Losing a job can be a blow to your self-esteem, not to mention your income. Of course, getting fired for cause is certainly no picnic, either, but when you're laid off, you're effectively let go through no fault of your own, and that's a tough thing to process.

Layoffs can happen for a lot of reasons. A company can experience financial issues that force it to downsize its staff. Your team can get a new manager who decides to shift around roles, leaving you without one. No matter the circumstances of your layoff, it can be an extremely isolating experience, especially if you're the sole victim at your place of work.

Woman with sad expression carrying cardboard box out of an office.


The good news -- if you want to call it that -- is that layoffs are actually a pretty common thing. An estimated 26% of employees fall victim to them, according to outsourcing company Airtasker. If you wind up laid off, here's how to pick up the pieces.

1. File for unemployment

Losing a job doesn't have to wreck your finances. As long as you weren't fired for cause, you should be eligible for unemployment benefits. Now, these won't replace your entire paycheck, but they will cover a portion of it so that you have money coming in while you look for work. Furthermore, check with your employer to see if you're entitled to any additional compensation in the form of severance money or unused vacation days you get paid out for. The less financial worries you have following a layoff, the better.

2. Update your resume

The act of updating your resume could be just the thing to remind yourself of what an appealing job candidate you are. As you go through that document, think about the skills you've picked up and the many things you've learned since you last created it. Ideally, it will give you the confidence you need to move forward with a successful job search.

3. Network aggressively

The more people you network with, the greater your chances of finding a job after a layoff. To this end, it pays to reach out to friends, friends of friends, former colleagues, old neighbors, and anyone else who you think might help you discover new opportunities. Furthermore, don't be afraid to solicit some much-deserved sympathy. If people feel bad for you because you got laid off, they may be more inclined to make an extra effort to help you.

4. Have an interview pitch ready

Once you start landing interviews, the topic of your departure from your last job is apt to come up, so it helps to go in prepared knowing what to say. Lying about getting laid off is never a good idea, so instead, be honest about what happened, but also, spin it into a positive thing. For example, you might say something like, "Losing my job due to factors outside my control was disappointing, but it helped me refocus on a new career path that I'm really excited about."

Getting laid off isn't easy, but it happens pretty frequently. Rather than wallow following a layoff, use that unfortunate circumstance as an opportunity to regroup and explore new possibilities. With any luck, you'll find a rewarding new job that serves you well for as long as you want it to.