Here’s What To Do If You’ve Been Laid Off Or Fired

4 min read

Here's What To Do If You've Been Laid Off Or Fired

Losing your job can be one of the most scariest and stressful times of your life. Questions like “what do I do now” or “what happens next” can come flooding into your mind you have no idea where to even start. These are very very tough times so the question now is, what do you do if you’re laid off or fired?

All hope is not lost, and you’re not alone. Millions of people have been laid off or fired during very uncertain times, and they are frantically trying to figure out their next steps.

So here’s what you can do if you’ve been laid off or fired.

Fired, Laid off, or Furloughed. What’s it all mean?

First off, let’s make sure we understand the terms used and if it applies to you:

  • Being Fired means your job has been terminated because of something you did wrong
  • Being Furloughed means your job is basically letting you go into unpaid leave until further notice. Your job and position at your employer are still in-tact
  • Being Laid Off means your job has been terminated because of something your employer did

It’s easy to mix up the 3 different terms.

But there’s something important to remember! If you’ve been laid off (or even furloughed), there’s nothing wrong that you did! The company did this because of multiple reasons. Maybe:

  • The business was acquired and they are restructuring
  • The business could not afford to keep you employed
  • The business is going bankrupt
  • etc

Notice how none of those things have anything to do with you. So if you’re feeling depressed, confused, or sad that maybe you did something wrong, you didn’t! So chin up, let’s figure out what you should do next.

1. Collect your final paycheck

So first thing’s first. Make sure you collect your final paycheck from your employer. Depending on your circumstance, state, and employer, your last paycheck may be paid immediately, or there might be a bit of a lag. Typically, you receive your last paycheck a week or two after your last day.

Also remember that, depending on your employer, you might have accrued overtime, sick leave, and maybe vacation time. Depending on your employment contract, you might also be entitled to get paid for these accruals once you leave your job. So make sure you talk to HR about this.

Lastly, unless you have a job lined up right after this, you’ll likely need to make this last paycheck go a long way while you’re in the middle of it all. We’ll talk more about this shortly.

2. Check if you receive severance pay

Severance pay is sometimes awarded to employees once they lose employment. This severance pay is typically based on how long an employee has been employed and also determines the amount received. Not all employers give severance pay so make sure you reach out to HR and see if you’ll be awarded this.

3. Check on your insurance

Here’s is where most people falter, but it’s a very very important thing to take into consideration. One of the first things you need to look into is the current status of your health insurance.

Chances are, while you were employed, you had health insurance with your employer. You need to make sure that either your current health insurance continues for a period of time, or if it’s immediately terminated. If you’re good here, then you can go on to the next step.


One research states that Medical bills are reported to be the number one cause of U.S. bankruptcies. 62.1% of bankruptcies in America were caused by medical issues.

Life happens, and it continues to happen even if you’re laid off or fired. So make sure to take care of yourself, your family, and make sure you have health insurance in place. There are low-cost options out there on the Health Insurance Marketplace, so make sure you research them!

4. Tighten up your budget

This part is essential and very critical. Being laid off or fired typically means that there is no more steady income coming in from having a job. If you don’t have a budget, it’s absolutely vital that you make one now.

Here’s a free download to start budgeting:

Make sure you sit down, list all your monthly expenses, and see where you can cut out things. That Netflix subscription, or StichFix, or maybe cable? Consider cutting them out. Hopefully, if you were always dilligent, you have 3 – 6 months in your emergency fund. You want that to stretch as long as possible.

If you didn’t have that emergency fund, then you should also consider cutting even more from your expenses.

Definitely check out these articles:

5. File for unemployment benefits

If you’ve been laid off from your job at no fault of your own, then you should be able to file for unemployment benefits. A commonly asked question is how much do you get and for how long? That’s a difficult question to answer.

Every state is different, so the benefits and requirements are different, so make sure you do your research and check your state’s requirements. Some states even allow you to file online, so it’s as easy as entering information into a system and get a response as soon as they get to you. Don’t hold off on doing this. The sooner you do so, the better.

6. Reach out to family and friends

Something to really consider is to reach out to your closest family and friends. Having emotional support is absolutely vital during a time of fear and uncertainty.

In some instances, family and friends could also provide you financial support while you ride the storm. So make sure that, when you’re emotionally ready, you reach out to them and share your circumstances and situation. Words of encouragement can go a long way, so do all you can to get the emotional support that you might need.

7. Start job hunting

Yes, I know this time is hard for you, but it’s no time to cuddle up in bed and hope it all goes away! Get on those job boards and start job hunting!

Remember that that dusty resume you wrote a while ago? Time to bust it out and give it a new polish! Get yourself out there and start applying to jobs. Check regularly to find opportunities that match your skill.

8. Use this time to better yourself

What better time to improve on yourself than when you’re home all day long while you look for a new job? We live in a time that there is so much knowledge out there, it’s hard to even figure out where to even start! So here are some places to get you started:

Final Remarks

The toughest times make you the strongest person. Tough times test your patience, perseverance, and force you out of your comfort zone. Take this time to show yourself that you have what it takes to weather the storm and come out on the other side stronger and better than ever.

I know, it’s hard to even believe that’s possible, but here’s the thing. If you look back throughout your life and think of the hardest and toughest things you’ve ever had to go through, you probably thought you could ever make it out alive! But here you are, alive and well!

This is just another obstacle that you’ll look back years from now and think phew, I didn’t think I was going to make it through that! Positivity goes a long way, so stay positive and take your first steps today!

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What To Do If You've Been Laid Off Or Fired

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