How to Navigate Being Laid Off
There’s been lots of news lately about layoffs, particularly at tech companies and startups. We know firsthand and through personal experience how difficult layoffs can be—especially at scale, and especially when they’re sudden. (You can read more on that in this note from our Founder & CEO, Dave Fano.)
Whether or not you anticipated losing your job, it can result in a whirlwind of emotions: shock, grief, relief, exhaustion, shame, fear of not knowing what’s next. It’s normal to experience a wide range of feelings, and it’s ok—important, really—to take time to pause, reflect, and grieve if needed.
This is your reminder if you got laid off that it’s going to be ok. Lots of places are still hiring right now; you’re going to find a new job soon—and one that excites you.
More than anything, know that you’re not alone in this. We’re here to offer support as you begin your job search and to help guide you through every bit of the process, and to curate resources that we hope will help you in this next chapter.
That's why we've created this layoff playbook to be a living, breathing document that we edit over time. We’d love for this to be as collaborative and comprehensive as possible, so if you know of any resources you’d suggest we add, let us know; feedback is always welcomed.
Best of luck with this transition. We’re rooting for you.
Handling rumors and press
Layoffs really begin long before the layoff itself—and particularly at big tech companies, where you may start to hear the murmuring of rumors, either internally or externally, about reductions in workforce. You may see headlines in the news or speculation on social media days (or even months) before anything is officially announced to employees—a cycle that can be both frustrating and exhausting, as it further exacerbates the feelings of uncertainty that already surround getting laid off.
If contacted by the press (whether local or through emails or outreach on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or TikTok), it’s one's own decision as to whether or not to speak to them. We won’t make a recommendation one way or another as that’s your choice; however, if you do decline an interview or respond, “No comment” and reports keep pestering you, it’s also acceptable to ignore the reporter’s request and/or block their number.
You may also get inquiries from your family and friends about your work during this stretch—people who last week hadn’t heard of your company or didn’t know what you did suddenly surface with questions and thoughts and opinions. While the outpouring of support likely comes from a good place, it may be necessary to set some boundaries with loved ones or be selective about whom you share your feelings with.
Taking care of your mental health before a layoff—the anxiety, the stress, the heightened emotions, the toll it all takes—is just as important as it is during and after the layoffs. (More on that below.)
Worrying about the company leaving a stain on your reputation
Depending on the nature of the layoff, it may feel like what was once a brand name you were proud to have on your resume is suddenly no longer such a positive thing. You can’t help but wonder if the news about the business will reflect poorly on YOU as a soon-to-be-former employee, even if you had no direct involvement with the company’s struggles.
Ultimately, many future employers will know that whatever caused the layoffs at a company was not your fault, and that the layoffs weren’t a result of your professional performance.
Using WeWork as an example (since that’s the lens through which much of our team at Teal is most familiar with layoffs, and since many folks have asked for our thoughts about WeCrashed lately), a future employer would likely not see “WeWork” on your resume and assume that it was your contribution as a product manager or community director or operations associate that impacted the behavior or decisions at the executive level. If anything, having the name “WeWork” on your resume shows that you are capable of delivering high-quality results under intense pressure, working cross-functionally (and often internationally) to find creative solutions to problems, and have experience with the agility required at hyper-growth startups—all positive things.
If you have a sense you might be impacted by upcoming layoffs
With so many of us dedicating a huge portion of our lives to work, a pending layoff may feel like a huge shock to the system, like your world is being destabilized. Suddenly, your job goes from your “certainty” bucket to your “uncertainty” bucket—and that can feel daunting and lower your confidence, to say the least.
Often times it helps to turn your attention inward, to the things you can control. If you have a strong sense that you might be laid off, here are some steps you can take to prepare and feel more in control of an otherwise uncontrolled situation:
- Do bring up employment agreements, contracts, or any other documentation you may want to have handy.
- Do ask yourself if you were to get walked out tomorrow and your email and Slack were deactivated on the spot, what would you need? Metrics about past projects you’ve worked on? Examples for your portfolio? Contact information for clients you worked with or colleagues you want to keep in touch with? Here’s a guide from VICE on how to safely and securely download your work contacts and notes to prepare for what comes next.
- Do collect any personal files, photos, or documents from your company-issued laptop and make sure they’re backed up in a way you can access on a non-work computer. (You should be doing this on a regular basis anyway, so it’s a good habit to form.)
- Do take note of any financial or health-related accounts you had through your company (e.g., 401(K), HSA, FSA, etc.,) and make sure you have access to login information for those various sites (usernames, passwords, account numbers, etc.).
- Don’t take any proprietary information that belongs to the company.
- What to Do If You’re Worried About a Layoff (Alison Doyle, The Balance Careers)
- What to Do If You're Worried About Getting Laid Off (Dayana Yochim, MSNBC)
- When You Know Layoffs Are Coming (Aliya Hamid Rao, Harvard Business Review)
- Career Experts Offer Advice for People Who Are Worried About Layoffs (Jack Kelly, Forbes)
- The Hard Conversation You Need to Prep for if Your Job's On the Line (Lea McLeod, The Muse)
- Leaving Your Job: What You Can and Can’t Take With You (Sharon Florentine, CIO.com)
Getting that calendar invite. You know the one.
Did you get the calendar invite for a group meeting or Zoom call, or maybe a 1:1 with your manager? Layoffs may look and feel entirely different these days depending on whether or not you’re working remotely. Here’s a general idea of what to expect:
- The anticipation and anxiety surrounding the layoffs is half the battle. (Well, maybe not half—but there can sometimes be a sense of relief in finally having a concrete answer after so much uncertainty.) If it helps you to feel more in control and prepared heading into the meeting, bring a paper and pen to take some notes; you can refer back to them later as needed.
- Whether you’re in person or remote, chances are you’ll be thanked for your service at the company, and notified that effective immediately, there will be some structural or staffing changes and today will be your last day with the organization.
- Many times, email, Slack, and other internal company accounts will be deactivated immediately and you’ll be asked to return (or mail back) your company-issued laptop or other electronic equipment, as well as your work ID.
- They should provide information in that meeting about next steps, such as signing of separation agreements, severance packages if offered, necessary paperwork, and so forth.
For reference, here’s an example of communications that were sent to Carta employees around a 2020 Covid-related layoff.
A note about the following information: We’re not legal professionals, and as such, the following does not constitute legal advice. We suggest consulting with a lawyer or legal professional for further information.
Separation or severance agreements
Generally, in the US, an organization will want its employees to sign a separation agreement upon termination of employment. Though the document isn’t required by law, companies often utilize these agreements as a way to protect themselves from possible legal trouble down the line, or to keep company information confidential. When signed by both parties, the agreement ensures that the terminated employee won’t take further legal action against the organization.
The bigger the company is, the more important it is to them that they have employees sign a separation agreement—and frankly, can be a liability for them not to offer one.
That said, you don’t technically have to accept the separation agreement provided. And although a uniform separation or severance agreement may be offered to all employees impacted by a layoff, there’s nothing that says you can’t attempt to negotiate certain parts of the agreement if you don’t like the terms being offered and want to try to negotiate for better terms.
If you don’t fully understand what you’re being asked to sign, we strongly suggest speaking to a lawyer or advisor before signing.
- Employment Separation Agreements: Everything You Need to Know (Matthew Zane, Zippia)
- What Is Employment Separation? (Definition and Types) (Indeed)
- Your Rights on the Job: FAQ (WomenEmployed.org)
After getting laid off, make sense of severance and know how to negotiate
Severance pay is compensation that’s paid to an employee when the employer terminates their employment, and is typically calculated based on how long you were employed by the organization. It may be paid as a lump sum or over a longer period of time.
With some exceptions, your employer is likely not required to offer you a severance package. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) mandates that the company pay your usual wages through your last day of employment, but technically the employer usually has no legal obligation to give severance to departing employees.
If you are offered a severance package, you may want to consider reviewing the agreement with a lawyer before agreeing to the terms. As mentioned earlier, severance pay can be incredibly difficult to negotiate—especially if the termination is part of a larger mass layoff—but it can’t hurt to ask to review your package. Even if the company can’t negotiate on the severance pay itself, there’s a chance they may be able to negotiate other benefits, such as paying out unused PTO or continuing contributions to your health insurance premiums.
The benefits of negotiating for a better overall severance package can outweigh the risks. To get the most value out of your severance package, identify each component to know if anything is missing. The following are common elements of a severance package:
- Severance pay
- Paid time off
- Stock options
- Transition and outplacement services
- Liability release
- Nondisclosure agreement
If you do decide to negotiate your severance, make sure you're prepared. Determine what you want to ask for and why. If others in the organization were laid off, learn about their package to determine if your offer is fair. Consider what leverage you have in the negotiation to use to your advantage. The more prepared you are, the better the negotiation will go.
Again, we’re not employment lawyers, so we’d advise you to speak with a professional before taking action. Below are some excellent supplemental resources for navigating severance, along with a checklist of things you can look out for (or perhaps ask for) in a severance package.
Recommended Reading & Resources:
- What to Expect in a Severance Package (Alison Doyle, The Balance Careers)
- How to Negotiate a Severance Package if You Are Laid Off (Deborah Acosta, The Wall Street Journal)
- How is Severance Pay Calculated and When Is It Due? (U.S. Department of Labor)
- How To Negotiate a Severance Package to Get the Best Benefits (Indeed)
- Half of employers are planning layoffs - here's how to negotiate your exit if it happens to you (Jennifer Liu, CNBC)
The following things MIGHT be part of a severance package, and are good to be aware of when reviewing your offer:
- Severance pay (cash)
- Health insurance (continuation of the organization contributing to your premium or covering it entirely)
- Garden or gardening leave (where you technically stay on as an employee and continue to receive all normal salary and benefits, but you’re not actively working)
- Keeping your company-issued computer so you can job search
- Non-compete agreement
- Outplacement services, which is a benefit some employers offer to exiting employees as part of a severance package to help laid off employees transition into new roles and find work elsewhere. Services may include resume writing advice, interview coaching, and career planning. Though Teal can help with many of those same services, the level of 1:1 assistance offered by these companies can be beneficial.
You’ve separated from your former company. Now what?
First of all, take a beat. If you’re in a position where you have a little bit of runway (or savings) and don’t have to jump into new work immediately, we recommend giving yourself a moment to process what just happened and to grieve as needed.
We suggest taking at least 24 hours to process before jumping back into the job search—ideally, wherever you are in the week, you’re able to give yourself until the following Monday to start your search. (For example, if layoffs occur on a Thursday, give yourself through the weekend to process. If the layoffs are on a Monday, give yourself until the following Monday.)
Ruth Rama-Witt suggests a similar approach: "Immediately after being laid off, take at least 1 week to step back, take care of yourself, and just breathe. Do something you enjoy, maybe get "stuff" done you never had the time to do. And definitely don't do any work or start your job search yet!"
This recommendation is more art than science, so of course go at your own pace—but this general guideline gives you structured time to reflect and process, plus a tangible “start date” for when you’ll take action.
In those first 24 hours if you got laid off:
- Don’t pressure yourself to be productive just yet.
- Reach out to a loved one to talk if you need support.
- Try to get some sleep.
- What to Do If You Were Just Laid Off (Alison Green, The Cut)
- Laid Off? What to Do in That First Week (Larry Cornett, Medium)
- 7 Questions to Raise Immediately After You’re Laid Off (Susan Peppercorn, Harvard Business Review)
Step 1: Process the logistics
One of the reasons we started Teal was because we saw the infrastructural disparity that exists between companies and employees. Companies have entire HR teams and tools at their disposal; employees have… well, Google. And some (excellent) online resources, but no department telling them exactly what to do next or how to navigate this chapter.
Below, we’re sharing suggested steps and linking out to recommended resources that may help in the days and weeks following a layoff.
- Don’t feel you have to start working on your resume just yet. You can, of course—it’s always good to keep it up to date anyway, and a little career TLC can never hurt—but don’t pressure yourself to start applying for jobs straight away; there are other logistical matters to attend to first.
- Review your separation agreement with an attorney if you so choose, or at least reach out to an attorney to start the conversation.
Compute your runway
Use our free budget calculator tool to determine when you have to have your next job by. Keep this target date in mind and write it down so it’s front and center.
If you need immediate financial assistance and aren’t in a place to take time off between roles—perhaps the company that just went through layoffs didn’t provide severance or your financial situation requires a more immediate solution—here are places to search for gig or freelance work straight away:
- Dribbble (graphic design)
- MarketerHire (marketing)
- Working Not Working (creative talent)
- Round-up of 82 best freelance websites in 2022 to help you get remote freelance work fast (via Ryan Robinson)
- 22 best freelance websites to find work in 2022 (Jeff Cardello, Webflow)
- Are there other sites you’d suggest we add to the list? Let us know.
Set up health insurance
- Depending on your severance package, some employers might extend your health coverage for a period; other times, if you were on your company’s health insurance plan, you may be eligible for continuation of health coverage through COBRA, which gives workers and their families who lose their health benefits the right to choose to continue to participate in that insurance plan for a limited period of time.
- Note: you’ll be expected to pay the full premium. If your severance package doesn’t include extended health insurance benefits, you can buy a plan from the Health Insurance Marketplace.
- If You Lose Job-Based Health Insurance (Healthcare.gov)
- How Long Do You Have Health Insurance After Leaving a Job? (Tara Seboldt, The Balance Careers)
- Out of work? Here’s what you need to know about getting health insurance (Annie Nova, CNBC)
- How to keep health insurance after a job layoff or furlough (Aetna.com)
File for unemployment benefits
- In the U.S., every state sets its own procedure around filing for unemployment, so be sure to check your state’s labor or employment department website or call for the most up-to-date information. If you Google search, “File for unemployment” + “[your state’s name,]”, you should find the right website—but here’s a round-up of state unemployment agencies. To learn how to qualify and apply for unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation, welfare or temporary assistance, and/or other programs and services that can help you if you lose your job, visit USA.gov/unemployment. If you live in one state and work in another, you’ll typically file for the state in which you worked, not the state in which you live.
- The Balance Careers has a great guide to collecting unemployment benefits, from filing claims to understanding state unemployment benefits that may be available.
- More on the how and where of filing for unemployment (Barbara Kate Repa, Nolo.com).
- A note about your unemployment job search and work search requirements: In order to qualify for and claim unemployment benefits, you must be actively seeking work—but the rules around how (and how to prove that) vary by state. Some states, like Colorado, require you to keep a running log of your applications and report back periodically to prove that you’re actively applying for jobs. In other states, like Texas, preparation like working on your resume or meeting with a career coach may count toward that requirement. If you need to submit a list of roles you’re actively applying to, you can export the jobs from your Teal Job Application Tracker into the format that most states accept.
Rollover or transfer your 401(k)
The question of what to do with your retirement account when you leave your company can be stressful. Look into your options, consult a financial professional, and evaluate what the right decision is for you.
Generally speaking, if you have more than $5,000 invested in your 401(k), most plans allow you to leave it where it is after you separate from your employer. If you want to roll it over but don’t yet have a new employer (which, assuming you were laid off, you likely don’t), you can roll over your 401(k) into an individual retirement account (IRA). We’re not financial advisors, so would recommend speaking with a professional before taking action. The below resources can help you navigate next steps.
- What to Do with Your 401(k) When You Leave a Job (Melissa Phipps, The Balance Careers)
- What Happens to Your 401(k) When You Leave a Job? (Claire Boyte-White, Investopedia)
- What to Do With Your 401(k) if You Get Laid Off (Rachel Hartman, US News)
Understand what happens with your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and Health Savings Account (HSA)
- FSA: Money left unused in your FSA typically goes to your employer after you lose your job, unless you’re eligible for and elect COBRA continuation coverage of your FSA. Typically, if you’ve been laid off and have expenses or outstanding claims that were incurred prior to the layoff, those claims are still eligible for reimbursement if a) they’re deemed to be eligible expenses; and b) the claims are submitted prior to the end of the plan’s run-out period.
- HSA: Unlike an FSA, money contributed to an HSA belongs to you and is yours to keep if you’re let go or laid off.
- Your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) After Job Loss (Elizabeth Davis, VeryWellHealth)
- What Happens with My Flexible Spending Account if I Lose My Job? (Craig Woodman, Sapling)
- What Happens to My HSA If I Leave My Job? (WageWorks)
- What Happens to My HSA When I Leave My Job? (Elizabeth Davis, VeryWellHealth)
Determine what to do with your equity
If you had stock in your company, it’s important to understand what kind of equity you have (e.g., restricted stock units (RSUs), stock options like ISOs, and NSOs), the time frame they have to exercise, the process to exercise, and the tax implications. The standard time frame for employees to exercise their options post-termination is 90 days, but companies may have shorter or longer windows, so it’s important to know the timeframe in which you’ll need to act.
- Here’s What You Need To Know About Equity If You’ve Been Laid Off (Sophia Kunthara, Crunchbase)
- What Are Employee Stock Options? (Jenna Lee, Carta)
- How to Protect Your Equity if You’ve Been Furloughed or Laid Off (Wouter Witvoet, TechCrunch)
- Here’s What to Do with Your Equity If You’ve Been Laid Off from a Startup (Oren Barzilai, The Next Web)
Assess your life insurance policy
Typically when you’re laid off, you’re no longer part of that group (i.e., company) life insurance policy. Generally speaking, whether or not you need life insurance depends on your individual financial goals; it’s most important if your death would place a financial burden on others.
- Losing Employee Life Insurance Due to Job Loss: What’s Next? (Georgia Rose, NerdWallet)
- Lost Your Life and Disability Insurance Along With Your Job? Here's How to Stay Covered (Cheryl Winokur Munk, Money)
- Supplemental Life Insurance: How Does It Work? (Holly Johnson, CNN)
Ensure the company has your most up-to-date mailing address
This is so they can send your final paycheck and any outstanding balances that are due to you. This may include but is not limited to:
- Severance pay
- Accrued but unused benefits like bonuses, commission, PTO, vacation, and/or personal days.
- Reimbursement for any outstanding expenses like business travel, tuition reimbursement, and healthcare and life insurance premium payments
Request a letter of unemployment from HR
If they can’t print a letter on letterhead, an email from the head of HR (with full name and title on the message) should suffice. You may need this letter to claim unemployment benefits.
Take a moment for yourself each day
Check in on your mental health. Get outside if you can. Have a cup of tea. Journal. Go for a walk. Read. Listen to a podcast. Binge a show. Do something that nurtures your soul.
The world can feel really heavy right now; make sure you’re looking out for yourself.
Step 2: Process your feelings
Speaking of looking out for yourself: Job loss ranks as one of life’s most stressful events, and it’s important to let yourself process that change and let things sink in. You won’t wallow forever, but there’s no shame in letting yourself feel how you feel before dusting yourself off and starting the job search process.
Below are recommended tools and resources that can help from a wellness and mental health standpoint following a layoff:
Mental Health & Meditation Resources:
You can also look to those who've been in your shoes and the lessons they've learned along the way:
- How to Manage the Emotional Impact of Getting Laid Off (Holly Epstein Ojalvo, The New York Times)
- How to Start Therapy (Lauren Hodges, NPR)
- I Have Layoff Anxiety. Here’s How I’m Learning to Cope. (Elizabeth Alterman, The Muse)
- Here’s How to Communicate With Friends Who Are Facing Career Struggles (Kat Boogaard, Truity.com)
- Layoffs Suck. Here's How You Can Help (Karen Ko, Medium)
Step 3: Do some soul-searching
When it comes to soul-searching, give some thought to what you want next: Do you want to be in the same role, but in new place? Pivot to a new career? Your job search will be most efficient if you can get clear on what you want.
In a job search, you’re your own worse enemy. If you’re complacent, unclear, or don’t know what you want to do next, chances are the process will be more cumbersome—but clarity can accelerate the process—and we have free workbooks and resources on the Teal website that can help.
Here are some of our recommendations:
- Determine Your Values & Motivation: Use our values workbook to help you determine what’s important to you in your new role. If you’re feeling stuck on identifying or articulating your values, we recommend checking out our free, on-demand video class that explains our career values framework and helps you dive further into what you want more and less of in your new role.
The Teal Values Workbook is meant to help you discern and document your values.
- Reflect on Your Skills: Use our skills workbook to reflect on your skills and how they may translate into your next role. If you’re looking to make a career pivot and want to identify your transferable skills, this is a great starting place. For example, you can apply sales skills to many career paths. Next, identify potential skills—abilities that you haven’t acquired yet, but that you want to learn and/or develop. If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to identifying and leveraging your skills, check out our free, on-demand video class to better understand your natural strengths and energizers, as well as acquired skills.
- Learning a new skill can be a great way to add structure during this unstructured time. If you’re looking to hone new skills (or brush up on existing ones), here’s a round-up of free or affordable classes to look into:
- LinkedIn Learning (if you don't have LinkedIn Premium, you can also access the courses with your public library card!)
- HubSpot Academy certification
- Google Certificate program
- Roundup of the best free online courses for learning something new (Shannon Connellan, Mashable)
- Salesforce Trailhead
- Any other classes you'd add to this list? Send us a note and let us know.
- Brainstorm Interests & Possible Career Options: Use our interests workbook to identify your interests and how they align with your skills. Check out this free, on-demand video class on how to align your interests and skills and this class on how to research career options so you can more easily brainstorm potential opportunities and identify any blockers. You can also check out this TikTok video how to use LinkedIn for career research—not just as a job board.
- Identify Your Work Style: Take the Work Styles Assessment to better understand how you best work. Here’s a video on Work Styles and how they can be used. You can also ask former colleagues, friends, and/or family members to give you a 360° review so you understanding how your perception of yourself stacks up against how you present yourself.
- If you’re contemplating a career pivot in 2022, the above exercises, classes, and workbooks will be beneficial, along with the following resources.
Some other resources to help you explore a career pivot:
- Our Career Shift Planner, which gives you a concrete timeline and suggested action items to stay on track to meet your career change goals by a certain date. You can customize the plan as needed by making a copy of our workbook.
- Our Career Shift Research tool, which can help you narrow down possible options.
- Free, on-demand video class on how to Plan My Career Pivot.
- Free, on-demand video class on how to Present My Best Self to Make a Career Pivot.
- Check your college or university's website to see if they offer career services; many institutions will support alumni in their job search even after graduation and have suggestions for how to network with fellow alumni.
- Another resource: America's Job Centers, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor. "In addition to physical centers with career advisors in every state and most counties (some services may be offered via Zoom depending on Covid), there is funding for retraining for laid off individuals through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act," explains career coach Susie O'Bryant.
- How to Make a Career Pivot in 2022 (Diana Shi, Fast Company)
- How People Redirect Their Careers After Getting Laid Off (Eliana Crosina and Michael G. Pratt, Harvard Business Review)
- Laid Off? Make Sure Your Next Job is a Better One (Sarah Goff-Dupont, Atlassian)
- Transforming a Layoff into a Career Pivot (Normal Ellis, The Rosie Report)
Step 4. Get your network working for you
Though you don’t need to worry about your resume just yet, it’s helpful to make sure your LinkedIn is up to date before posting publicly that you’re searching for a new opportunity. When you post, chances are it will (hopefully) get a lot of traction, and you’ll have people looking at your profile for the first time. Since it’s your public presence, you’ll want to be sure it represents the best possible version of YOU. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good—it’s ok if your LinkedIn profile isn’t 100% optimized yet—but use our free LinkedIn Profile Review tool to make sure the basic sections are filled out.
A great way to check your LinkedIn profile is to download Teal’s Free Chrome Extension which includes an automated LinkedIn Profile Review. Once you install the extension just go to your profile page and click on the Teal logo. You’ll see a list of recommendations on how best to optimize your profile.
Though it can be difficult, emotional, and often vulnerable to post about the layoffs, we live in a time where there’s no longer the same stigma there once was about being “open to work.” Layoffs were rampant in 2020, and with that, a normalizing of announcing that you were looking for new opportunities.
We suggest that you do so sooner rather than later so that a) you and fellow company alumni can support one another at the same time—there’s power in solidarity, and b) so there are more people looking out for you sooner. It may feel tough to ask for help, but keep in mind that people generally want to be of assistance with your search. There’s also something really special about the way the LinkedIn community can come together to rally and help one another.
If you don’t want to craft a LinkedIn post from scratch, here’s some template language you can copy, paste, and tweak as needed (just be sure to customize it before posting). A few tips to keep in mind:
- Tempting as it may be to bash your former employer publicly, it will pay dividends in the long run to stay as professional as possible.
- Layoffs are difficult no matter what—but the ability to show resilience and optimism in your post shows that you’re handling the situation with maturity and grace, and is attractive to future employers.
- It’s ok to be human. You don’t have to pretend that it’s all roses and sunshine—there’s a way to express your newfound “open to work” status in a way that’s both authentic and professional.
- Tell people what you’re looking for. Help people help you. Saying something vague like “I’m open to any opportunities in any industry” is harder for others to act on than saying, “I’m looking for a B2B sales role at a mid- to large-size company, ideally with a hybrid set-up in NYC or with the option to work 100% remotely.”
Sample LinkedIn Post:
Unfortunately, I was affected by the recent layoffs at [@COMAPNY NAME]. My past [X MONTHS/YEARS] there were an incredible learning opportunity, and I’m grateful to the talented team members I had the chance to work with. To my former colleagues, [INSERT SOMETHING PERSONAL OR TAG PEOPLE TO THANK THEM AS YOU SEE FIT.]
Though I’m disappointed that my journey with [COMPANY] ended this way, I look forward to leveraging my skills in [X, Y, AND Z] to drive impact at another organization.
I’m looking for a [DETAILS ABOUT THE ROLE: LEVEL, COMPANY SIZE, INDUSTRY, TITLE, ETC.], located in [LOCATION OR REMOTE.] If you or anyone in your network knows of a role that sounds like a good fit, I’d so appreciate an introduction. Thanks in advance for your help.
#opentowork #jobsearch [#ANY HASHTAGS FOR YOUR COMPANY]
Dan Space, an HR professional and the creator of the popular @Dan_from_HR TikTok account, sums it up perfectly:
How to Turn on the “Open to Work” Banner:
There’s been some controversy lately on whether or not job seekers should turn on the green “Open to Work” profile banner. Some people claim that it looks desperate—but we’d argue the opposite.
Here are three reasons we recommend turning on your #OpenToWork banner (and here's how to activate it):
- Job searching is hard enough without the stigma attached to it. Why wouldn’t you use every tool at your disposal to make it slightly less hard? There’s no shame in showing that you’re actively looking.
- Recruiters want to hire the best possible candidates for a role, and it can be helpful for them to source candidates who’ll be able to start immediately.
- In a crowded news feed full of noise, the #OpenToWork banner can help connect you to a community of fellow job seekers or folks who are willing to help with your search. LinkedIn was built to be a professional networking community—so why not network as broadly as possible?
Of course, if your profile’s optimized with keywords, accomplishments, and metrics, you’ll still pop up in recruiters’ search results—even if your #OpenToWork banner isn’t on. But it can’t hurt to test it out and see what happens. (A 2020 study from LinkedIn found that turning on “Open to Work” increased your likelihood of getting a recruiter message by 2x.)
A Note About Changing Your LinkedIn Headline:
We recommend changing your settings to “Open to Work” and adding the profile banner image, but not putting “Unemployed” or “Actively Seeking a New Opportunity” in your LinkedIn headline. Here’s why.
LinkedIn gives you 220 characters to work with in your headline, and you want to use that precious space to showcase what you CAN do—using keywords tailored to the specific position you’re targeting. When recruiters search LinkedIn for the best candidate for the job, they often search for skills relevant to the role they’re trying to fill—not “seeking new opportunities”.
Leveraging your LinkedIn headline by including your target title (e.g. “Digital Marketing Manager | SaaS Product Marketing | B2B & B2C Content Strategy”); it’s more likely appear in more relevant search results than “Unemployed – Currently Seeking a New Opportunity.”
For more on how to craft an effective headline, check out our LinkedIn Headlines Guide.
Add Yourself to a Layoff List:
To go beyond traditional networking, self-submit to a list of folks impacted by layoffs to help get more eyes on your LinkedIn profile and qualifications. Sometimes affected employees will self-organize, and other times there are industry-specific lists compiled by folks who are trying to help others land jobs. A few of our go-to's:
- Reno Perry, the founder & CEO of Wiseful, has aggregated and compiled all of those layoff lists into one place. If you were impacted by a layoff, add your information here.
- Layoff-sucks has a list that aggregates public layoff lists where people voluntarily signed up, plus people who sign up through them. You can add yourself here.
- Marketing leader Matt Kerbel has compiled a list of open marketing roles and candidates here. (Marketers can submit yourself on the second tab.)
Know of another list we should add? Let us know.
- How to Let Recruiters Know You’re Open on LinkedIn (Biron Clark, Career Sidekick)
- The Ultimate Guide to Being #OpenToWork on LinkedIn in 2022 (The Remote Job Coach)
- What to Put on Your LinkedIn When You’re Unemployed (Alison Doyle, The Balance Careers)
- How to Write a Crazy Effective LinkedIn Headline (Austin Belcak, Cultivated Culture)
- Impactful LinkedIn Headline Examples (James Hu, Jobscan)
Step 5: Research & Prepare for Your Job Search
One of the most jarring parts about being laid off is that you likely went from having structure in your life—a routine that was more or less consistent day-to-day (coffee, checking emails and Slack messages, meetings, to-dos)—to having the rug pulled out from under you.
Layoffs can feel unsettling—like the anchor in this turbulent world has been taken away—and you immediately feel rudderless. We’re here to help lend structure to a time that can often feel structure-less, giving you tangible daily tasks so you can take charge of your time and get back in the driver’s seat of your career.
Scheduling the daily tasks into your calendar will help you keep yourself accountable and stay on track. Take a few minutes to schedule out blocks of time to make sure you can complete all the tasks within your own calendar.
It’s tempting to start by refreshing your resume—but before you do that, take time to do some prep work:
- Install the free Teal Chrome Extension to help supercharge your search.
- Once you’ve gotten clarity on the type of role you’re looking for next, write down your goals using this goal-setting workbook. Studies have found that you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you put them down in writing.
- Use our job search planner tool to get clear and focused on your job search targets and create a realistic timeline to reach your job search goals.
- Fill out your Career History on the Teal website. (It’s 100% private, and just for your reference.) You can import your LinkedIn profile, visualize your career journey thus far, craft achievement bullet points using our Achievement Assistant tool while they're still fresh in your mind, and aggregate all of your job application materials in one place so you’re ready to go when the time comes.
- As you browse companies that sound interesting, add them to your Company Tracker so you can check back regularly and see if they have any open positions. We’d also suggest following these companies on LinkedIn so their updates appear in your news feed more regularly.
Step 6: Begin Your Job Search
There’s no perfect time to start your search; at some point, you’ll just have to rip off the Band-Aid and dive in.
If you want some structure and routine to give your search a framework, you can sign up for our free 10-day job search plan here. Each day, you’ll receive action items in your inbox, and the free workbook will break down daily tasks and to dos, lending guidance to a time that can often feel aimless.Our recommendations for starting your search:
Network, network, network
- Reach out to people for informational interviews. (Here’s a free template for what to say in your outreach, and an informational interview guide.)
- Communications templates are also included right in your Teal Job Application Tracker should you need them.
- As you connect with people on LinkedIn (or in person), add them to your Contact Tracker so you can remember who you connected with when.
- Jonathan Lee started a movement on LinkedIn called #SocialSaturday, where he aims to connect job seekers and help them expand their networks. He regularly rounds up job openings and posts lists of open roles with recruiters listed.
Search for (and save) job opportunities
- Check out our free, on-demand video class on locating job opportunities
- Looking for open roles LinkedIn is great—but that’s not the only place you should be looking for jobs. LinkedIn can be expensive for companies to list open positions, and many post roles on other sites instead (or in addition).
- More than 47 of these recommended job boards now integrate with the Teal Chrome extension so you can seamlessly save roles from those sites to your Job Application Tracker.
- Actively add jobs you’re interested to your Job Application Tracker. Think of it like online shopping—you don’t have to commit just by expressing interest, but this way you can start to get a sense of what roles appeal to you and see if there are any notable patterns.
- Looking for remote work or freelance/part-time opportunities? Senior Technical Recruiter Nikita Gupta rounded up a few incredible resources in this LinkedIn post.
When researching roles and job titles, be sure to expand your search. Here's more from our Founder & CEO Dave on why.
Tailor your resume
When you find a job you’re ready to apply for, make sure to tailor your resume before applying. Here’s our free class on how to tailor your resume to a job.
Review the job description, identify the keywords that are used most frequently (you can do so for free in Teal!), and incorporate those words into the resume you’re customizing for that role.
To help you with this alignment, we put together a comprehensive selection of resume examples and guidance. Build off of our samples and hit the ground running.
Use Teal’s AI Resume Builder to quickly compare the skills in the job posting to the skills in your resume. Make sure to add any relevant experience to your customized resume.
Here's more on whether you should create a new resume for every single role you apply to or simply tailor an existing resume.
Addressing a Layoff on Your Resume
Keeping your resume up to date is important, but should you include that you were laid off? You never want to lie, but you may be able to exclude a few minor details when updating your work experience. You do not need to provide an explanation for why your time in your previous role ended, and your resume should reflect your most relevant and impactful work compared to the job description.
Consider how you list dates on your resume. Avoid listing the months, as this might show more of a gap in employment, and instead only include the years you worked there. If your most recent job was the one you were laid off from, make sure to include the year you stopped working there, rather than writing "present". If you want to explain why you are not currently employed, you can note "mass corporate layoff" or something along those lines.
Addressing a layoff is never fun, so just make sure your resume is honest and a true reflection of your skills and achievements.
- How to Write a Resume That Wins a Job in 2022 (Austin Belcak, Cultivated Culture)
- How to Tailor Your Resume To the Job Description (James Hu, Jobscan)
- How to Tailor Your Resume to a Specific Job Description (Biron Clark, Career Sidekick)
- What It Really Means to "Tailor Your Resume" (Lily Zhang, The Muse)
- Best Practices to Address Being Laid Off in Your Resume (Joblist)
- How To Write About Being Laid Off on a Resume in 9 Steps (Indeed)
Get help with your applications
- For more on how to ask for referrals, do cold outreach, and best manage your online job applications, check out of free, on-demand class on Applying for Jobs.
- If you want or need support throughout your job search process, connect with us on social media (TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube), where we’ll regularly share content related to the job search.
- You can access additional free resources on our website.
If you were part of a mass layoff, you are not alone, and one of the best things to do is band together to help one another through the aftermath. You’ve all just gone through something that no one else truly understands the nuances of. We can weigh in based on our experience navigating layoffs at other companies—but your company’s particular layoff experience is unique, and being surrounded by others who can relate can be one of the most helpful ways to power through.
What does that look like?
- Join or make a spreadsheet of folks who were impacted by the layoffs and who are open to new opportunities. Ideally this will be a document that you or someone from your team can own and share to gather laid off employees’ information (contact, job search preferences, etc.). When sharing the sheet, make sure expectations are set up front re: privacy and whether email addresses submitted will be shared publicly. Be sure to adjust any privacy settings for the document so that the necessary columns are visible and only those who’ve been laid off from the company are entering their information.
- Layoffs.fyi has compiled a list of links to crowdsourced layoff lists created by other people; you can check there before creating a new list of your own, or check first with fellow alumni to make sure you’re not duplicating existing efforts.
- Some examples of tools and platforms you can use to build a list of your own:
- Google Form for submissions, with data automatically entered into a Google Sheet (example: Klarna)
- Coda (examples: Robinhood, Airbnb)
NOTE: Some companies will also coordinate a database of affected employees to help with outplacement services (example: Peloton), so it may be worth checking to see if your company created something similar.
- Form an accountability group to have each other’s back. One of the hardest things about being unemployed is that you have complete and total control of your time. It can be hard to motivate yourself to stay focused and work toward your goals without accountability. You can use Slack or Discord to organize regular digital check-ins or weekly in-person meetups, comfort levels permitting, to ensure you’re making progress week over week.
- Join or create a private alumni community for free on Slack or Discord to keep in touch with others who were impacted by the layoffs. If you want to start your own community, here are the channels we’d recommend that you set up:
- Intros (for people to introduce themselves and say what they’re looking for next)
- Referrals (asking for intros at certain companies or offering to serve as a referral for others)
- Jobs (open roles)
- Feedback (a safe space to help each other workshop resumes, provide feedback on job offers and negotiation, etc.)
- Join industry-specific internet communities. We’ll build this list in the coming weeks; let us know which other resources we should add!