What To Say When You Get Laid Off

If you’ve been laid off, or if someone you care about has lost their job recently, I want you to know you’re not alone—and you are going to be okay. We’re going to walk through some practical and effective ways for you to move forward, even in the face of fear.

But hear me on this: Just because you lose your job doesn’t mean you’ll lose everything else. Don’t let fear blow this thing out of proportion. Panic leads to irrational thoughts, which lead to irrational behaviors. Use this time to pause and regain some perspective.

At some point, you have to decide it’s time to press on. And I’m here to help you take the first step.

7 Questions to Raise Immediately After You’re Laid Off
  1. Q: When will I receive my last paycheck? …
  2. Q: Will I receive severance pay? …
  3. Q: How long will I have to exercise my stock options? …
  4. Q: Is the company offering healthcare coverage after my last day of work, and for how long? …
  5. Q: Will you provide a reference for me?

Ask if You’re Allowed to Apply for Other Positions Internally

Company policy may dictate this. Some places will let you do so right away. Others may impose a waiting period before rehiring or allowing you to freelance for the company in the future. If you were fired for performance-related issues, you probably don’t want to ask, and your employer probably hopes you won’t. But, if you’re being let go because of team restructuring, it’s worth asking what other opportunities may be available to you.

Stay Present and Manage Your Emotions

I once heard a colleague rant that they wanted to get laid off in the next round of workforce reductions. They were vocal about how they would welcome the chance to get away from their team, their boss, their job. In the next round, as luck would have it, they got laid off.

But they didn’t run around and high five everyone declaring their happiness. They freaked out. They yelled. They told everyone how unfair the system was. They loudly declared they were not going to help transition their work to someone else. There was a tacit understanding among the managers that, “Yep, we made a good decision on that one.”

You don’t want to be that person.

Even if you hate your job and are pining for a layoff notice, a job loss can knock the wind right out of you. The choice to leave is no longer yours; someone has made the decision for you, and that can be hard to swallow.

Instead of ranting like my former colleague, take a long, slow exhale and ask for a minute to process the news. When you manage your emotions by pausing like this, you help yourself stay calm, and you give yourself a chance to be present for the rest of the inevitable conversation. And by not allowing yourself to react immediately, you preserve your hard-earned reputation.

What Does It Mean to Be Laid Off?

Getting laid off happens when your employer needs to let go of team members, usually because of hard economic times. Layoffs can also happen when companies restructure or merge with another company, eliminating certain positions.

The job market has been especially rough lately because of how the pandemic has affected businesses and the economy at large. The harsh reality is that when the economy grinds to a halt, companies simply can’t meet payroll—which leads to more layoffs. Unfortunately, most businesses aren’t letting people go because they want to, but because they have to.

10 Questions You MUST Ask When You’re Laid Off


What is the first thing you do when you get laid off?

Some suggestions worth investigating:
  1. Ask HR for a “laid-off” letter.
  2. Ask about insurance coverage.
  3. Check on your final paycheck.
  4. Review your 401k contributions.
  5. Ask about severance.
  6. File for unemployment.
  7. Put the internet to work for you.
  8. Update your resume.

How do you say laid off nicely?

Remember to speak slowly and calmly. Manager: I’ve called this meeting because I must unfortunately inform you that your position with the company is being eliminated. We do not have another position for you. This means you are being laid off and Human Resources will work with you to complete your transition.

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