Laid Off, Now What? | How To Successfully Rebound Quickly

Jalen Carter
9 May 2024
9 min read

Experiencing a layoff is an unfortunate reality many of us face. The past 18-30 months have shown us how abrupt and widespread they can be. I still recall the shock of being laid off in 2021, with a toddler at home and another child on the way.

On average, it takes 3-6 months to land your next opportunity. Within this time, you may feel a lot of different difficult emotions. While it may be tempting to take a break, it is important to start this process as soon as possible to build momentum. There will be natural times for breaks in between applications and messages. If it’s appropriate, take a self-care day, once the seeds have been planted.

In this guide, I'll offer practical, time-bound steps to assist you in a swift re-entry into the workforce, drawing from my own experience navigating a layoff and as a recruiter.

Background on layoffs

It is helpful to understand why companies experience layoffs. Some common reasons are: 

  1. Strategic pivot. Company divesting from a specific vertical or market, for example e.g. we no longer want to pursue blockchain so everyone in blockchain, no matter their performance will be laid off.
  2. Geography. For example, the company is pivoting from remote/hybrid to in-office 5 days a week, or is completely pulling out of a region/ state, for example a company completely pulling out of North Carolina.
  3. Divesting from a job family. Independent of performance, sometimes companies will lay off most of a job family, e.g. recruiters, designers, support staff, etc.  
  4. Business unit performance. Cut back on payroll expenses due to over-hiring or the business underperforming.
  5. Recruiting error. The recruiting strategy was at fault. (Too many people that do the same thing instead of a diverse team that can cover more ground.)
  6. Widespread underperformance. Too many underperforming employees so the company has to clean house and start over. 

Although not always the case, companies typically retain their top 10% of talent, with the bottom 20% of performers often being included in the initial rounds of layoffs. Recruiters are aware of this trend so it is in your best interest to come prepared to speak to this situation.

Within 24 hours of the notice

Reflect on why you were let go

It is vital to understand your performance and why you are a part of the group being laid off. This is likely to come up with future recruiters and may impact the work you do going forward.

Some forces, like the ones above, are outside of your control. Spend time understanding those within your control. Discuss with your manager or HR representative during the exit interview about the why you were included in the layoffs and get a deep understanding of how you performed in that role. Ask questions like:

  • What did I do really well during my time here?
  • What impact did my work have on the company?
  • Where could I improve?

This feedback is something you can leverage when updating your resume and speaking about your impact during interviews.

Connect with your former coworkers on LinkedIn

You want to connect with coworkers to expand the power of your network. This will help ensure you have a good-sized audience when you take to LinkedIn that you are on the search.

Take inventory of your work

Write a list of the projects you’ve done on a sheet of paper. Be sure to include any work that you've done as a core part of your job as well as side projects. Assess their impact on the business using insights from your exit interview, focusing on factors such as revenue, partnerships, user acquisition, number of impressions, etc.

Ask your manager about what work you can and can't share publicly. Being able to talk about, and furthermore show, your work will make all the difference when talking to future employers. For more on how to protect confidentiality, review this article.

First day post-separation

Update your resume, LinkedIn, and portfolio

Make sure you have a portfolio or resume available so that it's easy for employers to start moving you along. Update the essentials so that when you start reaching out to people, you have something ready for them. This includes:

  • Highlighting your accomplishments. For your resume and LinkedIn, update your previous roles and responsibilities. Highlight the business impacts that were accomplished in your roles using what you discussed with your manager and HR representative.
  • Synchronize your resume and LinkedIn. Make sure that your LinkedIn profile is up to date and reflects the content that is on your resume. You can summarize your responsibilities or copy and paste it onto your Linkedin profile.
  • Collect recommendations. Ask former colleagues that you trust and have seen your best work to leave a recommendation on your LinkedIn or leave a referral on your Pearl portfolio.
  • Change your employment dates. Change the dates on your resumes, LinkedIn, and portfolio to reflect when you left your most recent role.

By Day 3

Set yourself as “Open to Work” on LinkedIn

Set your LinkedIn status to “Open To Work” and add the banner to your profile picture.

Once you set your status to open to work recruiters are notified. Because of the volume of candidates, most recruiters will give your profile one quick pass before moving to the next. Make sure your profile and work are ready to make an impact when you flip the switch.

Pro-tip: Make sure you have a portfolio or resume available so that anyone interested in your skillset can easily access you.

What we see as recruiters

Involve your network

Go to LinkedIn to announce that you're available for new opportunities. Recruiters keep a close eye on who gets laid off; make it easier for them to find you by putting yourself out there. Some tips to get on their radar:

  • Use hashtags. Be mindful of any hashtags that are relevant to you being laid off and leverage those in your post to gain more traction, e.g. #OpenToWork, #[COMPANY]Layoffs, #OpenNewOpportunities, #Product, #[COMPANY], #ONO.
  • Reach out to close colleagues in your network. Inform them that you have been laid off and are looking for your next opportunity. If nothing is available at their respective companies then an easy ask is for them to “like” your post and to reshare it to extend the reach.

An example LinkedIn status

Pro-Tip: Many recruiters share profiles of laid-off individuals among their peers, sometimes up to 10,000 recruiters. Once your profile enters this recruiting back channel, it receives exposure to a vast network.

Sample message in our recruiter network.

Update — or start — your portfolio

With record-breaking layoffs in tech, the job search is getting more competitive. Resumes are no longer enough to help you stand out. This is especially true if you come from a non-traditional background.

We wrote about some of the limitations of resumes, and the rising role of portfolios. Put the work that you documented on Day 1 to use in a portfolio. For a reminder, this is where we recommend getting started:

  • Portfolio-builders (e.g. Pearl): The quickest and most comprehensive option. Create a shareable portfolio on Pearl, that you can easily track, collect feedback on, and add your work to. Use our templates designed with and for hiring managers.
  • Website builders (e.g. Cargo, Wix, Squarespace): This is the most expressive option. They can be great tools for the most flexibility in telling your story and for wowing hiring teams. If you have the time and interest, it can do just about anything you want.
  • Improvised portfolios (e.g. Google Slides, Notion, PowerPoint, Canva): These are good in a pinch. They’re often familiar, user friendly, and give you the tools to tell your story in a way that employers receive well. For analytics, some combine with link tracking services like

Pro-tip: When people reach out to you, or vice-versa, share your portfolio!

By Day 7

Start filling out applications

You only get the job offers you apply for. Making sure that you're in the company's pipeline is essential.

Start reviewing and filling out job applications following our guide. This approach is relevant if you're applying for similar roles, a step up, or a step into a new role.

Pro-tip: Prioritize applying on the company's site.

Begin outreach

The importance of talking to a human being at the company cannot be overstated. Your odds balloon when you get in front of someone involved in the hiring process.

The most straightforward way is to connect with recruiters at companies who are hiring. Recruiters are incentivized to help you. Also, consider asking your warm connections for intros to recruiters, hiring managers, or industry peers at the company. Learn how to help them help you with our article.

Pro-tip: Get used to asking, "who else should I talk to," and "can you make an introduction?" Usually within 1-3 conversations you can get connected to the key decision makers.

Get feedback

Feedback is golden. Asking for and actioning on feedback does two important things:

  1. Makes you better, which improves your odds.
  2. Shows that you're coachable and open to learning, which improves your odds.

Request feedback from the recruiters that you are interacting with and trusted peers in your network. Ask them which aspects of your background and experience are most compelling, most concerning, and what they recommend doing to improve.

Do your own independent research as well. Look at job descriptions, the profiles, and portfolios of people already hired. Consider what you should be talking about in your resumes and portfolios.

Day 30 and beyond

Reflect and adjust

Hopefully by now you’re making progress in your search. If that is not the case, try not to feel discouraged. Take some time to reflect on your journey so far by considering the following:

  • Are people responding to you? What are the patterns in people who respond to you? What is not working?
  • Are people reviewing your work, i.e. resume, LinkedIn, portfolio? Who, when and where? (If you don't know, use Pearl analytics or a link tracking service.)
  • What has been holding me back from applying to more jobs? (i.e. salary requirements, location of work, industry, etc.) These can sometimes be self sabotaging and prevent you from getting that next role.
  • What have you done to up-level your skills during this time? This is the perfect time to do any rebranding necessary for your next move.

Follow up and stay persistent

Follow up with your recruiters on the status of your candidacy for their role. Also ask recruiters to keep you in mind for any future opportunities if this one doesn’t work out. Being proactive about mentioning future considerations will help you stand out. By staying persistent and maintaining open communication with recruiters will increase your chances of securing a new position.


The first 14 days of being laid off are crucial, as you will be competing with others impacted by layoffs as well plus everyone else looking. To best position yourself, you have to act fast and intentionally.

It's possible, even likely, that you will get ghosted and rejected many times. It's worth remembering that this the job search will end, that persistence pays off, and getting laid off is not a reflection of your personal value. By staying positive and continuously improving your portfolio and interview skills, you increase your chances of landing the job you want.

Jalen Carter
9 May 2024
9 min read
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