Dos and Don’ts If You Get Laid Off or Fired

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Dos and Don’ts If You Get Laid Off or Fired

In the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, being dismissed from a job is in the Top 10 most stressful events. Anyone who’s gone through it can relate. For anyone who hasn’t gone through–or is going through it now–we’ve compiled a few dos and don’ts to be aware of in the beginning.

DO: Strap Down Your Emotions

There is an entire raft of emotions that comes from getting a pink slip, but fear and anger are the two that tend to top the list. You might think putting a fist through a wall or telling your boss where to go will make you feel better, but all it will do is cause more trouble down the road. Take some deep breaths to clear your head, and focus on staying calm.

DON’T: Minimize the Psychological Effect

While you don’t want to have a meltdown before you get out of the building, you also don’t want to pretend everything is hunky-dory. Being laid-off is a blow to your psyche and your self-esteem. Take a little time to grieve. Stand on your couch and scream. Scarf some Ben and Jerry’s. Be nice to yourself until that initial wave passes.

DO: Confide in a Friend

With an event this big, you’re going to feel the need to vent to your best friend, your spouse, or maybe even a trusted coworker. Go for it: not only will you feel better, you’ll hopefully gain a little reassurance and advice for moving on.

Tony Lee, publisher of, points out the initial anger and pain are usually followed by confusion and disillusionment. “Unless these feelings are aired out,” he says, “your self-esteem can become shaky.”

DON’T: Tell the Whole World Right Away

No matter how emotional you’re feeling, resist the urge to broadcast the news to everyone you meet. Remember, everyone you meet or talk to is a potential lead to your next job. You need to present a good picture of yourself and show you have a mature outlook … and that’s not going to be easy at first.

Try imagining yourself in your next position. Figure out what that could look for, then take some time to mentally prep yourself to win that position.

DO: Update Your Resume and Social Media Profiles

Once you’ve taken a day or two to calm down, take care of yourself, and reassess your career goals, it’s time to think about the future. You may not be sure which direction you’re heading, but go ahead and update your online presence.

Make sure your social media profiles current, and if you’ve been meaning to polish your summaries, now’s a great time. Change your status, but don’t think you have to say “unemployed.” Instead, present yourself as a professional looking for new opportunities; there’ll be plenty of time later to explain your current situation.

DO: Take Stock of Your Financial Situation

Most of us wouldn’t be working if we didn’t need the money. You may be out of work for weeks or months, so start thinking long-term:

  • File for unemployment. Even if you think you won’t use it, go ahead and file now. It can take a while for benefits to kick in, and you want it to be an option if you need it.
  • Look at recent purchases. No one likes returns, but if you’ve made major purchases over the last few days, consider a refund, if possible. Some people feel uncomfortable about returning even new, unused items, but merchants are used to  handling returns, to the tune of over $260.5 billion in 2015.
  • Take care of medical needs. You’ll likely still be under your employer’s insurance until the end of the month. Try to stuff doctor and dentist appointments in while you’re still covered. This is also a good time to check into the federal COBRA program.

DON’T: Start Sending Resumes Out to Just Everyone

After examining your finances, you’re probably thinking you need a new source of income RIGHT NOW. By all means, start looking but remember, while you’re in a panic about income, you also need to be thinking about your career goals. The temptation will be to apply for everything, but applying for you jobs you’re over- or underqualified for is a waste of everyone’s time. Slow down, check carefully and be thoughtful when applying.

Obviously, there are a million thoughts, emotions, and considerations that go through your head when your boss says “Thanks but no thanks.” If you get nothing else from this article, remember this: Don’t. Panic. Making random moves out of fear is likely to exacerbate the problem. Take a deep breath (or two), think before you act, and take confident steps to your new career.