Getting laid off is one of life’s most stressful events. It uproots you from a major part of your life, and raises some anxiety-inducing questions: “When will I find work again?” “Will I be able to support myself and those who depend on me?” “What does this mean for my career?” “Will I be OK?”

Over 17,000 tech workers lost their jobs since May of 2022, according to, a database that tracks publicly-announced layoffs. This brutal figure was a culmination of many different factors: diminishing availability of venture capital, market volatility, war, and inflation, to name just a few.

While this industry trend may look grim, at the time of this article’s publishing, the tech job market is still hot. It’s important to keep an eye on the market for any changes, but for the time being, take heart in the fact that there’s still demand for workers in the industry.

This rash of layoffs has left a lot of people feeling bewildered and scared, not knowing what the future holds. It can be difficult to find your footing when everything feels out of your control, but with some self-compassion and a strategic approach to your job search, you can boost your chances of finding something soon. 

Whether you’ve recently lost your job and need guidance for how to land on your feet, or you’re worried your employer is about to restructure, there are a few things you can do in the event of a layoff to give yourself better chances of weathering the storm.

Take time to heal

First and foremost, check in with yourself emotionally and take time to process what happened. If you’re taking care of your mental health from day one, it will help put you in the right mindset for your everyday life and your work search.

Layoffs take a significant emotional and physical toll, and can bring up some pretty powerful emotions. It’s important to acknowledge and name these emotions to help work through them. Grief, sadness, betrayal, depression, anger, and loss of control are just some of the common emotions people feel in the wake of a layoff. You may also notice changes in your body: Fatigue, changes in appetite, headaches, changes in sleeping patterns, muscle pain, and even nausea are commonly reported among people who have experienced job loss.

If possible, seeking guidance from a licensed mental health professional can help put you in a better mental space to be able to achieve your goals, even if you don’t think your situation is “bad enough” to warrant it. 

However, depending on your individual circumstances or geographic region, professional help isn’t always the most accessible option. This is especially true for workers in the U.S., whose healthcare coverage is typically tied to their employers. Low cost mental healthcare options do exist, though, and it’s worth it to explore what resources exist in your region and online. Apps like Talkspace and BetterHelp are great if you have limited local resources or prefer digital appointments. 

And of course, talking with trusted friends and family goes a long way too. It may not be the same as professional counseling, but staying socially connected is important for your wellbeing when you’re reeling from a layoff. 

It’s also important to take time to rest and do things that bring you joy. Even spending a short amount of time decompressing can do wonders. When you’re looking for work, you’re often in fight-or-flight mode and anything that feels like leisure can feel like wasted time. However,when you dive into the job search, you’ll want to be in a positive frame of mind, and doing things that bring you joy will help put you there. Even taking a short break every day to practice self-care can help you get in the right mindset for the job search.

Let people know you’re looking

If you’re looking for work, don’t keep it a secret! Anyone you know, whether they’re in your professional or personal network, can be a potential connection to your next great gig. There’s no shame in being between jobs, and if you’ve forged good relationships with people in your work and personal life, you’ll find a whole world of people who will be ready and willing to help.

Regardless of if you’ve been laid off or are seeing some warning signs of impending layoffs at your company, make sure your LinkedIn and resume are updated. Mark yourself as “open to work” on LinkedIn and get posting to build your personal brand.

Depending on your role, you’ll also want to update your portfolio, or build a portfolio if you don’t have one yet. Whether your work lives on GitHub, a personal website, or another platform, you’ll want to make sure all your latest projects are in there for future employers to see.

It’s also worth looking into professional communities like Systematic in your industry. Leveraging job boards, resources, forums, and communities that connect you with like-minded people in your field can grow your network and open you up to more opportunities.  

Find the right framing

Having a layoff in your work history can be stressful because it means you have an employment gap to explain, and that can be scary.

However, layoffs are a common occurrence in today’s labor market. In one survey, 28% of employed Americans reported having been laid off at least once in the past two years, and another poll revealed at least 40% of Americans have experienced a layoff at some point in their careers. Because of that, a reasonable employer is unlikely to judge you for having a layoff on your record. If they do judge, consider it a red flag.

Despite how commonplace layoffs are, you’ll want to frame yours in a way that’s brief, objective, and upbeat so you can show prospective employers where you came from, where you are, and what you envision for your future.

To form a positive and growth-oriented narrative, structure it around the past, present, and future. One example to follow would be: “My former company underwent a significant restructuring. This has given me the opportunity to reassess what I’m looking for in my career, and I’m looking for a role that [insert goal here].”

Showing prospective employers that you can take a setback in life and turn it into an opportunity demonstrates many positive traits: growth mindset, critical thinking, problem-solving, and a positive outlook, just to name a few.

Assess your finances and file for unemployment

Assessing your finances is a necessary step for anyone who has just been laid off, but also helpful preparation for those who are worried about potential future layoffs. Do an assessment of your current living expenses, your household budget, any severance or unemployment benefits you’ll be receiving, any savings or retirement you may have, any additional assets you may have, and any other income that your household may receive while you look for work. This will help you get a sense of how long you can survive in-between jobs, and where you may need to make changes to create more of a cushion in your finances.

It’s critical to involve your entire household in this financial reevaluation, including partners and dependents, so everyone is on the same page when it comes to the change in income.

You’ll also want to file for unemployment immediately––on your last day at your former employer if possible. Depending on how your local unemployment office operates, there’s often a lag of about a week (or more) between when you file for unemployment benefits and when you start receiving them, so it’s best to file immediately so you can receive benefits as soon as possible.

While the unemployment application process varies based on state or country, your employer will likely give you a pamphlet on how to apply for unemployment benefits online, by phone, or by mail with your local unemployment agency. It’s the employer’s legal responsibility to provide you with this information regardless of the nature of the separation.

The application takes awhile to complete, but it’s worth it to take the time to fill it out accurately and follow all the instructions as best as you can. This will lessen the chances of any hiccups in the process.

If you’re approved for unemployment, you’ll have to certify regularly to receive payments. This means you’ll have to report your work search to the unemployment office to show them that you’re actively looking for work. Depending on your region, you’ll certify weekly or every two weeks, either by mail, by phone, or online. 

How you certify has a huge impact on your ability to receive benefits. If you report not looking for work for a week or more, or if you report turning down a job offer, you may lose the ability to collect benefits. Make sure that you look for work every week, and track your work search efforts so you can report them to the unemployment office if necessary. 

Many states and countries also allow people to work part-time while receiving unemployment benefits. This is a great way to add work to your resume while you’re looking for something more permanent. Plus, when you deduct part-time pay, this can help stretch your benefit amount over a longer period of time than if you claim the entire weekly amount each pay period. Check with your local employment development office to find out if part-time work is an option for you.

Cast your net strategically

While you should cast as wide a net as possible, that doesn’t mean spamming your resume to every single job listing you see. Writing a compelling application takes time, and requires more than to fill out a form, attach a resume, and hit “send.”

Do your research on each company you apply for, identify what it is they need, and tailor your cover letter and resume to prove that you have the skillset that fulfills their needs.

Plus, through this in-depth research, you may find that a particular position isn’t actually what you want, or you may discover that the company you were about to apply to is misaligned with your values. 

It’s better in the long run to spend your time wisely looking for potential good fits rather than chasing after opportunities you’re not that excited about. If you’re on unemployment benefits and you interview for a job you don’t really want, and that employer sends you an offer, turning it down could mean termination of your unemployment benefits. These laws vary by region, but for your short-term finances and for your overall career, it’s best to search strategically––you don’t want to get stuck in a job or company that’s a bad fit.

Make a sincere effort…

Don’t get discouraged, and apply sincerely and consistently every week. Keep that positive mindset going and you’ll see opportunities arise that you otherwise may have missed.

If you find that you’re not getting out of the house enough and the job boards aren’t yielding much, find a way to look for opportunities outside of the digital world. Schedule a business lunch with someone from your professional network. This can be a former colleague, a friend of a friend, or anyone you think could give you some good professional advice and would be down to get a burrito in the middle of the day. 

Make sure they know you’re looking for work, and make the most you can out of your time, whether you need some sage advice, a lead, or someone to look over your resume. This is also a great way to boost your confidence and reinforce professional relationships.

…but don’t obsess

Don’t let your work search consume you. Being glued to screens and obsessing over job boards into the wee hours of the night is bound to wreak havoc on your mental and physical health. It’s important to prioritize movement, a good night’s sleep, and proper nutrition in your routine. These things will sustain you in your day-to-day life.

Also be aware of self-blame. If you’re coming up dry in your search, it’s easy to spiral into negative self-talk. You may ask yourself if you could have done more to prevent it happening to you, or you may wonder whether you’re good enough for anyone to hire.

These thoughts are common, but remember that they won’t help you; they’ll just make you feel bad. You can’t control everything that happens to you, but you can control how you respond to it. And how you respond will make all the difference moving forward. Remember to practice self-compassion, and be wary of patterns of negative self-talk that will stifle your ability to move forward.

The way forward

Losing a job can feel like losing a part of yourself. It’s where we spend the majority of our waking hours, and it can be hard to lose such a large part of our lives in an instant.

If you feel this loss of a sense of self, know that you have value as a human being, full stop. Your value isn’t dependent on your employment status.

Repeat after me:
My work is not my identity.

When the job search feels heavy on your heart, step away from the screen for a bit. Stretch. Go for a walk. Eat something nourishing. Talk to someone you love. Write down three things you’re looking forward to. Surround yourself with supportive people and positive experiences that make you feel whole. 

Then take that energy and use it as you forge your path forward.

You got this.

Tech career resources

Systematic Job Board: Our community-driven job board for the Business Technology industry

Diversify Tech: Career resources and job board for underrepresented people in tech

Elpha and Tech Ladies: Job boards and communities for women in tech

White Truffle: A tech job matchmaking service

CrunchBoard: TechCrunch’s tech job board

Unemployment Help: A central hub to answer all your unemployment questions (US only) Career One Stop: US government site listing every state’s unemployment filing procedures

Amber von Nagel
About Amber von Nagel

Amber von Nagel is a Content Specialist at Workato.