRA for that period. Trust but verify.

  46. hi there*

    Not tech industry, but dealing with a project closure so a small-scale layoff. I would second any other commenters suggesting that folks “tighten their belts,” so to speak, or to make careful investments in the short-term potential job loss. It’s scary, but think about what you need NOW while you have health insurance, 401K, steady income stream… is it more cash stored away in the bank? is it that new pair of glasses that hasn’t been a high enough priority in your schedule?

    Otherwise, use the opportunity to refresh your resume. Think about it from the perspective of transferable skills. Yes, you work in tech right now, but could any of your experience translate to a different field? Layoffs are NOT about YOU, the employee. You have a lot of strengths and talent to offer to an employer.

    And extra support to folks commenting about using your layoff time for self-care. Yes, you can look for other work, but if you make that a 9-5 job it will drive you nuts with anticipation. If you do get laid off, are there activities you want to take advantage of? Maybe make a self-care bucket list of hikes, concerts, coffee shops, books… Whatever will help sustain and replenish you during this transition.

  47. Former Young Lady*

    I went through this in 2012, when I worked in oil and gas accounting. (…I know, ew.)

    My layoff was a lot kinder and gentler than most, so disregard anything below that doesn’t apply to you.

    1. If you are offered “outplacement assistance,” take it — but with a grain of salt. I had one fabulous career coach who worked with me remotely from a big city, and another well-meaning but hilariously inept one who worked with me here in town. Vet any advice with the same skepticism you’d give your college career counselor, but be gracious — you may make new connections, or at least get a free lunch as part of a mock interview. Free food is a good thing right now.

    2. One thing I wish I’d realized at the time: being lucky enough to get a severance package does not mean you shouldn’t file for unemployment. It is not “welfare,” it is an insurance plan you have paid into as a worker. You might as well make a claim on it. This is what it’s for.

    3. Severance will probably come with legal strings attached, but they’re not necessarily awful strings. Any decent employer will encourage you to have a lawyer review your agreement before you sign it, and you should.

    4. Read the fine print. Don’t be like my very naive colleague who assumed she’d still get her semi-precious parachute if she quit two weeks before her separation date to start a new job.

    5. From personal experience: if your building access badge also works as your transit pass, assume the brain trust will inactivate it the minute you leave the building. Make sure you have bus fare on you.

    6. Trust your gut, and keep an eye on what’s happening to other departments. We knew our colleagues in other states had already been through big RIFs, but leadership insisted our jobs were safe. Still, we knew darn well what it meant when the email came out announcing our office would have a “town hall meeting with important team news!”

    7. As others have pointed out, there’s nothing wrong with job searching before the writing is on the wall. You can always change your mind at offer time. Don’t be afraid to explore new industries; your skills are likely more marketable and translatable than you think, and you might benefit from a change of scene.

    8. If the axe falls, please give yourself permission to mope and process it as time allows. But ignore any jerkish voice in your brain that says no healthy, functional company would ever want you.

    Hang in there. You’ll survive this.

    1. Former Young Lady*

      I almost forgot: there’s a nonzero chance that HR will still require an “exit interview,” and that they won’t have a script tailored to involuntary reduction in force.

      Try your best to contain the bitter laughter if they ask you, “Reason for leaving this job?” and “Anything we could have done to make you stay?” as they confiscate your laptop and ID badge.

      True story.

    2. Decorative Rocks*

      Any decent employer will encourage you to have a lawyer review your agreement before you sign it, and you should.

      I didn’t know this when I was laid off. You don’t have to sign the agreement in the moment. You are allowed to take it home and review it and have someone else review it as well.

  48. Rebecca*

    Honestly when I started my career I just had no idea how common it is to lose your job. I think because when I went to events with speakers from industry as a student, people just glossed over those parts of their careers and focused on the successes… which I get but also knowing how common it is would have made me feel SO much better when it happened to me the first time.

    Having now been through it twice my advice is:

    1. Save all the work files you need! This is as someone in the creative industry who needs all of those files for my portfolio. The first time I got fired I did not have anything saved and it was only thanks to a coworker that I was close to that I got any of those files I needed.

    2. Start updating your CV and cover letter (and portfolio if you need one) now so you’re ready to hit the ground running as soon as you need.

    3. Start networking more, whether in person or on Linkedin. Also start adding/following recruiters on Linkedin as they often post jobs on their profile before they make it to any jobs board.

    4. Make an excel spreadsheet of the companies you want to apply to with the contact name and email in there so when you need to start reaching out it’s a lot quicker and also you can then keep track of where you have applied to, who replied and when.

    5. If you are in an industry where freelancing is an option then definitely consider that as a stop gap. If you do go for it then also make sure you look into what admin you need to do to set up. I am in the UK and you have to register with the government to do freelance work and that stuff is always worth doing in advance. And hey you may end like me and go into freelance because you lost your job and then end up sticking with it because you enjoy it so much!

    6. If you think you are going to be fired imminently, then start planning some fun things to do for the first few days. Go to a museum, a bike ride, whatever but make the first few days a nice mental break because jumping straight into a 9-5 job search is so soul destroying (also generally don’t job hunt 9-5… do a few hours and then do something else so you don’t lose your mind). The first time I got fired I spent the next day sat in the park with my friend eating strawberries and drinking cheap prossecco. 10/10 would reccomend.

    But crucially just remember that not only has everyone been through this before but also personally my best career moves happened because I got fired. It gave me the ability to try something new and take those risks because I had a lot less to lose! So whilst it always sucks in the moment its not always a bad thing in the long run.

  49. Colette*

    I’ve been laid off 3 times. My recommendations:
    – cultivate hobbies/activities outside of work – people whose identity is entirely wrapped up in their job do worse after layoffs, IME

    – Look at your budget. What are your needs (a place to live, water/electricity, food, medication)? What are your “nice to haves” (e.g. internet, netflix, gym membership, etc.)? What are your non-essentials (take out, new clothes, etc.) – obviously these are not the same for everyone, so figure out where your money is going, how much you need for the life you life now, and how much you need for a bare-bones lifestyle – and then figure out when you start making cuts.

    – Look at your savings. If you don’t have any, is there a way to make cuts to start building savings?

    – Google the process for applying for unemployment where you live, so that you know what you need to do when you need to do it. (Apply right away, because it might take a while.)

    – Make a list of (free) things you can do if you’re unemployed. Clean out the tupperware cabinet, wash the windows, go for a walk in the park. Come up with something to do every day while you’re job searching.

    – If you are laid off, come up with a daily routine. I slept in, then spent an hour or so job hunting, then went to the gym (I prioritized a gym membership to get me out of the house).

    – Tell people you’re looking. I got my last 2 jobs because I told someone I was unemployed.

    – Make a list of people you used to work with; be prepared to send them an email and ask to meet/have a call to catch up. This is partially for networking purposes, and partially because when you have bad days – and you will – it helps to talk with people who respect you & your ability to do your job. Plus you can get a lot of information about how different organizations function, salary, etc.

    – Have you been thinking of making a career change? Now’s the time to look into what that would take.

    – Work on your resume. Make sure you’re highlight accomplishments, not responsibilities.

    – Do you have stuff at work you want to keep (either physical or electronic)? Now’s the time to foward your performance evaluation home, for example, and perhaps start taking your personal stuff home.

    – It’s normal to want to take some time off after you get laid off; I don’t recommend taking more than a week. I had coworkers who took the summer off before job hunting, and they never really got started again. Unemployment is not a vacation; it’s OK to take time off but always give yourself an end date for your vacation (and stick to it!)

    1. Colette*

      Oh, also, IME it is almost harder to NOT be laid off than to be laid off. Take care of yourself even if you still have a job.

      I recommend minimizing the amount of layoff talk you participate in at work – it’s OK to say “I need to stop dwelling on this, I’ll talk to you later”.

      1. DameB*

        I mean, I live in America so I wouldn’t say it’s WORSE. But it’s def it’s own misery. I’ve managed to survive every round of layoffs I’ve been through (seven? eight? You lose track) and it’s exhausting to be left behind. The stress, the guilt, the hushed tense atmosphere, the speculation, the weird behavior of management who stayed on but are now very spooked… the WORKLOAD.

        When Covid hit, my company got slashed in half. My team was particularly hard hit and I went from managing a team of two with two other folks pitching in to just ME and the deadline got moved UP a month. That was a nightmare.

      2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        Re: almost harder to be the one not laid off. Yes, you’re expected to carry a lot of guilt for “surviving”, for sure. Usually not made explicit, although there was the one round of layoffs at a prior employer where a number of the people being laid off (they were given a month or so of notice, and expected to work those weeks) started saying to the “survivors” things like I hope you’re enjoying that sandwich, we’re losing our jobs so you can continue to eat… etc. (I offered one of those people my job and he said no!)

        1. Colette*

          Part of it is that the people who are laid off can focus on the future – they don’t know where they’re going necessarily, but they know they’re not staying there.

          But the people who remain are in the same old tense environment, only it’s worse now.

    2. Colette*

      And I forgot to add – LinkedIn is your friend. Connect to the people you currently work with (now, before the layoffs), and make a particular effort to get back in touch with anyone who might be a reference for you.

  50. OP*

    OP here, just want to say thank you so much to everyone who has responded so far and thanks in advance to future commenters. Really appreciate the advice and insight into all of your experiences! I’m in Europe so will be around for a bit, but may not be able to read everything until tomorrow.

  51. HR Exec Popping In*

    Lots of great advice here already. I’ll add, don’t over personalize it. I know that is hard to do, but getting laid off is not an assessment of your worth. Keep your head up and have faith in your abilities and talent.

    If you do get let go, make finding your next job your fulltime job. Get up every day and put time into finding a new job. It is also fine to take some time off from doing that – just like you take time off from a job. You need to stay balanced and take care of your mental health.

    Don’t be embarrassed about getting laid off. It happens to a lot of really talented people. And there are companies looking to hire talent being let go in the tech industry. You may want to broaden your search for tech jobs in non-tech industries. Even traditional CPGs are looking to bring in more tech talent. Your skills are valuable and in demand. Your industry is just a little uncertain right now so be open to other industries.

  52. So Much For That Good News Friday Post*

    I was laid off in mid-February in the first rounds. Ideally, you wouldn’t get laid off, but here’s what I did before, during, and after. I’ve already landed a new role but I’m still interviewing for another that’s more of a first choice for me.

    – Start going through your past work and make a (long) list of accomplishments or what you’ve done over your last year or more there. It’s a helpful brain dump so you can organize into accomplishments for your resume later.

    – Make copies of things or adjust them for your own portfolio or as a reminder. You can’t steal intellectual property, but I have made sure to grab copies of writing, blank templates I created, and other things I made to help me do my job better so I could use bits and pieces in my next role.

    – Network now; if you haven’t made a lot of effort to be seen or network internally, do it now. I got my best job leads from others at the company I was laid off from who didn’t get laid off, but knew the caliber of my work.

    When it happens:

    – Take a day (or week!) to grieve. Don’t panic-apply, don’t rant and rave, don’t make a huge public stink. I found it helpful to post a “I was impacted today” post on LinkedIn, but I was otherwise pretty quiet on social media.

    Afterwards when you’re job hunting:

    – No one cares that you were laid off anymore. Just say “I was impacted” very matter of factly and then move on.

    – Don’t spray and pray for your applications. I networked and let old colleagues know I was impacted, keep me in mind if they hear of anything, and then applied judiciously to places that seemed interesting. My personal benchmark was that if I didn’t feel like tailoring a cover letter for them, I wouldn’t apply.

    – Factor inflation into your salary requests. My upper-level-of-average salary requirement last year, and getting paid over my goal, has become the very very average salary band this year. Even being laid off, you’re still in a position to negotiate! After all, if the company you’d been at hadn’t been so short-sighted as to let their tenured people go, you wouldn’t even be available for a new organization right now.

    Be kind to yourself. It is HARD. It is STRESSFUL. I’d never been laid off before and it was like a punch to the gut. You’ll get through it.

  53. Shiny Penny*

    1. Look up the WARN notices for your state and for the state where your company’s headquarters is located (if you’re in the US). It can give you an idea of the impact for your location.
    2. Revise your resume.
    3. Review your finances and cut back where you can.
    4. Find out your legal rights for your state. You may be manipulated/incentivized into signing legal docs in order to access a severance payout.
    5. Join networking sites (fishbowl, LinkedIn, etc) and get a feel for other companies and how people are handling their layoffs.
    6. Protect your peace. I “survived” the layoff but the whole process made me depressed and physically sick. There were others who left after the layoffs concluded and we are still on a hiring freeze so those of us still here are covering for 2-3 additional jobs (instead of 1-2 additional jobs) and are burning out.

    The stress is shocking. My employer told us in November that Layoffs would start in December so we all had to wait 4 weeks for the notices to even start. I applied to safe jobs (less pay, lateral moves, outside tech) just in case I was impacted. For me, being proactive kept my stress lower.

  54. BagginsAtHeart*

    In Oct 2022, my job gave us all 30 days’ notice they would be laying off up to 50% of the company, but didn’t yet know who. That was a horrible 30 days. Here’s what I did to feel like I had control over the situation:
    1. Used my health insurance benefits! I scheduled as many annual exams and filled as many prescriptions as I could.
    2. Started job-searching. I made sure my resume was updated with my current job accomplishments while they were still fresh in my mind/I had access to the data to back it up. Luckily, I had a final round interview on Layoff Day and was able to start a new job 3 weeks after being laid off.
    3. Reviewed my budget and made some medium- and worst-case scenario plans. I also preemptively cancelled a lot of subscriptions I didn’t need, and put that extra money right back into savings.
    4. I didn’t do this, but I’ve seen other advice about stocking your pantry with non-perishables or household items. This is probably more helpful if you have advanced notice of when your last paycheck will be, but I think it’s solid advice.
    5. If you are laid off — it’s okay to lean into those feelings. Give yourself a finite amount of time for feeling sorry for yourself with absolutely no pressure to be productive.

    1. I have RBF*

      In general it’s a good idea to have extra staples and non-perishable food on hand in case of an emergency – like a layoff, supply chain hiccup, or a natural disaster like an earthquake, blizzard, tornado or wildfire.

      Emergency preparedness doesn’t just mean preparing for big disasters that end up calling out FEMA and the National Guard. It means preparing for personal things like unemployment and illness, too. Those are still emergencies, after all, just personal ones.

    2. Fishsticks*

      I’m sure it felt awful during that month of time, but God, getting that much time to prepare and start job-searching sounds so so nice, too. What a monkey’s paw scenario.

  55. John*

    Do an honest assessment of your job security.

    If you’re the last in, there’s a reasonable likelihood you’re at risk. If your performance evals haven’t been strong, ditto. Does your manager like you? How is your part of the business performing?

    Unless that informal assessment gives you reason to feel especially vulnerable, don’t let yourself get caught up in the swirl of anxiety. What’s the worst case scenario, a 10% reduction? For every employee to lose substantial sleep is nuts. Remind yourself there is zero value in worrying over stuff you can’t control.

    But do take time to update/polish your resume, and keep your eyes and ears peeled to opportunities.

    1. Educator*

      As a manager, I have had to lay off people with great performance reviews and who I really liked. Sometimes when my part of the buisness was performing well, but others were not. It is really and truly, as people are saying above, not personal.

      No job is perfectly secure. (I’ve seen the layoff thing play out in union environments too.) Most jobs are not secure at all. If someone thinks their job is secure, they are almost certainly wrong. It is prudent to be ready for a layoff at any time. That’s just capitalism in 2023.

      I don’t think that should paralyze anyone with anxiety, but it should prompt us all to take rational steps to prepare to be without income and know how to transition healthcare and retirement.

  56. Jennifer Strange*

    I’ve never been laid off, but I was furloughed back at the start of the pandemic. Something that helped me is that I immediately reached out to an organization my company works with and asked if they needed any part-time help. Not only did it help provide me at least some money, but I also ended up getting trained in some things that I think made me even more valuable when I was back at my regular company.

  57. syncbeat*

    – work on your debt
    – have a sizable emergency fund
    – have a side hustle

    Given the state of late-stage capitalism/no safety net, workers are expendable and layoffs are inevitable. The above are good practices regardless of economic winds.

    1. Mark the Herald*

      Debt and emergency fund are tough to do even in good times, and they take years. If you are staring down the barrel of layoffs in the near term, see if you can use your steady employment and good credit score to get in a better spot before you lose those too. If you have credit card debit, see if you can get a lower interest loan through your bank or credit union or even if you can move it to a card with a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers (use with caution).

  58. An American(ish) Werewolf in London(ish)*

    I am probably repeating some of the comments and advice already offered, so I’ll try not to focus on the super obvious. Our company has made redundancies – happily, I escaped (this time) but here’s what I did until I found out I’m not part of the lay-offs:

    1. Updated my CV/Resume in line with advice above. In fact, I completely re-wrote it – I’d been using basically the same template for 20 years (with obvious tweaks – times have certainly changed since then!) It is WAY easier to update your CV in a positive manner with a positive attitude when you’re still employed and still at least semi-motivated. I know from bitter experience that doing that is MUCH harder when you’re upset and feeling low or like a failure. Plus, if you do this before the redundancies are announced, you can look at work you have done to put (where appropriate) hard numbers against your accomplishments an example from my CV ‘The resulting campaign, once activated, delivered a 41% reduction in cost per showroom visit’ Even though I escaped this round, I feel better knowing I could start applying for jobs almost immediately without having to overhaul my CV (though I’ve not yet overhauled my LinkedIn – that’s still on my to-do list)

    2. If you’re like me and you’ve worked there for some time, you may have a folder on the server (or cloud) called ‘personal’ or similar. Mine has photographs of my grandchildren, it has bank statements, stuff to do with my taxes, my payslips and even the deck I presented when I interviewed for this job. I immediately backed it up onto a stick (being VERY careful to only back up truly personal stuff). I’d hope my company wouldn’t have cut off my access immediately, but at least I was prepared if they did.

    3. Do you have any personal or professional (but ethical) contacts you’d rather not lose? Contacts that might help you find another job? Back those up too (with the caveat to be careful not to take anything proprietary or subject to any kind of confidentiality or non-compete issues)

    4. If you’re really adrift and have the time and financial resources, consider reaching out to a trusted coach (I say this because I have a friend whom I’d trust with my life and is also a career coach, but be wary – there are a lot of charlatans out there – use this only if you can get personal references).

    5. It’s worth Googling employment law in your state or country. I am in the UK – both gov.co.uk and ACAS have a plain English description of the law, of your rights and what the company must do under various circumstances. In England, anyway, you can also call ACAS for free advice if you think your employer has broken the law.

    And finally…be kind to yourself. Redundancy isn’t personal. It’s your role that is redundant, not you as a person. With many lay-offs, even if you’re the best llama groomer in the world, if your company is outsourcing its llama grooming capabilities, there’s nothing you can do. It’s almost certainly not your fault.

    Good luck!

  59. Lora*

    As an older Gen Xer who has been through layoffs out the wazoo:

    1) Have your own computer and keep your personal stuff on there. Do not do your taxes, your resume, your LinkedIn etc. with a work computer. Someday it will be gone with no notice and you’ll be locked out, because all the password resets will be going to an email that no longer exists.
    2) Don’t keep much personal stuff at work, period. I used to have libraries of reference texts at work. No more. Employers need to buy me an electronic version or provide me with their own library subscription services. When I worked on site, my desk never had anything that couldn’t be swept into a backpack on my last day.
    3) Tell your network IMMEDIATELY that you were laid off, you learned so much working with delightful colleagues at ExJob and you’re looking forward to your new adventure blah blah. Keep resume and LinkedIn up to date and detailed. Have the personal contact info for references and old colleagues – lots of them, because you never know when your old boss will be out of the country for three weeks or heaven forfend sick in the hospital. My old grad school advisor who thought I was the bees knees died in a boating accident in his 50s; it made the job applications weird for a bit.
    4) If at all possible have a side gig you could spin into a second career. I am on Sub-field #3 after 30 years and working on picking up the skill set for #4. I honestly don’t think “careers” last more than 10 years these days, I’ve seen too many Cool New Things come and go, and too many entire fields get replaced with automation or the internet . The people I know who have tried to remain specialized in a particular field often found themselves out of work and struggling to get something else. Be flexible. There’s a tendency for people to view their own specialty, particularly if they have a lot of graduate education in the specialty, as very precious and wonderful and other fields somewhat less so – don’t. Be prepared to shift gears, potentially drastically. Think of all the other things that you can do, if you had to, to make the bare minimum you need to survive.
    5) If at all possible be open to relocation. Somewhat harder, but if the jobs are available in Big Hub, by all means go there. I also had many colleagues who took “be laid off or go to Remote Location” deals, went to the Remote Location, and were laid off six months later anyway – but now paying for two mortgages with no job. You want to live, if at all possible, in a region that offers several employers. Don’t put all your employment eggs in one basket. Best thing I ever did was relocate to a major employment hub, it strongly offsets my personal risk that I take on working at a company. Remote locations are chosen by companies because of cost of living, but in real life they should be paying extra or setting up contracts to offset the personal risk you take on agreeing to work for a company that can’t guarantee a lack of corporate malpractice.

  60. Snow Globe*

    I’ve been through this a few times. If a layoff is a possibility, start your job search now. If you get an offer before you know anything, you don’t have to accept it, but just knowing you can find something will probably ease your mind a bit. Most likely the job search can take a while and you’ll know what will happen with your current job before you start getting offers.

    The main thing I’d want you to know is that the many people I know who have gone through layoffs ended up in a good place once the dust settled. It’s not the end of a career, and you may find a great place that is a better fit than where you are now.

  61. JustMe*

    I used to work for a publicly funded organization that regularly liaised with elected officials. In 2016, a public official who had some unknown political issue with our CEO raised an official complaint against him that triggered an investigation. At the end of the investigation, no wrongdoing was found, but the CEO resigned and many of the higher-ups also resigned in protest. At the same time, the financial person was hoarding money (i.e. not what you do at a nonprofit or gov’t org. where you need to spend everything down by the end of the year, otherwise you have a budget shortfall the next year). That was ALSO the same year Trump was elected, so for political/ideological reasons there was projected to be a budget shortfall, anyway. The org needed to exist per federal regulations, so we couldn’t just shutter. An external damage control team hired a new Executive Director, and she laid everyone off to rebuild the org from scratch.

    The thing that made the layoff hard for me was that about a month before the layoff, I met 1:1 with HR and said, “Let’s be real, with everything that’s going on, I have not been able to do the thing you hired me to do. Would you be honest and tell me if I should be job searching?” She said no, that there was so much work to do even if it wasn’t exactly what I was originally hired for. She cried when she told me I was laid off, and it was sad to see all of our hard work go to nothing.

    That night, I drank a bottle of wine and watched My Fair Lady, which helped a lot. I had saved up quite a bit of money, so I actually was not in a position to need to find a new job right away. My fiancée and I had been talking about the possibility of moving to a new city, anyway, so I got a job at a temp agency in an adjacent field until we moved and I was able to get a permanent position. In my case, it didn’t cause any problems in my interviews to say, “I was laid off following the election due to a projected budget shortfall. I was also planning to relocate here, so I found a short-term position with the llama foundation, but now I’m looking to work for you at the Alpaca Institute permanently.”

  62. Somehow_I_Manage*

    Update both of your resumes. That means 1) Your personal resume, that includes your position at the firm and you responsibilities, and 2) Your “corporate” resume, that includes a list of all of the projects or tasks you’ve worked on, the clients you supported, and your role.

    If you’re in a position of consulting or professional services, the “corporate” resume is extremely important to your value. That’s what your employers will use to market you and win work! It can be very difficult to piece it together by memory, so the best practice is to keep a copy updated annually. Make sure to keep a recent copy in your personal records- in case you lose access.

  63. SaffyTaffy*

    I got through a big layoff by focusing on “extracurricular” things, which for me meant selling paintings, going to the gym to train for an ultramarathon, and doing volunteer work. I actually found the job I eventually took through one of these avenues, after getting friendly with someone I wouldn’t have met otherwise.

  64. Sauron*

    Thanks for posting. I’m late twenties, always felt like my tech job was very stable, and just got notified that I’m getting laid off two days ago (and they call it “Resource Action” here which is…somehow a lot worse?). I’ll be following this for tips. Definitely have mixed feelings about the whole thing, since I’ve been at this company for my whole career thus far.

  65. A Simple Narwhal*

    One thing I always recommend (whether you’re getting laid off or leaving of your own accord) is to make sure you take advantage of all the benefits you can, both through insurance and your company. Do you get a vision credit? Time to get extra contacts or new glasses. Will your company cover the fee for global entry/precheck? Gym reimbursement? Costco membership? Sign up! Essentially make sure you aren’t leaving any money on the table.

    1. Mark the Herald*


      Get your teeth all checked now and get any fillings and crowns you need done. If you’re out of work with no dental, best you can do is go to the ER to have a tooth pulled – and that’s not cheap either. *

      Definitely don’t leave the glasses and contacts you get through your vision on the table.*

      Get all of your shots. Your colonoscopy. Your checkup. Complain now about anything that hurts.*

      See if your pediatrician will bump childhood vaccinations forward a month or two, if you suspect you’ll be out of work soon.*

      *Does not apply in civilized countries.

  66. Stavia*

    I’ve been laid off a lot in my working life, primarily because I’ve tended to work contract jobs. I also work in tech, so layoffs are just a fact of life.

    My strategies for preparing for/dealing with layoffs:

    1. I keep my living expenses as low as I can manage, and I know what I can cut out immediately if my income goes away. I know how much I would make on unemployment and I do my best to keep my rent low enough that unemployment will cover it. (It’s no longer quite feasible for me to do that, but unemployment would cover a significant percentage of my rent.) Prioritize keeping a roof over your head above all else. Friends and family are often happy to help with food/gas/etc, but being evicted or foreclosed on makes your life much, much harder.

    2. I keep my resume and LinkedIn up to date and add any significant coworkers as connections.

    3. I apply for unemployment right away after I’ve been notified. I’ve occasionally been working a second job while on unemployment, and while my benefits have been reduced a little, generally it also adds on time at the end of the unemployment benefits period.

    4. I don’t use work email for anything personal, and I try to make sure that if I suddenly lose access to all of my work stuff, I don’t lose access to anything in my personal life.

    5. Every time I get laid off, I make sure to take a couple of weeks to decompress. I will usually take a little road trip to somewhere pretty nearby, get my apartment super clean, do some hikes, enjoy going out in the middle of the day when I’d usually be working, stuff like that. I’ll also make myself work on my personal creative projects even if I don’t especially feel like it, because otherwise I get sad and bored.

    6. If I have the option to have taxes taken out of my unemployment benefits, I do it if at all possible! This helps prevent nasty tax season surprises the next year.

    7. I remember that, in the end, a layoff isn’t about me. The money ran out for my contract, the company downsized, the economy tanked. It’s just capitalism doing its thing.

  67. Dumpster Fire*

    Lots of great advice so far and I don’t really have any to add. That being said: if you NEED work and think you can stand it, school districts are absolutely crying for substitute teachers. The money’s not great but the schedule is flexible (because you can turn down a day anytime you want) and there’s no work outside of the school day.

    1. Skippy*

      Great advice, and I’d also add that afterschool programs are a great option as well. If you like kids, that is!

  68. Mark the Herald*

    I’ll be the guy to go bleak. Listen, I love reading the “what to do” stuff. “What to do if you are attacked by a bear.” “How to survive being stranded at sea.” “Ten things to do if you are diagnosed with cancer.” It helps you feel prepared and in control.

    But layoffs are random, unfair, cruel, and there’s no magic secret code to surviving them. Bad things happen to good people all the time.

  69. Once upon a task*

    I was in my early 20s in 2008 when I was laid off. Suddenly I was surviving off of credit cards I had no emergency fund. It took me years to pay off my cards and realize how stupid it was to use my credit cards to begin with. Talk to your network immediately and often. I got my next job for 2 reasons 1 I decided to go back to school at night to beef up my resume but mainly because of the 2nd reason. Which is I spoke with my network and got a job through a friend. it didnt pay as much but it paid off as my next job was nesrly twice what I was making

  70. the Viking Diva*

    I work on soft money – grants and contracts – so my livelihood is always at some level of risk. I enjoy the entrepreneurial aspect of this, but it’s key that it not become a worry. Three strategies have helped me stay peaceful about this risk:

    1. Keep impeccable track of expenses and review regularly so that I know the minimum monthly budget I can live on, vs what expenses can be eliminated.

    2. Set aside 6 times this minimum monthly budget in some account where the funds can be made fluid on short notice. For me, 6 months of living expenses would buy the needed time to regroup (your figure may differ from 6). Before I accumulated that sum, I used strategy #1 to know just how many months my savings could get me through.

    3. Have a backup plan that I could implement if I needed to start earning before something else kicked in. One backup plan was to get a commercial driver’s license and become a city bus driver. Another was what I called the redshirt plan: “I have a red shirt so I could always work at Target.” I didn’t *want* to do either of those things, but here those two are always hiring, and it has helped me to know I had a scheme to get through a lean time.

  71. CanRelate*

    My partner is in an industry that was already prone to layoffs and has been laid off twice. There is so much good advice here, but I wanted to add some notes to the general “do networking” advice:

    My partners greatest asset when he was post layoffs, full stop, was being a pleasant and efficient worker that people remembered fondly. Massive layoffs mean that suddenly your core group of coworkers spreads to the winds, often within your industry. When he was laid off from his first job, he went to mostly knowing people at one company to having pretty good connections to most of the companies in town in the ensuing months.

    When that first layoff happened, his coworkers made a Facebook group and shared job listings and checked in on each other every now and then. We would make the time to hit that little meet up at the bar, or brunch with a friend. He met up to hear about peoples side projects and donated a little of his time.

    If its not within the realm of your personality to make small talk, or take initiative to join work social events, this may not come naturally to you. Its much easier for my partner than it is for me, personally! But I took this lesson away from my partners layoffs and made more effort in my own job to be more willing to participate in building professional relationships with my coworkers, on top of my already generally good performance. Its not something that you can jerk around and do as soon as its layoff time, so its something that you can think of a s prep and safe guarding when you start a new job, or in your current job when things are secure.

  72. ItBetterNotBeACactus*

    The tech layoff hit me this week. My area got hit big. Good, smart people. I’m angry and embarrassed, quite frankly, for my company.

    I’m torn between aggressive job hunting and taking an extended vacation. If I get a job ASAP, I’m concerned about by angry and burned out. If I take time off, will I miss the boat and there will be no jobs? (I am grateful that taking time is a financial option for me.)

    1. Decorative Rocks*

      Good smart people get laid off. Your company probably regrets losing most of them. I strongly recommend reframing this event bc your anger and embarrassment, even if they are for your company, will not serve you well as you move forward.

      1. ItBetterNotBeACactus*

        Indeed — I definitely need to work through these feelings and not drag them with me to another job.

  73. DameB*

    I’ve gone through SO many rounds of layoffs… In addition to all the lovely advice above, I suggest making sure that you have access to everything even if you got locked out of work.

    1. Get private contact information from coworkers that you only email through the office, esp any managers who might also be laid off. I still can’t find some of my old managers b/c they were laid off and I didn’t have time to get their numbers. References are a bitch without that information. (Linkd in is probably super helpful for this but didn’t exist when I went through this.)
    2. Is there anything physical at the office that you can’t be without? A lot of layoffs mean you get escorted out of the office and packing up your box with security watching is flustering and you might forget something. (That said, don’t make it too obvious that you’re clearing your desk.)
    3. I’m a writer. I always keep my writer’s portfolio up to date, but I knew writers who didn’t and who suddenly lost access to the backlog of hard copy and even whole websites. If there’s an equivalent of that in your gig, make sure you’ve got your own copies.

  74. Just a Manager*

    I worked for a large company that was slowly dying, and we went through layoffs every year. I found layoff.com an interesting site to follow. They have pages for each company going through layoffs. There’s a lot of nonsense and rumor, but some posts were spot on and predicted what would happen. Eventually, the company laid off everyone in my department except me and wanted me to do all the work. I left shortly after that. They went bankrupt a year later.

  75. BeenThere*

    I was laid off a while back. Perhaps I should have seen it coming, but I didn’t (it was round 3…I thought they were done with layoffs).
    -It hit me really hard. I liked my job and my coworkers. I had a good support system so I was “okay” financially, but I wanted to work (and I was 6 months pregnant, so job searching was awkward). I took about 2 weeks to sulk, and then just started looking at every local employer to see what they had available (and made a spreadsheet of open jobs, prioritizing what I was interested in so I wasn’t overwhelmed).
    – Leverage your network and think outside the box. This might not be great for everyone, but I took a lot of interviews that I wasn’t very optimistic about—it was a great way to practice my interview skills, and you might be surprised by what they have to offer. I also contacted a former boss, and he took me on as a temp to help through some big deliverables while I was between jobs. They didn’t have something full time, but it was a nice bridge.
    – Some companies are trying to scout the tech talent (ie, mine). Consider looking at companies that aren’t as flashy, but still have a need for tech expertise. My company struggles to compete with big tech when we recruiting, but we still need software engineers and web developers, etc.

  76. BellyButton*

    Preparing for a layoff at my current age of 47 is a whole different than it was when I was under 35. So I’ll give you as practical advice as I can.
    1. Make sure you have filed and paid any owed federal/state tax- this can impact your unemployment
    2. File for unemployment the day you are notified of a lay off. Go to the website before it happens and look up everything you need to have
    3. Be prepared to work any job you can get if it is taking a long time to find a job (when I was younger and didn’t have enough savings to survive long, I began cleaning houses and worked in a bookstore)
    4. Call credit cards, school loans, car loans, everything you can and ask if they can defer at least one payment. If you are in good standing many will.
    5. Consider a loan on an existing 401k if needed. I found that under 35 I was able to make up the amount I took (This will not be popular advice- but I found it is better to take a loan like this instead of defaulting on credit cards and other loans that can have huge fees and interest rates)
    6. Apply to anything and everything in your field- below and above your current level. When I was laid off the last time I was applying to 10-25 jobs a day. It still took me 8 months. Looking for a full time job IS a full time job.

    Good luck, everyone!

    1. Colette*

      One of the pieces of advice I got was to get a line of credit while you were still employed, in case you needed it when you were unemployed. I never did need it, but it’s not a bad idea if your alternative is expensive credit cards.

    2. Decorative Rocks*

      5. Consider a loan on an existing 401k if needed.

      This is really good advice, and it would not have occurred to me. It shouldn’t be your first move, but yes, if the alternatives are carrying a balance on higher interest credit card or defaulting on something, it’s a viable option.

      1. Free Advice*

        Careful, I believe many 401k loans require you to pay back the borrowed money immediately if you lose your job.

        1. WFH FTW*

          ^ this is true. Termination from your employer can render the loan due. If you need the money, take a distribution. Know it’ll be taxed higher.

  77. Seashell*

    My husband is over 50, in the tech world, and also stressed out about all this, so it’s not just the youngins. He has only gotten laid off once before and had a new job before the severance payment ended. He’s good at networking and keeps in touch with people in his work world, so I’m confident he will land on his feet if he does get laid off.

  78. Orora*

    I worked in start-ups for years (dot com boom and bust, anyone?). I’ve processed my own termination paperwork. Most of the companies I worked for in my early days no longer exist.

    All of these are good suggestions. I especially endorse knowing your rights under the law and having copies of non-proprietary documents/processes you developed. File for unemployment and do so immediately; it usually takes 2 weeks of waiting for it to kick in. Also, it is insurance that your employer pays for on your behalf. It’s literally a benefit, so use it.

    But if your company has lay offs and you aren’t laid off, understand that survivor’s guilt is real. You’ll feel both shitty and thankful that you aren’t the one job searching. Keep your ear to the ground and share information with others when you can. Once you know about the layoffs, try to get ahead of any changes to workflow due to reduced labor. If you have time with your laid off colleagues, try to get a knowledge dump from them and in return, offer to help with resumes, references, job leads.

  79. Surveyor*

    Worked in construction during the Great Recession. It was brutal and my job was up for redundancy twice, but I fortunately was kept both times.

    What stuck with me most was how temporary the situation was. Today, yes, this is a shitty thing to happen to you. But you will find a new job, you will like it, or you’ll start your own business, or you’ll pursue a passion, the market will change again and things will feel very different. You are not defined by your job and this is just something to get through. It’ll be okay.

  80. Geekette*

    I work in tech, and I landed my first permanent full-time job mere months before the Great Recession. My company did what it could to minimize layoffs and let staffing levels shrink by attrition, but 7 years and two promotions later, my whole department was moved overseas where labour is cheaper. I got 14 weeks severance plus 30 days advance notice.

    My advice:
    – Look around job postings to see what skills/knowledge/technology other companies are looking for and do what you can to stay current on things you don’t use in your current position.
    – Make sure you can access your benefits outside of your work credentials. I was still on benefits for the duration of my severance period, but I didn’t have access to my work email.
    – Use up your benefits before they run out: Get new glasses, go see the dentist, etc.

  81. I'm Just Here for the Cats!!*

    My first job out of college the center in my city closed they let us know several months in advance but here are some tips:
    If you feel like your company may be doing layoffs and that you will be on the chopping block, (or if the company will be closing) I would start paring down items on your desk or office so that it’s easier to take with you if you come to work one day and find out it’s your last day. If anyone asks you can say you’re getting on the minimalism bandwagon.

    If you have coworkers that you would like to keep in contact with, or that you want to get references from get info sooner rather than later. Even if its just a personal email address. Put it in your personal contacts and don’t save it to something that could be taken away.

    If there’s anything that you can save that you would like to have for your self email it to yourself. For example, a previous job had given everyone professional headshots to use for their work email, LinkedIn etc. I REALLY liked that picture. I wish I had had the thought to send it to myself because when I was let go I was not able to getinto the computer and anything I had was gone.

    Make sure there is a clear idea of what items belong to you that you brought in and what items belong to the company. Did you bring in your own fancy pens, binders, chair? If this wasn’t noted before it should be now so the company can’t claim that it’s not yours.

    Think about any questions that you have about the logistics of being laid off. I wish I had thought about what happens with our PTO and if we are negative PTO when I was laid off. It was a HUGE shock to get only about$100 for my last 1 1/2 weeks because they charged me for the extra time off I took that I was not able to make up for in hours before they closed.
    So think about things like insurance, 401K or retirement funds, vacation balances, severances, and unemployment. Even things like how to access past pay stubs or your tax forms for the next year. These are all important things that you might not think about at the moment when you just found out you lost your job. Especially if you are not coming back the next day.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      > start paring down items on your desk or office so that it’s easier to take with you if you come to work one day and find out it’s your last day. If anyone asks you can say you’re getting on the minimalism bandwagon.

      If anyone asks, I’d just tell the truth. “I feel like layoffs are imminent so I’m clearing this out now so it’s less to move later if it happens”.

      1. I'm Just Here for the Cats!!*

        I was thinking of not saying anything if you felt like it could be between you and someone else. If bosses think you are already out the door it might make it easier to decide.

  82. Garlic Microwaver*

    3 times a charm here, thankfully before mortgage and kids

    -Schedule doctor appointments, yesterday, if you fear getting laid off. Many employers will terminate benefits same day, end of month if you’re lucky.
    -Gather stuff for portfolio, yesterday because your access will be cut off immediately.
    – Then all the obvious stuff everyone else mentioned

    1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Yeah when I was laid off it was on the last day of the month so no benefits (much less severance) as of the next day. They could have paid for a month of benefits, sheesh.

  83. Silicon Valley Girl*

    As a lifelong Gen X Silicon Valley tech worker, I’ve been through a lot of layoff seasons. The advice here is generally solid, but one thing missing is how layoffs affect those *not* laid-off. Sure, you still have your job, but it can feel extra precarious now, you may feel survivor’s guilt, it’s demoralizing & stressful.

    I recently coached some newer coworkers through this at my current company bec. they were pretty shocked by the layoff that happened & seeing friends lose their jobs. Acknowledge your feelings, talk about it with coworkers & others, don’t sweep it under the rug. It’s real & it’s normal.

    And maybe take this moment to update your own resume, LinkedIn, etc. An ounce of prevention…

    1. EMP*

      My company announced layoffs this week and it’s the first time I’ve been on either side of it. Thankfully I’m keeping my job, but you’re totally right – it feels weird, and we were all kind of looking at each other after the meeting like “we’re all still here, right?”

  84. irene adler*

    Sometimes the company offers services designed to assist folks in finding another job. Like resume writing/review, practice interviewing, etc.
    Take advantage but be wary. Know that these services may not offer up the best, most recent, advice. Especially with resume writing. They mean well. Vet their advice carefully.

    If your inner voice is saying, “But Alison says not to do that because…” then listen.

    (I took a job-hunting class offered by the local adult education facility. Better off spending that time with a deep dive here. They were not versed in what resumes, job hunting advice are about today. There was gumption!)

  85. Carrie*

    I would say try not to panic. I’ve faced redundancy twice in my career yet both times I managed to get a job straight away. One of the company’s I worked with was a Government agency which was disbanded so the whole company was made redundant. Everyone I knew picked up a job within months – some may have taken something which wasn’t their ideal job but continued looking until a more suitable role came along.

    It’s a horrible situation to be in though and have my sympathy.

  86. Tex*

    1. Make a list of adjacent industries you could apply to. If you are in tech (I am assuming software engineer right now), you and everybody else will be chasing after the few remaining jobs at the big tech companies. Instead, look at niche industries within large industries – for example, construction and energy are increasingly using AR applications by specialized software companies. Both, the clients and the software companies, are always working on integrating new technology with multiple existing software programs.

    2. Look at your finances and make a general timeline now with hard decisions. For example, if nothing materializes in 3 months, you will look into temp agencies. If nothing by 6 months, then you will give up your luxury single person apartment and move to a cheaper place/get a roommate/move home to your parents. The goal here is to not decimate your savings while waiting for a new job pops up (it will – eventually, it will feel like an eternity but it just may not be on your timeline.)

    3. Develop at least one good habit if you get laid off – exercise, home cooking, volunteering – that you can continue after you get a new job.

    4. DO NOT get a new pet – the expenses are quite a lot. Offer to walk other people’s dogs.

  87. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    If you can, grab some samples of your work to use when applying to new jobs. You may need to de-corporatize them (“file the serial numbers off,” as I call it) to remove protected information, but you can still showcase your skills.

  88. Fieldpoppy*

    Lots of great advice in here, concrete and otherwise. As an older Gen X who does a lot of coaching, I will say, remember that the years are short and your career is long. What feels catastrophic now will become part of a much bigger story over time. Industries will go through a lot of transformations in the three – five decades you are working. Stay flexible, don’t take it personally, continue to reflect on and prepare to talk about what you contribute to the workplace, don’t over-extend your spending and trust that you will find the next chapter. (Esp. if you follow Alison’s excellent advice).

  89. Sybil Writes*

    In my twenties, I joined the telecommunications industry right around the time of AT&T’s divestiture (1980s) and have been through multiple rounds of layoffs ever since. Actually heard the same management team make the same promise 3 times in a row, “We’re laying off 10% of the team now to avoid ever having to do it again.” It was a great motivator to save as much of my salary as possible and develop a philosophy of embracing change, eschewing fear, and trusting my ability to thrive. For me thriving has meant a combination of lifelong learning and skill development, willingness to work hard and willingness to delay gratification for short periods of time when necessary. Don’t take on the largest mortgage you can get; make sure you can save 6 months of payments or live off one partner’s income if one gets laid off. Do NOT lease a car; buy pre-owned for cash if possible. Once you pay off a car loan, don’t buy again until you can pay cash. Enjoy life, but don’t fall into the “only the best or newest will do” trap. Financial security/peace of mind is tied more closely to your habits and behaviors than the size of your paycheck. It really is. I know this won’t apply to people who are not making a living wage, but most people worried about getting laid off from tech jobs are making more than a living wage.

  90. Media Mouse*

    These are all timely information not only for the tech sector, but also a certain big house of mouse that is laying off people by the droves. We had our first “purge” so to speak last week and everyone is bracing for the supposed bloodbath that will happen some time this month (followed by a 3rd wave before June).

    All of these information are so helpful and I’m really grateful that everyone is able to come together like this.

    Some of my own advice since going through (but not laid off every 2 years we’ve had a “purge” here).
    – Don’t sugar coat things (especially management). But don’t also tank morale. Be honest and forthright. You may not have information, but you will keep everyone posted once things get rolling. However, don’t just force people to focus on their jobs either. Allow them space to inquire, gather their thoughts and ask questions. Things are not hunky-dory.
    – Ask after people – fellow co-workers or even team members. Everyone’s nervous, even those who’ve been through multiple rounds of layoffs and come through the other side after.
    – Prep, prep, prep. Those advice above of updating resume, sending out feelers, updating LinkedIn. All worth it. Prep, reach out to your networks. Be honest about the situation. Not only are they coping techniques, but they also have the benefit of networking too. Everyone is human.

  91. Layoff #5*

    I’ve been laid off….5 times in my career. Maybe 6. Some came with severance, some did not. None were due to complete industry collapse, but I haven’t stayed in any specific industry anyway.

    My tips:

    1. Review your budget. Slow or eliminate optional spending. Target a savings cushion of 3 months’ living expenses. For me, having that cushion meant I didn’t have to panic when I got the latest termination notice.
    2. Start networking now. The more people know that you’re open to a change, the better.
    3. Review your skillset. You may have defined yourself by your current role. Review ALL of what you do, and think about how it could be applied outside your current role or industry. I’m in marketing, so really flexible, and I still think about what makes me different from all the other marketers out there.
    4. Consider freelancing. This won’t work for all positions, but many roles or certain aspects of your role may be something you can shop around.
    5. It’s ok to be in your feelings about this. You couldn’t have done anything different, and you will survive this.
    Good luck!

  92. not a data engineer*

    I was laid off in January from my dream job at a tech startup. Things that helped me, or would have helped:

    1. Regularly meeting with a group of people in a similar situation. Someone else from my team set up a standing weekly zoom call for those of us who were laid off, and it’s been helpful for working through the aftermath, figuring out benefits, job search accountability, etc. as well as not fully losing the sense of community we had (obviously that varies by team/company culture, but ours was pretty tight-knit).

    2. Copying all performance reviews, other positive feedback, nice goodbye messages, etc. to somewhere I could access them. This has helped me market myself in cover letters and interviews, and looking back on it also gives me a nice ego boost when I’m struggling.

    3. Thinking about what I want my next career steps to be, and learning about different roles/paths. I wish I’d clearly been able to say “I’m looking for X or Y” in linkedin posts and my profile, informational interviews, networking chats, etc. so I could more effectively steer the types of referrals and recruiting I got. Exploration and self-discovery are great, but it’s also great if you can channel the initial momentum/sympathy/energy into a clear direction.

    (My ex-company used my job title to mean something different than what most of the field assumes it means, so I spent the first couple of months of my search trying to go down that road before realizing I should be taking a different approach.)

    4. Keep track of contacts, job applications, postings, etc. in whatever way works best for you. I was overwhelmed by emails, messages, and comments when I initially shared the news on LinkedIn and started reaching out to my network. I ended up with a spreadsheet of things to respond to (categorized by who, when, where, priority) which helped prevent me from unintentionally ghosting anyone. Keeping track of job applications and contacts can also be important when filing for unemployment.

    5. Routine. Depends on your financial and life situation, but when I can manage to stick to a limit on the time I spend doomscrolling linkedin and going down job board rabbit holes, I feel a lot better. Try to get out of the house and/or interact with people regularly if you were fully remote.

    6. It’s easier to find a therapist, counselor, or whatever mental health care *before* you hit a low point during/after a layoff (though unfortunately harder to afford one!).

  93. awasky*

    I was laid off in the financial crisis. It sucked. Don’t think there’s a way around that. I also don’t think there’s a way to layoff-proof yourself–those decisions are often made several layers above any manager that actually knows what you do all day.

    The above advice about updating resume and Linkedin is just a good idea in general. I’d also recommend creating an off-line contact list for yourself–it’s amazing how many people you talk to every day you suddenly don’t know how to reach when they take your computer.

  94. Lolllee*

    I was laid off after the 2008 recession. At the time I felt like I was a failure, worth less than my other coworkers who didn’t get laid off. I learned two important things. One, getting laid off didn’t ruin my career and when I told employees I was laid off, it didn’t seem to matter much to them. I think especially when it’s part of a big industry wide layoff it’s not viewed as a black mark on your employment record. I also later found out from people still employed at that company, how hard the layoffs were on them too even though they remained employed. I changed my perspective to one of new opportunity. When looking for a job during those leaner 2009 times, I widened my job search outside the narrower range that strictly applied to my experience and found a job closer to home in a similar roll in a different industry. If you do get laid off, its not the end it can be a begining. Lots of industries are still having trouble filling open positions. Mine is. Good luck!

  95. The one behind the sweater vest*

    I’ve been through multiple rounds of layoffs. I’ve survived some, and were victims of some.

    * If you haven’t been keeping account of accomplishments, start doing that. List what you did and the benefit it had.

    * I wouldn’t put a bunch of stress on being indispensable. If you’re pretty junior, then yes, that can help. But the higher-up you are, the more it’s all about your salary no matter what your skill-set is.

    * If you’ve taken any trainings, or gotten any designations, make sure you take stock of them all and list the potential benefit it brings to an employer.

    * If it happens, and I sincerely hope it doesn’t, know it is not about you. If it is you, don’t put any stock in the # of rounds you survived. I know the adage is, the first to go were the most dispensable, but the first to go often get the best severance and a head start on the job hunt. So it’s really a wash.

    When you look, really focus on governement and university jobs in your area. They are typically more stable, and since you are in tech, you can really go almost anywhere.

    Good luck!

  96. irene adler*

    Be wary of being vulnerable when the folks who- for a fee- offer to revamp your resume, LinkedIn, cover letter or what have you.

    1. The one behind the sweater vest*

      Yes, avoid the fee ones. I fell into that when I finished grad school a month to the day of the start of the 2008 recession. But it wouldn’t be a bad idea to skim other people’s linkedin and see which styles speak to you and mimic with your own experience.

  97. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

    I don’t know how helpful it is for OP, but the first time I was laid off, a friend told me “The first time is the hardest.” The second time I was laid off, I realized that he was right. The third time my employer did layoffs, I actually felt worse for surviving than I think I would have if I had been one of the ones laid off.

    1. Bah humbug*

      yes, I’ve seen that too. I’m on my 4th? 5th? and for most of my colleagues in my last job it was their first. Many of us are friends and it’s heartbreaking to see how hard they’re taking it.

  98. Hang In There!*

    If you are laid off:

    Re: unemployment. As others have said, file for benefits as soon as you know you’ll be out of a job. Research your state’s benefits to get details on what will be expected in order to get benefits. In my state and nearby states (not sure if this is universal), you have to provide documentation that you’ve applied to two jobs every week.

    In the tech field, two jobs a week will probably not be a stretch. When I was laid off, I was working in a very niche field, and I definitely held back an application or two until the next week, just so I’d have something to include in my weekly filing.

    It helps to keep busy, so work on those hobbies, do an online (free!) tutorial or two that you can really sink your teeth into – whatever you need to occupy the time, because it will stretch ahead of you from time to time. (I was in grad school part time when I got the axe, and boy did I throw myself into those homework assignments.)

    That said, allow yourself some “no pants, binge-watching Outlander (or whatever)” days to just kick back and breathe. You will need those, too.

  99. I edit everything*

    This is a little frivolous, but it did help when I worked for a tech company that was downsizing. They’d have morning all-staff meetings to announce that the next round of layoffs was coming (“This is the last one! We promise!”), and my department would always go out to lunch together afterward, usually to an Italian restaurant where we could eat comfort food and grouse without the bosses overhearing.

    It didn’t help us keep our jobs or find new ones, but it was helpful for morale, at least on a small scale.

    1. I edit everything*

      I will add: that was more than 20 years ago, and I left that job around the same time and moved away for grad school, and I’m still friends with a few of those lunch buddies.

  100. Podkayne*

    1. Pay down as much credit card debt as possible, if you have any.
    2. Make all of the medical and dental appointments, screenings, etc. for yourself and covered family members as soon as you can if you’re currently covered with decent insurance. Schedule any elective procedures you’ve been putting off.
    3. Buy extra supplies of your go-to nonperishables when you shop, while still employed. Canned, bottled, frozen.
    4. Pay off a vehicle, if possible, and change to liability insurance only.
    5. Be considerate of your childcare provider and alert them that they, too, may be affected by your layoff.
    6. Just generally speaking, kind of go into zombie apocalypse mode to get the creative “survival” juices going.
    7. Do the research now in the Affordable Healthcare Marketplace so you can look at your options and be prepared to make the most informed decision on a change.

  101. KK*

    The only advice I have is to update your resume, line up your references and don’t take it personally. After it’s done, go home and have a good cry & a comfort meal then dust yourself off and start over with the job search.

  102. tab*

    If you think you might be laid off: Update your LinkedIn profile, and make sure your contact information includes a personal email address. Reach out to everyone you every went to school with, worked with (as colleague, supplier or customer) and connect with them on LinkedIn. Join and get involved with your professional organization. If you are laid off, let your network know right away. It’s not something to be ashamed of, and the more people who know you are looking, the more opportunities you’ll hear about. Also, I found it very helpful to maintain a daily workout schedule. It gave structure to my days, helped me get in shape, and sleep better at night.

  103. Sue*

    In the event you are laid off, here’s my advice from having been there twice since 2008:
    1. Take the first 2 days after the event off, and feel how you feel.
    2. After those 2 days, you have a full time job. Whether that’s job searching, studying for a certification, applying to grad school, etc. etc. Full time jobs take 35-40 hours a week. Use them.
    3. Make sure you have something in your life with a schedule. Volunteer? Set up informational interviews in person? Drive your spouse to work?
    4. Use the time for something you like but haven’t had time for before. Large knitting project? Read Les Miserables? Train for a 5k?
    5. Diet/Exercise/Sleep/Stress. Track them. Manage for them. It can be a hard time.

  104. Educator*

    Great advice here! One other suggestion that I have not seen yet:

    You know those specific pieces of data that really make a resume pop? Things like “increased sales by 35%” and “brought in 237 new clients?” They are really hard to remember once you don’t have access to your company systems. Update the bragging data on your resume quarterly.

  105. Marilyn Wilson*

    There are a lot of great comments. Prep yourself and update your resume…and write down all of the special amazing things you’ve done at the current company to create your story while being interviewed.
    I talked to my boss and the regional boss in 2008 for references just in case and caught my boss up to date on projects and then every roughly every 2 weeks additional updates …in case.
    I lit up my network offering to pass along job tips I heard which netted me a nice referral from a friend of a friend so I left before the large cuts and just missed being layed off but if I could go back I would not have gone the extra mile before the last layoff to spend the time getting my act in gear sooner.

  106. me*

    1. bring personal things home that you don’t need for your job. during my layoff, I had boxes of stuff that I had to carry home on public transportation. also if you have work products that you would be allowed to share (for example, brochures that you created or writing samples that could be edited to remove confidential or proprietary information), start collecting those so you have a portfolio.
    2. update your resume and line up references. get personal contact information / linked in connections for people you want to keep in touch with
    3. be prepared to file for unemployment benefits, and contact your state rep if you have trouble accessing those benefits
    4. find and register with temp agencies, if applicable for your industry. in my industry, there are many short, medium, and long-term projects that temp agencies regularly send emails about. in pre-covid times, this was a great way to network with other people in my industry. it also paid much better than unemployment.
    5. look into options for freelancing in your industry
    6. if your company offers health benefits, make any appointments that you’ve been putting off now so that you’ll be covered for dental benefits or get that new pair of glasses or contacts refill while you’re still on the company’s policy.
    7. give yourself time to process emotions when it happens and, if you can, take some time in between to do non-work things

  107. Goldfeesh*

    Also remember, you can do everything right and be the top performer and still get laid off. It’s not you, it’s them.

  108. AP*

    – Use up all of your flexible spending now
    – If you already have a healthy financial cushion then max out on your 401k
    – Use this experience as a lesson so that you’ll be prepared next time you’re laid off

  109. 2003 all over again*

    BTDT. Layoffs were in the air but I thought my projects were secure. Went to my 30th high school reunion and came home to a voice message from a headhunter. Hmmm. Went to work on Monday, met with my techs to discuss the day’s work and had a call from my manager to meet at 9. At 9:15 I was back in my office packing my personal belongings. By 9:30 security was at my office to clean out all my filing cabinets and collect my computer and phone. They dumped 25 years of research into locked bins for shredding. They were not even going to pass the info on to whoever was left. 5000 people were let go that month. There were definitely not enough ‘good’ jobs open in the state to absorb that number of workers. Then the dominos started to fall. All the support personal from contracts were let go. Another 1000 jobs lost. My spouse and I took time to look around and decided to move after both of us finding local jobs that paid 25% of what we had made before. We could no longer afford our home. So, what should you do?

    Immediately cut your expenses, you need a buffer.
    Check out what kind of unemployment your state offers.
    Start looking for a new job. (No matter how nice your manager is they will not tell you if your job is secure or not.)
    COBRA insurance is horribly expensive. Check out the ACA marketplace.

    Really think about whether or not you want to stay in your profession. You may get retraining funds. If you have enough money put aside you might consider going back to school.

    We decided to work for ourselves. Unlike many of our peers we did not cash in our retirement funds to stay where we were. We took a big chance on ourselves and are happy we did.

    1. Mark the Herald*

      This is good advice but also a sad picture of the macroeconomics of a recession. The fed wanted layoffs and pushed to “cool” the labor market. People who are laid off go into survival mode, and people not laid off watch this and start cutting expenses too. The people who make the stuff they used to buy get laid off. It’s an ugly spiral. Keeps us all in our place, though.

  110. Fez Knots*

    My partner and I are both in tech/digital marketing roles and in our early-30s. My partner has been directly effected by recent lay-offs. The best thing we both did (which I don’t hear talked about enough!) is form individual LLCs and ignored all this work harder! advice.

    Both of us formed LLCs and corresponding websites/portfolios of our work and shifted from full-time expectations to FT and PT contract. The lay-offs are for FT folks, but the same companies continue to hire contract roles (I’ve interviewed for contract roles to replace FT employees, though I didn’t take it and since his lay-off in 2021, my partner has had two six-figure contract role with major tech companies). Contract is the way of the future in tech and advertising. There are a lot of downsides, I get it, but the pay is solid and an LLC helps legitimize your work from a financial and business stand point.

    Not only does an LLC makes working for yourself more legit, it offers serious tax benefits. You can set it all up while working FT or even PT, you don’t need to be in between roles or unemployed to do it. You’ll need an accountant you trust to help you manage taxes and year-end expenses. A lawyer friend helped us set the LLCs up, though that’s not necessary. It’s been helpful to have someone to turn to for questions.

    I’ve taken on several PT freelance roles under my LLC since leaving my full-time job in December and it’s the best decision I’ve ever. made. after years of career dissatisfaction. I make just as much (and sometime more) a month than when I worked FT and I’ve done almost nothing different.

    AND YES. To those of you insistent that you can’t work more than one role at once and do it well, you can. I do it every day and make damn good money doing it.

    All these commentators telling you to dig in and work harder! Give them more! Please, I beg of you, ignore this advice. From someone in their early-30s, working these roles (along with my partner) and living Silicon Valley-adjacent, that is ineffective, old school advice. These companies don’t have any reason to care about you as an individual at all. In fact, at his last job, my partner didn’t even have a direct supervisor. There’s no one there to “impress,” and the industry is volatile. Besides deciding that that kind of volatility isn’t for you, it’s the nature of our industry these days. You can’t “show your commitment” at Facebook at this point (we’ve worked there, we’ve tried).

    I think it’s a matter of shifting your mindset to what your career will look like moving forward and figuring out how to maximize your experience, independence and finances. It’s scary, trust me! I know! But it’s absolutely possible. I’m no longer at the mercy of unstable billionaires or tech giants and that feels great, lol.

  111. RedinSC*

    Oh, I went through both the dot bomb and 2009.

    In 2001 I was a young-ish manager having to reduce my team of 23 down, outsource to India and figure the whole thing out. We went through 3 rounds before I was the name on the list that I had created.

    The one thing, I would say is ground yourself. I was so completely wrapped up in my work identity that when I no longer had that job, I didn’t know who I was. It was startling to realize. I don’t know about other places, but in Silicon Valley, one of the first things people ask when you meet someone new is, “What do you do?” When I was laid off, I didn’t have an answer, I didn’t do anything except apply for jobs!!!!

    Well, you are still a whole and complete person, even without that job that you had previously, once you’re laid off. So lean into who you truly are, outside of work.

    Then on the practical side of things, it’s not bad to be looking around, right now at other opportunities. Look at your city and county government jobs. See about non profit jobs. Be prepared to take a paycut with any of those jobs, but they usually come with good benefits. Rework your budget AND apply for unemployment the moment you get any layoff paperwork.

    Good luck, I hope you’re not laid off.

  112. Here to learn*

    My spouse had 23 years in tech marketing and survived dozens of layoffs so we were a bit complacent, and then our turn came. He was out of work for 5 months and we have a big family.
    -Of course we cut frivolous expenses, but the big impact came from switching internet, car/home insurance, and cell phone providers. It took time to do research and paperwork, but we saved hundreds each month. Should have done it earlier.
    -Keep kids involved. Our teens with jobs suddenly had to cover all their phone, gas, insurance, and extracurricular expenses. They stepped up and learned valuable lessons about saving and wants vs. needs. Our kids who were too young to work helped conserve electricity and water, learned to cook, and found free entertainment. It brought us together.
    -We cut our food bill drastically but it took a lot of time to learn new ways to shop and eat, so start now without the stress. Make it a game. We joked about “peasant food dinners” and tried to see how cheaply we could eat. We baked all our bread. Bonus: it was healthier, and we didn’t notice much difference between the cheap hygiene and cleaning products and the fancy ones.
    -Acknowledge all the feelings. Lean on your supports. We kept quiet a long time because it felt embarrassing. That was silly. We were lucky to have extended family and a supportive church community who helped where they could. Now we look back and are grateful for the lessons and happy to have a good job again.

  113. Fez Knots*

    Oh I forgot! If you’re in advertising or content creation, don’t forget to save copies of your work! Use a USB while your work computer is offline and don’t email anything to yourself. Don’t share Google drives either, that’s traceable.

    Lots of companies don’t want you to take work with you, but I’ve never been able to secure a role without a dynamic portfolio. It’s a weird double standard that harms the everyday creative, but without your work you have nothing to show for it when you’re moving on. Be smart, but take with you what you can.

  114. Katefish*

    All mortgage lenders and many other creditors offer something called forbearance, which will allow you to skip payments if needed. You have to make up the payments later, and you may have a credit hit, but that’s helpful to know if need be and you’re laid off… doesn’t hurt to call and ask. For a mortgage lender, ask for the loss mitigation department.

  115. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    1. Always have your resume ready. Even in the best of times.
    2. Networking is important – critical. In the best of times, participate in professional groups.
    3. Things may look rosy, but never take anything for granted.
    4. Did I mention networking?
    5. Keep your contacts up on Linkedin, and other professional groups.
    6. If you are let go, remember that it’s always a good consolation to hang out with others in your same position – BUT – people who are out of work won’t help much in finding your next position. Network with people that ARE gainfully employed, as well.
    7. Get some professional advice, from those in your field, on keeping your resume spiffy. Those people are NOT necessarily those at the unemployment office.
    8. Did I say networking is critical?

  116. JustHerefortheCommentSection*

    I’ve been through this several times now, and while it doesn’t get easier, it does give you the experience needed to be prepared. I’d recommend:

    1. Update your resume at least twice a year (I’ve gotten in the habit of doing it quarterly).
    2. Maintain strong relationships with stakeholders, especially those who might be able to help you find another position in the event of job loss.
    3. Always be learning – take free courses that align with your position/job, and take advantage of offers from your company to expand your expertise.

    I’ve also learned how important it is to NOT overdo the application process. Create a schedule for not only applying for jobs, but also to give yourself breaks and time to work on personal projects. As much as it hurts and it’s scary, it is an opportunity to use the time to your own advantage. Best of luck, and I hope everything works out.

  117. Pauli*

    If you do get laid off, don’t wait to apply for unemployment. Do it right away. Most states have a waiting period before you can start receiving payments, where I live it’s a week, and you’ll want as much of that income as you can have since it will be less than what you’re making now.

    In general, make sure you don’t have any important personal documents or pictures that are only stored on your work computer. If you get laid off it’s very unlikely anyone will allow you access to your files again, even to retrieve personal items.

  118. Skippy*

    I’ve been laid off twice — once in 2007, and again in 2020.

    The number one piece of advice I have is to file for unemployment immediately. Depending on your state, it takes time to get into the system so the sooner you apply the sooner you can start collecting. Apply even if you don’t think you’ll qualify, or even if you received severance. You’re entitled to that money, so take it.

    The second piece of advice is to be gentle with yourself. There are lots of voices who will tell you this is somehow your fault, that only “bad” employees get laid off. This is both cruel and untrue and you should ignore them.

    My third piece of advice is to find ways to take time for yourself. Yes, you need to start looking for a job, but job searching isn’t a 24/7 affair, so be sure to find ways to do other things. Go for walks. Get a good book out of the library. Remind yourself that you are more than a worker bee.

    And finally: this too will end. It may seem as if you will never find anything, but you will find a way out somehow.

    Good luck!

  119. msVal*

    Been laid off 3x at various stages of my career. My suggestions:
    1. Before layoff: (NB–do NOT do any of this on work computer) get your resume together (have a Word version and a pdf–filling out applications via copy/paste vastly easier when done from a Word/similar doc), draft a cover letter (with at least some ‘boilerplate’ text that you can reuse as part of job-relevant cover letters), gather as many work samples as you can (can always edit after), evaluate your home computer situation and proceed accordingly, set job alerts on LinkedIn, sign up on Glassdoor, and update/clean up your LinkedIn profile (including checking setting on who can see what, and turn off any public notifications for the time being), bring home all personal effects from office (if you have one), get in habit of reading AAM daily
    2. Pay off/pay down as much as your credit card debt as possible (if any)
    3. If layoffs happen: do your best to hold it together at work. It’s a miserable situation and like you the ‘survivors’ don’t know what to do, so just do your best and get out as soon as you can
    4. Once home, cry, scream, call family/friends and vent, day drink or do whatever you need to feel the emotions. It’s scary, enraging, and any number of other feels, so I recommend giving yourself free rein to express them in your own space–vent and get it all out, right away
    5. The next day (or the subsequent Monday if midweek/similar), get up and get ready as if a regular work day.
    –Then get on figuring out what you need work-wise immediately–do you need *some income right now? Contact local establishments desperate for workers, like retail, food, etc.
    –Did you get severance/have a little breathing room? Finding your next role is your new job. Get on the job boards immediately, and start bookmarking prospective roles, during your normal work hours–taking regular lunch and coffee breaks and so forth (no TT rabbit holes, etc). Personally, I quickly skimmed/bookmarked roles in the morning, then after lunch would review in detail/decide what to apply for and then apply (having a base cover letter that you can customize for each role really useful for this).
    6. Had an interview but got rejected? I recommend wallowing in emotions for the rest of that day, then getting up fresh the next day and get back on it.
    7. Stay connected to your industry news-sign up for the same alerts/newsletters/etc as you may have had at old job. Attend relevant free webinars to keep up on latest, and so forth
    8. Stay connected to friends, family, other humans as much as possible. A good friend once recommended “going out every morning for a coffee/newspaper, just to get out of the house and maintain some feeling of ‘normal’ since you often feel anything but in this situation.” I concur–even something like walking out for mail is helpful.
    Good luck.

  120. Deirdre*

    In addition to some of the other comments:

    – make copies of all your job descriptions and performance reviews
    – identify people and potential references. Get their personal email addresses/phone numbers
    – update your LinkedIn profile (and do some posting/be active a little)
    – make sure you have everything out of your work email in case you are locked out
    – concur on spending. Save and be ready

  121. MountainGirl19*

    I was laid off twice in my healthcare career with the last one being an IT job (specifically informatics). Like you, I sensed it was coming so I mentally prepared for when the day came. It is hard not to take it personally, but it’s really not. It’s business, so try to remember that. It is not a reflection on you or your work. I brushed up on my resume, did some job searches, researched unemployment pay and short-term health benefit plans, and sent feelers out to my network (nurse managers, folks I met at conferences from other companies, etc.) beforehand to be ready. It helped me feel like I had more control of the situation so I was less stressed once it happened. If possible (and I understand sometimes it’s not), try to take some time off for at least a week or two after to process, chill out and reflect. Do something enjoyable even if just watching your favorite movies and eating ice cream during what would be a normal work day and think to yourself how glad you are you don’t have to deal with that horrible Jones account today lol if that helps :). I used my time after to spend time with my family, learn new recipes for dinner (I cooked a lot of new dishes during that time – my fam was very happy), take myself out for a walk/hike, went to the zoo just because, but I especially used that time to reflect on what I really wanted to do with the rest of my career. Did I want to keep going in IT/informatics? Did I want to go into management? Did I want to get a more chill job? Did I want to go back to school or get certain certifications? What can I afford to do? What can I afford not to do? That reflection led me to my current job as an RN case manager, which was a totally different direction from my entire career, and getting laid off ended up being the best thing that happened to me career-wise for a lot of reasons, plus I simply love this job. So don’t lose faith, there are so many directions to go. It may not look like what you planned initially, but you might be pleasantly surprised in the end :)

  122. Lily Potter*

    Are you one of those people with 1000+ contact cards typed into Outlook on your work computer? Do what you can to retrieve them now. If your system allows you to make an electronic backup, that will save you retyping them all. If not, save a printoff of the address book as a PDF and print as a hard copy, either early in the day or after most have gone home.

  123. 404_FoxNotFound*

    Another millenial here who has been through three layoffs and at least as many large upheaval inducing company merger/acquisitions.

    As a default course of action, I’ve found it essential to prioritize building and keeping a sizeable emergency/eff you money fund (6-9mo), as layoffs can and typically do happen with no notice and having the financial buffer is sanity saving, both in affording rent, and also not feeling pressured to take the first terrible job I come across that remotely might fit because of finances. If building up savings like that isn’t a feasible thing, consider what you will need to do with your budget and bills to not end up overwhelmed because of a lack of a plan when you’re already feeling thrown off.
    If you have others in your life that you support or live with, I also recommend making a plan and discussing priorities for if your finances suddenly change for the worse.

    Do a regular resume/portfolio/linkedin update, as you’re able. Noting recruiters and companies that may reach out to you, or coworkers in fields/companies that interest you is also useful for later.

    Definitely collect non-work contact information for coworkers as you go, as often times during layoffs access to company contacts is usually cut off abruptly, and even just saying goodbye can help everyone process. (Later on these are also helpful networking contacts.)

    If I am part of the crowd that isn’t laid off, I make it a priority to regularly update my resume, because (as others have commented) sometimes being part of the now understaffed team really sucks. (Sometimes having your position not be cut is really hard and stressful too.)

    Right after a layoff I’ll make a priority to set up and submit any health insurance or unemployment related paperwork, because the systems are slow, overloaded, and purposefully convoluted. I recommend documenting and saving confirmation numbers, setting reminders if you need them, and noting dates/locations that you’ve submitted whatever info because at least once the government organization took too long to process my info, and tried to penalize me for their delay/failure.

    If I have the money for it, I’ll prioritize therapy, and if not, make time and space to sleep extra and feel whatever feelings I need to process. Usually it’s a week or so before I feel less dazed and thrown off. Cut yourself some major slack on the emotions and self esteem front.
    As someone who is also neurodivergent/chronically ill, I find it very important to try to figure out new routines and habits and scripts as soon as I’m no longer floating about in a daze. It’ll be necessary in order to get to regularly applying to job applications, and also helps me stay out of a slow slide into depression or other mental health badness. (Seriously, even scripts for reaching out to a linkedin contact is something I’ve found useful!)
    Everyone’s a little different in how they react, so some may want to dive into something new, and others need time to rest, and that’s normal.

    The “why are you leaving X company?” question also suddenly becomes the easiest thing to answer: “Layoffs” pretty much covers it!

    All said, it’s hard to not take a layoff personally. Even a well intentioned, well run company still needs to prioritize it’s bottom line. Good news is that even as a layoff/job change is hard change, you get to prioritize yourself, too.

  124. Nervous New Grad*

    I actually was affected by the massive tech layoffs going around rather recently, I was let go for the first time in my career at the start of December last year and only just started a new position a couple weeks ago.
    I will start off by saying it’s good to be able to prepare for layoffs if you know they’re coming! But sadly not everyone can prepare. You don’t always know it’s coming. In my case, even though there are so many layoffs going around, I thought my company was safe and was completely blindsided when I went in for what I thought was a routine one-on-one with my boss only to instead be told I no longer have a job and all of my company accounts would be shut down within the hour. It was really shocking and sudden. I was in the middle of working on a big project. I was supposed to have a meeting with the stakeholders the following week. I wasn’t able to prepare.
    That said, I was extremely lucky in that I have a good support network and financial safety net.
    The following is all just some notes off the top of my head based off my own personal experience dealing with being laid off the past few months, so it’s what worked for me:
    – polish up your resume, LinkedIn, portfolio, and ask for help in any other professional networks/communities you’re in. I actually was really amazed at how much support I got on LinkedIn and within my professional networks. People reshared my posts expressing I was looking for a new job, people privately contacted me checking in on how I was and offering job leads and referrals, and that really gave me a big boost of confidence and positivity in a time I was struggling to stay confident in myself.
    – Apply for unemployment benefits right away. I wasn’t able to receive any until after the period of my severance, but it was good to get in the system and severance and unemployment were literally my only source of income while I looked for a new job. Something I’ve seen others mention too, is to be prepared for the dip in income – the unemployment was significantly less than what I was making at my job so even though I did have a savings cushion, I cut back a lot on my spending habits during this time.
    – Don’t take it personally. It’s of course extremely upsetting when it happens, but don’t let it reflect on your self-worth – I know the industry I’m in can be a volatile one, and given the number of people that were cut you can’t tell me a single one of them wasn’t a high performer. Life is just like that sometimes! It doesn’t mean you did anything wrong. It’s a lot easier if you are able to accept it and look for what’s next.
    – Find the people who will support you, or take the space for yourself as needed. In my case the hardest part was actually that some of my close family members (who I live with) took it a lot worse than I did, and I became a lot more depressed by what I know was them projecting some of their own insecurities and anxieties about the situation manifesting as an apparent lack of faith in me and my ability to find a job, than the actual layoff itself.
    – Give yourself a routine and some small, achievable goals. My daily routine got completely destroyed with no more work schedule and it was really hard to actually be productive despite my sudden amount of free time. But, I set the goal for myself to apply for at least one job a day. I also made an effort to try and work through some online coding courses daily so I could brush up on my skills. It was really important to feel like I was making some kind of progress and at least accomplishing something every day, and giving myself small and manageable goals like this helped me stay on top of things a little easier. Basically, focus on the things you can control.
    – Keep track of all the new jobs you apply for. I kept a spreadsheet for mine, and kept track of things like the date I applied and the date I heard back, if I got rejected, dates of interviews, and sometimes even the job id if I was applying to multiple positions in the same company. This is both useful in your job hunt itself of course and for filing unemployment claims (they usually require you to report some amount of job-hunting activity to prove you are actively looking). Added bonus it’s also great just for giving me a better big-picture sense of what to expect in job hunting timelines overall.

    1. Bah humbug*

      Adding to this great advice (if I may) – keep the details of each jd you apply for, along with a note of the salary range if you have it. It will really help if you get an interview, by which time this info may no longer be available.

  125. Bend & Snap*

    I’m in tech and was laid off a year ago. Since the mass big tech layoffs started I haven’t had a single interview, whereas I had a good hit rate before. There are just so many people looking, especially on recruiting and DEI.

    My best advice is to anticipate and plan for financial disaster and long-term unemployment.

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      My best advice would be, find someone in your specialty to review your resume (NOT the unemployment office) , and people in your network who ARE getting nibbles.

      Do not restrict your search geographically.

  126. I have RBF*

    I’ve been through many layoffs. Seems like every eight to ten years there is a tech slump, and I’ve been in tech off and on since the 80s.


    A. Always, always have an “Oh Sh*t!” fund. Ideally you would have six months of full bills in it, but even one month helps. Remember to include money for COBRA in it, or you can be in for a nasty shock (My COBRA during the 2008-9 downturn was ~$1500/month)

    B. Make a list of the expenses you can cut, and cut them as soon as you are laid off. Every dollar that you don’t spend helps.

    C. If you have the ability, get unemployment insurance on your credit cards. Tech is prone to a lot of “Oh, everyone’s doing layoffs, we should too!” Use it if you are laid off.

    D. Make sure you have a “deep pantry” of non-perishable food, especially staples. In both the 2000-2001 recession and the 2008-2009 recession most of my food was from my stored food. Sure, powdered eggs don’t taste as good, but they are better than nothing. Even if it’s just a bucket of rice and a bucket of beans, it can help stretch your food budget. Plus it helps in natural disasters too.

    E. Make a list of assets you can liquidate. Top of the list is RSUs that you haven’t diversified. Bottom of the list is your 401k. In between is luxury stuff that you can resell, but it’s hard to get much money doing this. Don’t start liquidating until you have to.

    F. Keep your resume up to date. This includes maintaining contacts with your references. If you are at a company that seems to be planning layoffs, start to become familiar with the job market, maybe even start interviewing. It’s better to jump into your own life raft than be thrown overboard.

    G. If you get laid off, do apply for unemployment. In some states it’s barely a fraction of your full pay at the maximum, but it’s better than nothing. Every dollar in helps.

    H. Triage your remaining bills. Stop driving your car for non-essential trips. Cut out all of your eating out and “entertainment”. Make a list, in priority order, of what bills get paid first. Usually, the order should be:
    1. Rent/Mortgage
    2. Essential utilities (power, water, garbage, basic internet.)
    3. COBRA/Health Insurance
    4. Basic food budget
    5. Credit cards
    6. Everything else

    I. For entertainment, pick up the hobbies that you set on a shelf when you were working. Get a library card, and read books. Get a day pass for your local transit, and ride around to see the city.

    J. Decide what you want to do next. Make a list of the types of positions your experience fits with. Research companies and salaries. Have a “top five” things you want in your new job: remote/hybrid and/or maximum commute distance, small/medium/large company, pay range, benefits that you consider essential (eg vacation, health insurance, etc.), type of work, culture, on-call or not, etc.

    K. Apply for five to ten jobs a week when you are unemployed. Yes, it seems like a lot, but it’s your full time job to look for a job. Last time I was unemployed, I had anywhere from one to seven! phone screens/interviews a day during weeks where I was looking hard. You can take a day here and there as “downtime” to refresh and recharge.

    L. Do use Alison’s handy advice about cover letters, resumes, interviewing and salary negotiation. Don’t pay a resume service for anything – they are a scam. Don’t assume that people will call you back. Don’t expect companies to be respectful of your time.

    M. Keep reading industry newsletters to keep up. Think about buying a year of courses at something like LinkIn Learning or UJdemy, and do at least one a week. The tech industry can change like the wind. You need to keep current, or you’ll end up frozen out.

    To give you a bit of historical reference: I had a layoff a year between 1982 and 1985, and averaging every other year since then. I got hit by the “Dot Bomb”, the “Great Recession”, and the “Covid Crash”. I have actually lost count of how many layoffs I’ve been through. As someone who is AFAB, over 40, and disabled in tech, I’m often last hired and first fired if there’s any financial ill wind.

    Remember, your job does not define you – it’s just something you do for money. If you get used to this mindset before layoffs happen, it can soften the blow to your self image that often comes with layoffs.

    Layoffs are not fun, but ultimately, they aren’t about you, they are about the way capitalism demands “continuous growth and profits”, but realistically those aren’t actually possible, so companies rise and fall or have to reset their expectations. Yes, the workers get screwed. Until we have strong tech unions and a good solid safety net, workers will always bear the brunt of management and stockholder profit taking and risk avoidance. Plan accordingly. Corporations are only loyal to their bottom line. You need to be loyal to yours, not theirs.

    Sorry about the wall of text.

  127. Daydreamer*

    1. Always keep an updated resume, even if you think you will never be laid off.
    2. If you have the kind of job where a portfolio is important, be sure to keep files you want for that somewhere other than your work computer.
    3. Never tie too much of your identity to your job. It can be an important thing about you but it should not be THE thing about you. That distinction can be very good for your mental health after a layoff.

    1. Bah humbug*

      number 3 is something I’m really struggling with atm (laid off a couple of months ago). like, how does anyone have an identity outside of full-time work? When I work full-time, it’s a question of surviving the work and the commute as best I can during the week, then collapsing in exhaustion for the weekend.

      As a direct result, I’m now really struggling being unemployed because I just don’t know how! Part of me is terrified of enjoying it, because I’ll just have to give up my new hobbies when I get the next job. Another part of me doesn’t know how to make this time bearable, and the rest of me is just running in circles screaming in terror.

  128. the cat ears*

    Right now I’m working on rebuilding some of the work projects I’m particularly proud of on my personal github. It’s not identical – llama grooming appointments get changed to chocolate teapot design appointments in the new app – but it helps solve the problem of not being able to show off your work because it’s all behind a paywall or on internal projects.

  129. Crazy Flying Fish*

    This is happened to me twice. The first time was after I had been at a company over 20 years. It came as a complete surprise that our facility was being shut down and 300 people lost jobs. Being somewhat older, and worried about my prospects of being hired somewhere new at my age, I jumped at the first job offer I received. I was miserable there but stuck it out for almost a decade.

    Last year, I was laid off from this same miserable job , but I had several months notice. Once I knew I was once again going to be unemployed – and now I was even older! – I started job searching and immediately lined up an offer to start the Monday after my lay off date. This job did not really thrill me, the benefits were awful , and I just didn’t have a good feeling about it. So after much soul searching, I ended up declining the offer. It took about 6 weeks but I found where I belonged, in a job with supportive colleagues and work I love. I plan to retire from this current company in about 5 years.

    Lessons learned:

    * Don’t under value yourself because of your age. There’s a lot of companies out there who place a premium on experience.

    *Pay attention to red flags! The job after the first layoff only interviewed me for about 15 minutes and they made me an offer on the spot. I had concerns but I ignored them.

    * Don’t take a new job (just to have a job) with the intention to continue interviewing. You run the risk of staying in a horrible situation. (Obviously, if there’s an immediate need for financial reasons you may not have any choice.) In both cases, I was lucky enough to have been given very generous severance packages, but I realize that’s not always the case!

    * If you have some notice, save as much money as you can. You would be shocked how much money you can save by cutting out things that are not absolutely essential.

    * While you’re on layoff, try to set up a schedule for yourself during the same hours you would be working. For example, during the 6 weeks I was off I had something scheduled to do every single day Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. This of course included interviews and sending out resumes, but it also included tackling some household projects that had been needing attention for years. As part of this, I was up and dressed every single day. It gave me a purpose and kept me focused.

    * Do your best not to start playing mind games with yourself! Stop the mind merry-go-round that says you’re too old. Or you’re too young. Or you don’t have the right degree, or you don’t have a degree at all. Or you’re too fat. Or you’re too skinny. And so on. I think it’s a trap that all of us fall into. Just remember that you were employed as you are , so why wouldn’t someone else want to hire you!

    I want to offer the best of luck to everyone in this situation!

  130. Bah humbug*

    I have a question of my own for the readership on this subject. I have read that it takes on average 1 month of job searching for every $10,000 in the desired salary, so if you’re looking for a $100k job expect it to take 10 months. Does anyone know if there’s any truth to this pearl of internet wisdom?

    1. I have RBF*

      That’s about right. It can be shorter or longer, though, depending on your age and experience level.

    2. MakeSportForOurNeighbors*

      I think it’s more about seniority, which often (but not always) correlates. An executive’s job search can easily take 10 months to over a year even in a good market. A software engineer may make a salary of over $100k but find work within a couple of months.

    3. Lucky Meas*

      That doesn’t even make sense. If someone with a 100k job quits and it’s a critical role, companies want to hire as soon as possible. Why would they wait multiple months just because it’s a higher paid role? Even “average” paid jobs in the 30-60k range don’t always take 3-6 months (could be shorter or longer), and if they do it’s not because of the salary.

    4. alienor*

      I make more than $100k, and the last time I got a new job, it was four months from starting to look/apply to my first day at the new company. (For context, I applied to 15 jobs, interviewed for 5, and received 3 offers.) This was in 2021 when the job market was different than it is now, but it didn’t take anywhere near as long as that rule of thumb would indicate.

  131. MakeSportForOurNeighbors*

    I know so many people who used their work email addresses for their health insurance and 401k and then lost access to their accounts. Switch those over now.

    This one might seem silly compared to losing your livelihood, but I had a coworker who had covered their work laptop in stickers they’d collected from their travels, and they were so sad to lose those stickers when they had to turn in their laptop.

    If you don’t already, make a note of all of the compliments and kudos people have shared about you. Even if you can’t use them on your resume, it’s nice to look back on them and realize that you are awesome, especially on days when the job searching is rough.

    Other people have said it better than I, but it’s worth reiterating: It’s really not you. I’ve seen HR compile the layoff list based entirely on grade level. (We have to get rid of 24% of grade 5 engineers and 70% of grade 7 program managers – that kind of thing.) They didn’t consult managers and had no idea who was a top performer. They chose mostly at random (though a few “problem people” also disappeared in the layoffs).

  132. Porchgal*

    I’ve been laid off twice. The first time, the company decided to close our entire department/line of business during an economic downturn. A few years later I was working part time for a financial services company. That company lost a lot of clients due to malfeasance by some top executives that became public knowledge. To cut costs, they laid off all part-timers. Obviously neither was my fault, but it still felt personal.

    Fast forward a few decades, and my husband was laid off at the age of 57 after 34 years with his company, when his entire group was eliminated in the first wave of what became a company-wide “right-sizing.” Fortunately he got a generous severance package. After a year and a half of frustrating job hunting during COVID, he was re-hired by his former company – at a 30% pay cut.

    Being laid off teaches you that your job is not your life. Your company does not love you. You make a business deal with the company to trade your time and energy for a salary. Being laid off frees you to remember what really matters and what’s worth sacrificing for – your family and close friends. In our case, it put our values back in focus, and now we plan to retire 5 years earlier that we had previously planned. Life is too short to give up vacations and time with loved ones.

  133. Book Diva*

    I was laid off in the last recession, 2011. Here’s what I should have done pre-layoff: Added all work contacts to my personal address book/contacts. (Make sure to go through work emails. Sometimes we forget to add people to our contacts overall!) Updated my LinkedIn contacts based on those work contacts. Saved annual performance reviews–they’re perfect for updating your resume. Gathered any other success stories (increasing productivity, decreasing costs, number of teapot designs worked on year-over-year) so you have them for those resume updates.

    I was REALLY LUCKY that my husband had terrific health benefits, I had a decent severance package, and unemployment was paid out for two years. To pay the bills, I held many part-time gigs:
    Freelance writing through business contacts
    Worked as a part-time restaurant hostess (didn’t go on my resume)
    Worked as a part-time data-entry clerk/ convention planner (didn’t go on my resume)
    Was a consultant for companies in my industry
    Applied for every job that was remotely applicable to my skill set

    It took me five years to get another full-time job in my industry. Here’s what I learned post-layoff: If you can, take some time to decompress before your job search–even if it’s just a week. (People can smell desperation a mile away, and it won’t help you.) The right job will come along when you least expect it. (We were literally one month away from running out of enough money to pay our basic bills.) You will end up in a better job/title/salary. When you get totally overwhelmed or have been rejected for the umpteenth time, do something that gives you a sense of accomplishment and doesn’t cost any money. (I cleaned out junk in my house, polished silver, donated old clothing.) Talk to EVERYONE! You never know who will lead you to that next opportunity. Always apply to a job through the company website, not third-party links (even LinkedIn). Write down the username/passwords you use to apply on company websites–odds are, you’ll use them again. DON’T DESPAIR. It will be okay, eventually, I promise.

  134. Love to WFH*

    The list of people to be laid off is often compiled quite high up the management structure, so there’s no way to assure that you won’t be on it based on your hard work and skills. The criteria used may be unrelated to the individual people — they just cut a department or a project.

    I’m only familiar with the situation in the US, but here:
    – Apply for Unemployment compensation immediately, regardless of what your severance package might be.
    – Either get added to your partner’s insurance, or sign up for medial insurance through the ACA website in your state immediately. With your income now dropped, you may find that you get a good subsidy.

    Were people that you like and respect laid off, too? Contact them, and get together. Give each other moral support, and practical help with reviewing resumes and LinkedIn profiles.

    When I was laid off some time ago, I got in touch with friends who were free during the day, and we had a weekly meetup on a weekday afternoon to craft and chat. It really helped my state of mind. I also went to the gym every day, and did a ton of gardening.

    Your Unemployment office may have resources you can use. Mine was pretty worthless for tech jobs, though.

    I’ve worked in tech for a long time, and been laid off twice (so far). One time, I got into a similar job fairly quickly. The other time I was trying to find a management job, and didn’t have much luck. I finally took a contracting gig at a lower level, and actually enjoyed it a lot. I left it for a manager job in about a year.

    As in everything in life, the best thing to do is to plan ahead, which I realize is VERY annoying to hear. Now that young tech workers have seen how the ugly cycle can go, when you’re working again, try to put a rainy day fund aside. Keep it strictly separate from saving for vacations, etc. I’m definitely not frugal in all things, but I don’t have a car loan — I’m driving a 17-year-old Toyota Prius.

  135. ReallyBadPerson*

    The week you are laid off, do some cheap home improvement project, like painting a room, organizing a closet, or planting a garden. It will take your mind off of your situation and make you feel competent at something.

  136. Corporate Goth*

    Also, consider looking into strategic shopping. I’m definitely *not* saying spend money you don’t have or on things you won’t use. Strategic shopping means spending smartly, especially if you have the money now but might not later for thing you’re guaranteed to use.

    Think you’ll need an interview suit? Lots of sales around fancy events like Easter or graduation; find a classic style and keep an eye on prices so you can identify a good sale.

    Bake or cook a lot? Lots of pre-Easter grocery sales right now on items that will keep like jarred gravy or box stuffing, June is national dairy month, and butter freezes just fine. A lot of fresh foods (chopped peppers, onions, fruit, meat) will last significantly longer in the freezer if vacuum sealed.

    It does have a dependency on storage room, extra funds now, and enough prep time to do it carefully, but it’s a nice buffer against sticker shock or job loss if you can do it.

  137. No name yet*

    I don’t know if it’s relevant in Europe, but in the US, make sure you know whether the “severance” you are getting is truly severance or payment for a release of legal claims. Many companies will condition severance on you signing away your right to sue them for discrimination, etc, and that is often not legally considered severance, which can impact whether you are eligible for unemployment or not. I was laid off in the 2008-09 recession and got four weeks of “severance,” which the unemployment office tried to use to delay my entitlement to unemployment. I appealed and sent them the agreement I signed and was awarded back benefits to the date of separation because the payment was conditioned on my agreement not to sue. IOW, not severance.

  138. capitalism stinks but it's what we have*

    Tech executive here. I was laid off in October (silicon valley tech company that was trying to do it “quietly” and avoid the headlines). I haven’t had the chance to read all of the advice above, but I have some practical things to think through (so apologies if they are covered above):

    * Do you have your work email attached as a login to anything on the web? Change the email and password to personal email / new password now while you still have access
    * Do you access work stuff from your phone? Do they have any work MDM (mobile device management) software installed or do you have a work phone? MAKE SURE you have important contact information (phone numbers and email addresses) saved somewhere else. I have seen so many instances of MDM software and other stuff not allowing contacts to move over correctly
    * Make sure any personal files you have on your work device are moved to your personal device (and in general don’t keep personal stuff on work devices as much as possible).
    * If you are on a visa, get all of your paperwork in order
    * Get copies of your last 18 months of pay stubs. Especially with a small company you may not be able to access them when needed
    * In my state (California), they will only pay unemployment back to the date you file (not your last day of work). So don’t delay
    * Practice talking about “I was laid off because the company was (moving work out of state, changing to a different product, out of funding, whatever).” THIS IS NOT SHAMEFUL, but it can still be hard to talk about it. It may also help you to find a way to own the narrative of why you left. e.g. “I took the opportunity to negotiate a package as the company was trying to move headcount out of Silicon Valley”
    * Stay on top of Every. Single. Item. the company owes you. My Fortune 500 company made several errors I had to follow up on and get corrected
    * Make sure you have phone numbers of HR to call to follow up on stuff if you need to.
    * Before signing anything, especially if you think there is anything hinky, talk to an employment lawyer. My consultation was free and she was very open about what we could likely achieve. It ended up being a great investment for me (I doubled the amount of time I remained on payroll, and was able to hit another stock vesting cliff).
    * Make sure you have written down specific metrics that you have helped drive (it’s amazing how quickly the details get fuzzy when “I saved $2M annually by reworking X processes into Y blah blah blah” was your whole focus for years)
    * During your job search, any potential manager who looks down at you because you were laid off is either naive, a jerk, or both. It may mean you have to work for them for a while because of your situation, but it is definitely helpful to know.

  139. Econobiker*

    If you know the layoff is coming, use up the maximum FSA funds available as you elected even if you haven’t paid that much into it.
    we always max out our FSA sooooo… here’s what happened in prior job. November 2019 old job says shutting down my remote company division and absorbing factory workers into main factories by February 28, 2020 To get my severance my final day would be April 1, 2020 for engineering and administration like me finishing cleaningup facilities for hand over either to landlords or sublet business tenants. (yeah 4/1/20! ) So between January 1 2020 and March 31, 2020 I only paid in 1/4 of my FSA contribution but we maxed that sucker out to the tune of the approximately $2650ish. My teen son alone needed $1800 in dental work in February so BOOM spent. Then we stocked up on various items and pulled forward on anything we could per Rx or over the counter meds and eyeglasses. I think that we left less than $30 in our account unable to be spent. Completely legal just like them taking your FSA money which you’ve left UNSPENT at the end of the year.

    Myself and 2 others applied for unemployment VIA our COMPANY LAPTOPS 2nd to last day of last week in March 2020 prior to IT Dept pulling servers out of our closet the next day and collecting our laptops, monitors, desk phones and company cellular phones. And of course we checked the “layoff due to Covid 19” box on our state unemployment system website because we gambled that we could given everything going on.
    Anyway the next week the entire company’s big factories shut down for a month so us 3 people got pulled along for the Covid pandemic unemployment situation ride +$600. I used the extra $600 completely until it stopped in August having secured a new job mid July.

    And we 3 laid off leftovers got our 5 figure company severance packages too… Because of the unemployment bump and stimulus checks and my wife’s 20+ years work at home job plus our teen children’s social security benefits from their mother’s death we survived decently.
    Ny wife and I saved my severance money and used it for once in a lifetime travel to Italy in fall of 2021 on a heavily discounted food tour! yeah!

    Did I mention that part of the stuff I cleaned out from old company’s facility were rubber gloves and unused spray bottles and a couple of 5 gallon bulk bottles of 99% alcohol plus at home I’d had medical masks leftover from a bulk purchase in 2017 due to a medical condition? Couldn’t ship the alcohol bottles back due to regulatory problems in truck manifests so it went to my garage and covid sanitizing…

    Worst of times for all, best of times for some…

  140. Inkognyto*

    1) If you can build an emergency fund to cover 3-6 months of wages (not cutting back expenses) do it
    2) Sometimes it doesn’t matter how good you are, it’s someone has go from the dept.
    3) Update the resume
    4) update LinkedIn – Do not make this as exact copy of your resume. My resume is 1.5 pages. My LinkedIn is everything, more details and more skill areas that I cannot fit on my resume, but also generates a lot of interest.
    5) Network, you want as many contacts in as many areas as you can within your company and others. You will find jobs through people as much as applying, it can by-pass the systems.

    I was laid off in 2018. From a major HR company. Said company acquires a lot of other companies. Every year they had a round of layoffs from all of the other companies to reduce headcount. I never thought much of the annual “there’s no one from out dept being lost” until 2018, when I was the one in a immediate meeting called by my mgr and HR (literally 15 minutes before another meeting).

    Mine was one of them that they wanted for a certain service/product. I think that the product didn’t make as much $ as they thought. They sold it after 5 years. After the deal was finialized those that didn’t go with the new dept were let go.

    I was one of the IT Secrurity admins for that product stack, but had for years been doing 95% of my work with the main company IT Security team.

    I wasn’t the only one let go but so was another person the other person in this group. I got 21 weeks servence, and it was during a rough period to find jobs.

    However since then, this it’s actually one of the better things to happen to me despite it taking over 1.5 years to get back into my field. I was too stagnant in floating around in that job, and I was majorly underpaid. I have a certification that helps increase my demand, and will keep me in the pay range I can enjoy.

  141. loremipsum*

    I prepared for layoffs my entire career. If you work in journalism for any length of time, you will be laid off. I joined professional associations, participated in online discussions, became a board member, speaker and volunteer – those are all great things to have on a resume as well. Fellow members can become references for you, and I gave many over the years to my professional peers who served with me.

    I took courses in another field so I knew what applications and terminology was used in that industry.

    Employees who like to teach others, and learn, are attractive candidates.

    I read job descriptions constantly to see what I need to know or how to make my skills stand out.

    After five rounds of layoffs at our company over ten years, a sixth was signalled around Thanksgiving and I went into overdrive with applications, blowing dust off the LinkedIn profile and the resumes. In February my manager asked me to come to the boss’ office and I knew that was it. I could have left that day, but they said I could stay for three months until the end of the fiscal year. I spent a lot of time exporting messages and work products to my Dropbox, applying for jobs, and booked the longest vacation I had ever been on in years.

    I took advantage of the outplacement programs that our company offered, and received a call for an interview while I was at one of the sessions. I was hired within a month. Because I had been at the company so long, I received a generous severance – a week’s salary for each year I had been there. I went into another sector where I could apply my skills. And earning two paychecks for twenty weeks was great! Looking back on it, I wish I had taken more time off though.

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Amen, bro or sis …. amen! Professional orgs, willingness to teach, authoring professional documents — all play in your favor.

      I did all that in my IS/IT career. I am happily retired at 71 and have been for two years now.

      BUT – believe it or not, I still get calls and e-mails = Wanna go back to work?

  142. Tupelohoney*

    I have been laid off multiple times in my career, working in NYC after 9/11 and land development during the housing crash. The silver lining to these layoffs is I became more willing to take career risks that have paid off financially and in terms of job satisfaction—after my last layoff in 2018 I switched industries and doubled my salary. Layoffs also forced me to second guess how much my feelings of self worth were tied to my professional life such that I now have a much healthier outlook and appreciate my work without tying it to my ego as much.

  143. Nellie*

    Can we have a thread like this but for managers who know they’re going to have to lay somebody (or multiple somebodies) off?

  144. Anon for this*

    It’s important to tailor any financial changes to your unique situation. A lot of financial advice is geared toward the medium or long term, and some of the advice here could take several months or longer before it makes a real difference. For example, if you have high credit card debt, a few months worth of higher payments might not make a big difference in the short term, and if you also don’t have much in savings it might be better for you to focus on building up savings and not worry about your credit cards (for now). BUT, if you already have savings and your credit card balances are low, it might be smarter to pay them down. When deciding how to handle finances, try to balance short term needs in case of a layoff, without sacrificing your long-term financial health. What that means in practice looks different for everyone.

    A couple more ideas I haven’t seen yet:
    * Reduce your 401k contributions and divert that money into more liquid savings. If you can, contribute just enough on your 401k to get the company match (but if your savings are very low, you could decide to forgo the match and focus on building that up in the short-term).

    * If your savings account pays virtually no interest, transfer it to a credit union, online bank, money market account, or somewhere else offering a decent rate. Some banks are currently offering savings account interest over 3%, which means you could be earning a few $ a month even with a low balance.

  145. Eirishis*

    I was part of lay offs in two different organizations within two years. My biggest advice to anyone – people remember you for how you leave.

    At Org 1, I survived but watched as some stomped their feet, demanded severance right away, wanted to negotiate a unique separation agreement – blah. Meanwhile, my VP shared that she had been cut with our department with grace and dignity and said she would continue to provide us with as much support as she could for her remaining weeks – and is still considered a legend.

    when my number was called at Org 2, I remembered that, and continued to work hard and take on challenges, and I got some pretty excellent references out of it that helped me land a promotion elsewhere.

  146. Under Nondisclosure*

    I’ve just been laid off for the fifth time (this time with a 3-month waiting period) and made it through the previous dot-bomb decades , so I have many thoughts:

    Layoffs can happen any time so be prepared.

    They often come from above and managers may not have that much choice about who to lay off. I’ve been in a layoff where the top 15% by salary were laid off and in two layoffs where an entire team was laid off, direct manager included. It’s great to be a high performer and not a bad idea to make sure that your boss’s boss knows who you are, but it might not protect you.

    Make choices that get you meeting people in other areas of the company, and in other companies. In a large company, consider getting involved with some internal mentoring or social action group. Try to go to conferences. Locally, look for user groups or meetups that relate to your interests . Online, see if there are places where you can make a useful contribution. You never know who you’ll meet.

    Always be prepared to lose access to all of your work devices without any warning.

    If you rely on a work computer or phone, get in the habit of making copies of your schedule and personal contacts. Don’t keep anything on your devices that you would miss, like recent photos or personal notes. Have a habit of keeping all that, or a copy of it, on your own computer or personal cloud account.

    Within the bounds of company policy, if there’s anything you’d want as part of your portfolio, make sure you have a copy of it.

    Don’t keep anything on your work computer that you wouldn’t want your company to read.
    Not just talking about obvious stuff like porn – think about emails, old chat logs, medical notes, cached passwords to your personal accounts, browser history. I’ve heard more than one horror story about someone using a found password to a personal account.

    Tech folks – if you have any certifications make sure you can get proof of them without access to your work email.

    Keep your resume up to date. As you have work accomplishments or milestones, make a note of them. It’s hard to pull that together when you are reeling. And , much harder to do when you can’t access your email or notes.

    Don’t rush into job hunting, especially if you are upset. Take a little time to catch your breath. You need to be able to speak calmly and positively about your last job, and to think clearly about what you want to do next.

    Outplacement services vary wildly in quality. Take what you can from them. They can be good sources of emotional support. Get people in your *exact* field to proofread your resume; they will catch what others miss.

    See if there’s a group for former employees, on Slack or Discord or Facebook. If there isn’t, consider starting one. Over the years, ex-employee groups have been a terrific source of referrals.

    Whatever you do, don’t badmouth your ex-employer. That gets around. And even if it doesn’t, anger and bitterness are a bad look. Be very careful posting for the first few weeks as it may come back to haunt you.

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