Just Lost My Job – What Do I Do? Here’s 5 Steps to Take!

lost my job

“I just lost my job.” You’re probably wondering what to do next. First off, know that you’re not alone. Many people have experienced a layoff in their career. I also lost my job several years back. It’s a crappy situation to be in to say the least. I’m not going to try to sugarcoat it. What I will do is outline steps you can take to bounce back and find new opportunities.

The following tips provide simple steps you can take to start navigating your sudden unemployment, including filing for claims and key job search strategies to follow amidst the craziness of this current crisis:

Step #1: File for Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment benefits vary by state. According to DOL guidelines, you should file your claim with the state where you worked. If you live in a different state, or if you worked in multiple states, you can turn to the unemployment insurance agency where you now live for help filing your claim with other states.

To connect with your state’s unemployment website, visit the DOL’s Career One Stop.

Step #2: Assess Your Expenses

Budgeting is crucial to taking back control in your career when you’ve been let go or suffered a layoff. Make sure to factor in any severance pay and unemployment benefits, then add in your monthly expenses and determine the amount of time you can take to find a new job.

If your budget won’t allow you much time to search, you might have to consider finding a job outside your current or ideal career field. Keep in mind, if you wind up getting a temporary job or contract gig, you will learn valuable skills that you can market later on your resume and LinkedIn profile. You never know, you may wind up loving a job that initially might not be appealing.

When I lost my job, I wound up finding temporary / flexible work outside of my field. There are a wide variety of career opportunities you can get through temp agencies that can transition into full-time and / or permanent work. Try reputable agencies like Kelly Services, Robert Half, Randstad, Manpower, Aerotek, AppleOne, and Addeco. A temp job can help you generate income in the near term while you continue your job search for something more permanent down the road.

In addition to planning your budget, you can cut expenses easily by doing an inventory of your current bills and charges using a recent bank statement. When I look closely at my expenses, I often discover I’m being charged anywhere from $5-$20 per month for some club or membership that I either never opted into or don’t need anymore.

Also, many major banks are offering deferments and waiving fees. Got student loans and/or other debts? You can contact your lender and see if they offer deferments or forgiveness programs. For comprehensive resources by topic regarding economic relief opportunities, check out this recent article by the New York Times: Your Money: A Hub for Help During the Financial Crisis.

Step #3: Do a Personal Deep Dive

If your budget allows you more time to search for a new job, you might consider taking a step back to determine where you want to take your career next.

Do you want to stay in the same field you were in prior to the layoff? Or maybe you want to stay in the same career field, but you want to try working in a new setting. For example, lets say before you worked as a pharmaceutical sales representative for a large company. Maybe now you want to do online sales or work for a smaller company.

If you want a career change, do you have any idea what field you want to transition into? If you are considering a change, doing some self-reflection can be very helpful. For example, when is the last time you assessed your innate strengths, values, interests, and personality traits?

In addition to self-reflection, part of the job search process should involve seeking out career information. This can make the decision-making process a lot easier. For example, how much research have you done about your targeted field? Even if you are seeking a new job in the same field, it’s important to take a step back and do some digging. Career information databases like O’Net and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) have information like fastest growing career fields and training requirements.

Step #4: Talk to People

Even though you probably feel like hiding under a blanket and binging Netflix, it’s important not to isolate yourself for too long. Allow yourself time to grieve and wallow a little. But then force yourself to get out and talk to people.

As I like to say, “find people who know people.” I realize this sounds kind of simple. But when you understand the significance of this one phrase, you will realize how powerful it can be. For example, let’s say you happen to mention to your high school friend over a catch-up conversation at Starbucks that you are looking for a new job in marketing. “I just lost my job,” you say. “Oh, that’s interesting,” they reply while sipping on a vanilla latte. “My good friend works at ABC company as a marketing executive. Want me to introduce you? I think they might hiring.”

And that’s how it happens. One simple conversation could potentially be the thing that gets you into your dream job or company. But that’s unlikely to happen if you aren’t talking to anyone and hiding under a blanket on your couch.

Connect with your friends and family members and let them know which industry you are targeting. Put messages out on Facebook, Instagram, or SnapChat and let people know you’re looking.

LinkedIn is an amazing professional networking platform and if you’re not on it, you’re at an enormous disadvantage. LinkedIn offers step-by-step guides that walk you through how to add contacts to your professional network in a targeted, meaningful way. One of the quickest ways to get connected to a large number of professionals on LinkedIn is to search for alumni groups and associations.

Keep in mind, when it comes to growing your network to land a job, it’s quality over quantity. If you simply add hundreds of people to your network, your numbers might grow but you will probably not get the results you want.

If you need help creating a LinkedIn account, click here to get started!

In addition to LinkedIn, you can also join groups on Facebook. Be sure to also look into professional associations in your field. You often need to pay an annual fee to participate, but I’ve personally found the cost to be totally worth it. Professional associations offer frequent networking events and unlimited resources to help you in your profession.

See related The Ultimate Guide to Job Search and Four Simple Strategies to Land an Unadvertised Job

Step #5: Be kind to yourself!

Being laid off or fired can be devastating.  I know because several years ago I also lost my job. You probably feel like the rug has been pulled from underneath you. It can be tempting to hit the ground running with your job search. But if your budget allows, take a few days or weeks to do some self-care and self-reflection.

Even if you have to start looking for a new job right away, remember to treat yourself well. Do something nice for yourself every single day. This is so important that I’m going to repeat it: do something nice for yourself every single day. Even small things like a walk or stretching can make a huge difference. Setting daily and weekly goals can also help with prioritization and lessen the overwhelm in your job search.

If you want to make a career change but you’re not sure where to start or how to go about the process, check out The Ultimate Guide to Job Search. This is a simple, step by step guide to searching for and landing your next job.

In Conclusion

Just lost my job. What do I do? Hopefully this article has given you a guideline for how to get back on your feet! By following these five steps to take after a layoff, you can start to take back control in your career. Remember, you don’t have to complete all the steps at the same time. It’s important to give yourself daily and weekly goals and celebrate your small successes along the way!


Just lost my job. What should I do?

The first thing to do when you get laid off is to start assessing your financial situation and create a budget. Update your resume and start searching for new job opportunities. Consider networking, reaching out to friends and former colleagues, and utilizing online job boards. Additionally, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits, so be sure to check your eligibility and file a claim if applicable.

How can I cope if I lost my job?

Losing a job can be emotionally challenging, but there are ways to cope. Take time to process your feelings and seek support from friends or family. Stay positive and focus on self-care by maintaining a daily routine, staying active, and engaging in activities that bring you joy. Use this time as an opportunity to explore new interests or develop new skills that may enhance your job prospects in the future.

Are there any resources available to help me if I recently lost my job?

Yes, there are several resources available to assist you during this time. Look into government programs that offer unemployment benefits, job training, or career counseling services. Additionally, explore online job search platforms that provide a wide range of job opportunities. Consider joining professional networking groups or attending job fairs to connect with potential employers. Don’t hesitate to leverage your personal and professional networks for support and guidance in finding new employment.

  • Lee Cristina Beaser

    MS, CPRW (Certified Professional Resume Writer)

    Lee brings over two decades of expertise in guiding individuals towards career success. Having helped thousands of professionals in a wide variety of industries, she has a deep understanding of the intricacies of the job market. Lee founded The Career Counter, a platform dedicated to providing busy people, especially moms returning to the workforce, with tools and services tailored to their unique career goals.

    Our Founder has over 20 years of experience helping people like you

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