How to Cope with Being Laid Off

A recent survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerArc showed that around 40% of Americans experienced layoffs at some point in their careers. More people at 48% of the survey responders feel layoff anxiety, worrying about the stability of their jobs.

While it is a relatively common occurrence in the workplace, it still does not diminish the fact that it is a challenging experience and something no worker wishes to experience.

But even if it does happen to you and your career development takes an unexpected turn, it is important to remember that being laid off is not the end of the world. Your job does not define you, after all. It simply is a minor setback in your journey through life.

Why Companies Lay Off Employees

When dealing with a layoff, it is important to understand why companies do it in the first place. There are several reasons for this, including:


In 2008, a staggering 2.6 million people lost their jobs in the United States alone. This was due to the Great Recession, which saw a general decline in the economic markets during this period. Companies had no choice but to downsize to minimize their losses.

Company Takeover

Another reason layoffs happen is when a company is acquired by another. New management usually takes over and makes decisions on employee retention. For workers, sometimes it boils down to being in the wrong place at the wrong time, such as working for a department the new management deemed dispensable.

Cost-cutting and Technological Advancement

Even companies who may not necessarily be struggling sometimes end up laying off employees to reduce expenses or to increase efficiency and productivity via automation. The harsh reality is that, to most businesses, employees are expendable pieces that can be let go of at any moment.

If you were laid off, it’s not because you’re a bad employee that needed to be fired. For the most part, the reasons stated above are all there is to it.

Bottom line is, companies usually lay employees off because of, well, their bottom line. You shouldn’t blame yourself if it happens to you.

Dealing with Emotions in the Aftermath of a Layoff

It is normal to feel negative after being let go from your job. Nobody wants to lose their source of income. All hope isn’t lost, though. Here are some of the things you can do to cope with the difficulties of a layoff:

Seek Support from Family and Friends

Your loved ones should be your main source of help and guidance during these trying times. They will not love you less just because you lost your job. Feel free to open up to them and spend time with them. Share your problems and learn from any candid feedback they may share.

Online communities found in forums and social media platforms can also be a source of wisdom and strength. Knowing that there are other people out there who went through or are going through the same experience can provide a boost.

Make the Most of Your Time Off

This might not be a viable option depending on your financial situation, but if you can, take a break and unwind even for just a few days off. Our bodies and minds also need to recharge. Relax and try to clear your head.

As you reassess your career plans moving forward, taking a much-needed rest could help in revitalizing your work motivation and jumpstarting the next phase of your life.

You may also pursue a hobby or learn new skills. You never know, but this may eventually lead you to a new career that you would enjoy doing.

Always Take the High Road

It is okay to be bitter and angry after a layoff, especially when you know you’ve done nothing wrong. However, instead of lashing out at your former bosses, remember to take the high road and never burn bridges.

Life has its funny twists and turns and you never know what will happen next. It’s always better to keep things positive with everyone.

Taking Action and Moving Forward

The best way to move on is to take action. Here are some things you can do to re-establish your career:

Update Your Curriculum Vitae

Make sure you have an updated CV uploaded in sites like LinkedIn. This way it would be easier for recruitment agencies to find you and know that you are looking for work. Layoffs should not deter other companies from hiring you so don’t be afraid to indicate that.

Budget Your Money

One of the reasons why it is crucial to have savings is because job stability can be unpredictable. Even the biggest companies sometimes end up laying off employees. Always make sure you have enough for the rainy days and any similar emergencies.

Most companies offer severance pay to laid-off employees. If you receive one, make the most out of it. Live within your means and budget accordingly.

Connect With Others

Reach out to friends and colleagues who may be able to help you land your new job. Social media in particular lets you connect with people from your past and present with only a few clicks. The more people you connect with, the more opportunities you may discover for your new career.

Examples of People Who Succeeded After Being Laid Off

History is replete with stories of successful people who were able to bounce back after losing their respective jobs. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is an excellent example of that.

He served as a partner at investment bank Salomon Brothers. When it was bought out in 1998, Bloomberg was among those laid off. He then decided to use his severance pay to start his own financial services company: Bloomberg LP.

With the success of his company, his net worth today is estimated to be around $50 billion.

Other examples include Oprah Winfrey, JK Rowling, Mark Cuban, and even Walt Disney. Of course, you do not have to reach the same level of achievement these famous personalities did to be called a success.

Aside from them, there are countless other stories of everyday people who were able to move forward and succeed. Draw inspiration from their experiences. If they can find success after a layoff, so could you.

A Layoff Can Be a Blessing in Disguise

A layoff can be mentally and emotionally taxing. It can cause stress and panic especially when you do not have an immediate plan in place. However, as with any adversities that may come our way, it is always best to look on the bright side.

For all you know, being laid off is a chance for you to discover your true purpose in life. It can open doors to plenty of opportunities that you would not have otherwise sought while you were too preoccupied with your previous job.

Good things happen to those who believe. Even better things happen to those who take action. As long as you stay positive and exert the necessary effort, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to successfully bounce back.