Here's how to bounce back after a layoff

Food delivery service GoPuff is the latest company to make headlines with news of mass layoffs. The company, which grew rapidly during the pandemic and amassed a workforce of 15,000, plans to send 3% (or about 450) of its workers packing, according to news reports.

If you think that’s savage, consider the nearly thousands of workers online mortgage lender nixxed just last month. Its CEO was asked to step away from the company after public backlash he received for firing 900 employees on a Zoom call.

As painful as getting laid off from a job can be, it doesn’t have to be the death knell for your career — if you prepare yourself correctly.

Here's what to do.

Frustrated young woman in yellow sweater standing at table and touching face with hand while packing stuff in office after dismissal
Frustrated young woman in yellow sweater standing at table and touching face with hand while packing stuff in office after dismissal

Don’t keep it a secret

There’s no shame in being let go from a company through no fault of your own. By sharing the news with your friends and peers, you might find your way to a new job opportunity faster than you imagined. It’s become pretty common for former employees to post the news on LinkedIn and Twitter and immediately ask their networks to keep them in mind for new opportunities. Many workers even crowdsource public lists of sacked employees to help employers easily find candidates for open positions.

Keep your network engaged

Don’t wait till you’re laid off to start networking. Keep in touch with former colleagues and peers and follow their work. It makes it much less awkward to reach out for a referral or recommendation letter when you have a preexisting relationship with the person first.

Maintain a healthy emergency fund

I was 22 years old and had nothing but a partially paid-off mattress and a few hundred bucks to my name when I was let go from a magazine job early in my career. I promised I’d never get caught financially off guard again, so I made it a habit to save for such emergencies. A few months’ worth of expenses is a solid starting goal for an emergency fund (or more, if you have dependents). It will buy you crucial time to line up your next gig without worrying about keeping a roof over your head.

Develop an independent source of income

Having additional sources of income other than a 9-to-5 paycheck is a form of emergency savings that few workers think about. If you’re already doing a bit of freelance work or consulting on the side, you don’t have to start from scratch if your employer decides to give you the boot. Think about what skills or talents you have that you could potentially monetize and start sooner rather than later.

Be compassionate to others

It can feel isolating to see others continue with their regular schedules while you’re suddenly flung back out into the job market. If you see peers or friends get laid off, offer to support them in any way you can. You never know when or if you might find yourself in that position in the future.

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Mandi Woodruff is an inclusive wealth-building and career expert, cohost of the Brown Ambition Podcast and founder of the MandiMoney Makers community.

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