How To Deal With A Layoff

updated on 06 August 2022

The recent employee layoffs by several FAANG and big tech companies have taken the job market aback. Employees are worried about the uncertainty that surrounds them due to external factors, and those who have been laid off are going through a challenging time. In this blog, we will share tips and resources you can use to secure your immediate future after you have been laid off. We hope this will help you plan and ease your transition better.

Tech Layoffs in 2022 🧑🏼‍💻

Several giants like Netflix, Coinbase, Tesla, Redfin, and more have announced layoffs in 2022. We understand how difficult it can be to deal with being laid off without any prior notice, but it is important to remember that it is just a phase, and you will get through it.

It is normal for one to feel a lot of emotions during such time, but do keep in mind that being laid off is never personal. Even though losing your job will seem challenging to cope with, remember that other companies are still hiring and that all the effort and hard work you have put into your previous job will stand in good stead when applying for other roles.

The sudden news about a layoff can be stressful. Give yourself the time you need to process your feelings.
The sudden news about a layoff can be stressful. Give yourself the time you need to process your feelings.

Getting Laid Off vs. Getting Fired: Understand The Difference ✔️

It may feel like being laid off will damage your reputation within the industry or that your future employers will view you as an undesirable candidate for their company. That is not the case. 

There's a difference between being laid off and being fired. Being laid off means you lost your job due to changes in the company's structure, direction, financial situation, or any other reason due on part of the company itself. It has nothing to do with your actions but the company's decisions to downsize or restructure their departments to cope with external factors affecting the business. 

On the other hand, being fired means the company either found your actions wrong or terminated employment due to poor performance from the employee. This generally happens due to any negative behavior/activities or poor performance on the employee's part and is dealt with differently. To sum it up - no, being laid off does not leave any stain on your reputation and in no way suggests anything about your personal performance. Layoffs are not in employees' hands, and all companies understand that.

How To Deal With A Layoff 📋

Disclaimer: Please note that this blog is not providing any financial or legal advice. It is only a guide to help you navigate through the situation better. If you need expert help, please seek consulting from a qualified professional who can help you make the right decisions.

Depending on your company's policies, you will be entitled to certain benefits and severance pay if you have been laid off. Here's what you should do when you get laid off:

1. Curate all the documents, metrics, or contacts you may require upon being laid off.

Think of everything you might need for the next steps of your professional career. Although the layoffs are not in your control, how you prepare for what's to happen next is. 

  • Go through any employment contracts, agreements, or other documents to understand your terms of employment. Keep them handy for whenever you might need them.
  • Take note or maintain data of any examples or metrics from past projects which you may need when updating your resume. 
  • Go through all the documents on your work device and make notes of projects you have worked on. List the accomplishments that you could use to showcase in your upcoming interviews.
  • Take a backup of any personal files you may have on your work device to avoid data loss.
  • Curate account numbers or passwords of any financial or health-related accounts you may have through your company (eg. 401K, HSA, FSA, etc). 

Dealing with a layoff can be tough emotionally, but having documents or any necessary details you may need with you as you deal with the situation can relieve you of the stress of struggling to find them later.

2. Read through your separation or severance agreement.

Most companies ask employees to sign a separation or severance agreement upon terminating their employment. Some companies also refer to these as "termination agreements" or release of employment claims". 

Although signing these documents is not mandatory by law, most companies offer these documents to employees being laid off to lay down an understanding of the terms upon which the employment is being terminated. Once you sign this document, you essentially give up your right to take legal action against the company on any grounds in return for compensation, either in cash or in terms of benefits.

Your separation agreement will generally consist of the following:

  • Separation Details: Contains information about the terms of the agreement, last date of employment, and reason for termination.
  • Waiver of Claims: Indicates that by signing the agreement, the employee can no longer file lawsuits against their employer for inappropriate termination or compensation charges.
  • Severance Details: Contains information about the employee's severance package in cash or benefits.
  • Non-compete Clause: States that the employee cannot take up any position that puts them in direct competition with the company they're leaving.
  • Confidentiality Clause: States that the employee cannot share any confidential information of the company with anyone.
  • Non-disclosure Clause: State that the employee cannot share details of the agreement with anyone.

Upon being asked to sign a separation or severance document, read through it carefully and ensure you understand every bit of it completely. If the jargon is too much, you can seek legal advice before signing it. 

Also, keep in mind that signing the document is not mandatory by law, which means if you come across any clause or severance package in the agreement that you think is unfair, you can negotiate the terms with your employer before accepting it. If you were part of any more extensive layoffs, negotiating these terms might be complex, but it never hurts to ask and request for your package/terms to be reviewed.

3. Understand your severance package.

Severance pay is the compensation a company offers to its employees upon termination of their agreement. This can be in the form of cash or benefits and paid either in a lump sum or over weeks.

Seek financial advice from a professional that can help you understand the fairness of your agreement.
Seek financial advice from a professional that can help you understand the fairness of your agreement.

In the U.S., the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) only mandates employers to pay the employee's usual wages through the last day. Apart from that, with a few exceptions, companies are not legally obligated to pay any severance to employees upon termination of employment. However, most companies offer a severance package to departing employees to provide breathing room until they find their next job. Information about it is often covered in the separation/severance agreement, except when it has already been clarified in the employment agreement.

Here's a list of what you can negotiate in your severance package:

  • Money: You can negotiate the amount you're being paid for the termination of employment. Bear in mind that your severance is decided based on your period of association with the company, but it never hurts to ask for more.
  • Mode of Severance Payment: You can negotiate the method of payment. If the company offers to pay severance over a period of time, and you're uncertain of their future performance, you can ask for a lump sum amount or vice versa.
  • Retirement Plan Contributions: You can negotiate and ask for the unvested amount of your retirement plan.
  • Stock Options: You can ask the company to let you continue to vest your stock after you leave.
  • Health Insurance: You can also ask the company to cover your health insurance until you land a new job.
  • Additional Support: You can request job search help, help with your resume, or coaching to support you through your job search.

Read here: Job Search Tips for 2022

The company may not necessarily accept your requests, but you should always negotiate if you think there's an element of the package that is unfair. Suppose you're struggling to understand the package. In that case, you can seek legal or financial advice to negotiate better and ensure you're focusing on the right things while asking the company to review their package.

4. Process the logistics.

Finding out about your sudden layoff can be overwhelming and hard to come to terms with. But there will be a few things that will need to be taken care of immediately within a few days of being laid off. As you deal with the entire news, here are a few things you must figure out to ensure you don't struggle while searching for your next job.

  • Set up health insurance. If your health insurance was through the company, you may have the option to extend the period of your insurance for a limited period of time through COBRA upon losing your health benefits. Although you might be expected to pay full premium, it could act as a buffer until you join your new job or buy a new health insurance yourself.
  • Depending on the law of your state and country, file for any unemployment benefits you may be eligible for. The government provides tremendous support to employees dealing with layoffs, so ensure you don't miss out on them.
  • Rollover or transfer your 401(k). Seek financial advice and determine how to roll over your 401(k) to an individual retirement account.
  • Determine what happens with your equity, flexible spending (FSA), and health savings accounts (HSA). Act within any specified time frame to avail the benefits you are eligible for.
  • Request a letter of verification or unemployment for your company and determine who you can put as a reference for future background checks.

5. Start networking again.

Once you've taken care of any aspects that need immediate attention, start networking again, so job opportunities start coming your way. Share a post on LinkedIn informing your connections about the layoff. 

With several layoffs this year, the LinkedIn community is actively helping people connect with recruiters from hiring companies. You can reach out to recruiters via LinkedIn and see if they're hiring for a role you are interested in. 

Focus your efforts on networking with the right people who can bring you closer to your target job.
Focus your efforts on networking with the right people who can bring you closer to your target job.

Don't forget to ask for a referral if you know someone in the company you're applying for. A referral can help you fasttrack your application and increase the chances of hearing back for interviews.

If you're looking for a referral in FAANG or big tech companies, you can join our discord server to connect with professionals from your target company. Send a message with your updated resume, link to the role you're targeting, and the company's name. If anyone in the community works in the company, you can connect with them to take it forward.

The last and most important thing...

Look after yourself. Take a pause, and give yourself time to process what has happened. If you're feeling a wide range of emotions, know it is valid to feel so. Speak to your family or friends about how you're feeling. Take time to focus on your physical and mental health. 

Remember, this is not personal. A layoff does not define you. You did the best you could, and you'll land a job where you will feel valued, and your efforts will be appreciated. 

We're rooting for you. ❤️

Also Read: Coping with a Layoff

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