Businessman sitting on the floor after failure and layoff. Man unemployed from company sitting sad outside at overpass background. Men fired from job. Stress manager sit alone.

I Got Laid Off Without Warning. Now What?

If you have just been laid off early into the new year, you may be left feeling confused and unsure of the future.  It is normal to experience emotions that mimic grief, from sadness and anger to confusion and depression.  You are not the first person to experience a sudden layoff so, take some advice from those who have gone through this before and take steps to secure your future by first understanding what you should do in your current situation.  If you are wondering what your rights are and what your next step should be, this article will shed some light on the subject for you.  Regardless of when it occurred, a sudden layoff can have a significant impact on both your personal and professional life.  Here are a few things to consider when deciding what to do next following a sudden layoff. 

Can a Company Lay You Off Without Telling You?

lady that's been laid off taking her things out of the office

Aside from The WARN Act, which requires companies who have over 100 employees to give a 60-day notice before mass layoffs, there is not much protection against a sudden layoff.

Although some exceptions may apply, for businesses in financial constraints, causing prompt layoffs without notice due to unforeseen business circumstances can lead to a layoff without notice.  It is imperative that you talk with a qualified professional before taking any recourse against your former employer simply because layoff requirements do vary by state.  A professional will be able to help you understand your rights if you find yourself asking, “If a company lays you off can they hire someone else?” Once you talk with a professional, you may find that you have some protection against being laid off unfairly.

Can an Employer Lay You Off Without Notice?

There are a number of factors that can make a layoff even more difficult such as being laid off but asked to train a replacement, or being laid off right after being hired.  Regardless of how long you were at your previous employer, knowing your rights is very important.  You might be entitled to severance pay and other benefits, depending on the company policy and state laws.  If you feel you are being laid off unfairly from your employer, consult with an employment attorney regarding your situation to help you understand your rights.  A professional may even be able to help you if you have found yourself saying, “I was laid off and they hired someone else.”

older man being laid off

Does Being Laid Off Make It Harder to Get a Job?

Young woman talking to member of human resource team while applying for job in the office.

There is a common misconception in regards to layoffs and that is that it will be harder for you to get a job in the future.  This is definitely not the case.  Rest assured, this is not the end of your career.  Most companies understand the complexity behind layoffs, knowing they are more of a reflection on the company itself rather than the employees who have been laid off.  The individual on the other side of a layoff is typically not at fault and assumes no responsibility in the matter.  Businesses understand this and it is important that you do as well.  If you were fired, that is one thing.  However, being laid off says something about the condition of the company rather than causing any negativity towards the former employee.  You can move beyond this experience a little quicker if you stay positive and approach this ending as a new beginning.  Look at this as a chance to approach your job search with confidence, knowing the skills and experience you bring to the table, not to mention, a positive attitude!

If you have any knowledge of the reason behind the layoff, it might be good to share that information when meeting with a future employer.  Be it restructuring, downsizing, or outsourcing, the key to surviving a layoff is simply recognizing your strengths and adaptability to these significant changes.

Who Typically Gets Laid Off First?

In the past, last in was typically first out when it came to layoffs.  However, tenor does not always equate to job security any longer.  These decisions are often much more complex, taking into consideration things such as what skills an employee brings to the table, if they are able to generate revenue and if they have the ability to adapt quickly to changes, among other things.  Other factors that come into play when determining who gets laid off first have to do with their role within the company.  Some positions within a company may have been deemed unnecessary due to outsourcing certain tasks or the addition of new technology that could cause a corporate restructuring.  Departments that are not considered essential to core operations or lacking the ability to generate revenue might also find themselves some of the first to go as well.   There are often broader business needs that come into play when it comes to layoffs so trying to analyze the situation without seeing the full picture is not always the best option.  Just remember that most often, layoffs are not related to performance but more so about the structure of the company itself.

Employment. Diverse Unemployed Business People Applicants With Resume Waiting For Job Interview Sitting In A Row Indoor. Career Opportunity, Recruitment Concept. Panorama, Selective Focus

How to Say You Were Laid Off in an Interview

Handsome young man demonstrating his sketch while talking about his new project

It is not easy bringing up the subject of a layoff, especially when in an interview.  One thing to remember when going into an interview following a layoff is that companies understand that the circumstances are often due to things that are out of your control.  Although a layoff can still cause angst and concern in your life, it is not the end of the road for you or your career.  It is important to approach any new interviews with confidence and the willingness to open up about the situation.  Make sure you are transparent during the interview, especially when it comes to sharing the news about being laid off without notice.  After you have addressed this concern, be sure you remain positive and move on in the interview.  Do not stay stuck on the subject, gossip or talk poorly about your former employer. They will want to know that you can keep a positive attitude, are able to adapt to new situations, are looking forward to a fresh start, to learning new skills and are resilient following what could have been a very difficult time.  In the interview, focus on how the situation has led to new opportunities, like this one, and how appreciative you are of the skills you have obtained while with your previous employer.

Is a Layoff Considered Termination Without Cause?

When trying to determine the culprit behind a layoff, understand that it may be a combination of complex external factors that affect a company.  Because it likely has nothing to do with an employee’s behavior or performance, a layoff can be considered termination without cause.  However justifiable the layoff may be, it does not negate the fact that an employee who is laid off is entitled to severance pay and benefits.  Find a trusted friend, colleague or professional who can help you check into the corporate policy on layoffs as well as unemployment benefits due to the termination.  When it comes to future jobs, layoffs are in your favor because they can be considered a layoff termination without cause, easing your mind as you begin searching for new employment.  Be sure to explain to a potential employer during the interview process what has occurred.  Understanding that a layoff had nothing to do with you personally and is no reflection of your work effort might just give you the peace of mind you need and the confidence when going into an interview.


What is the First Thing Someone Should Do If They Are Laid Off?

Man looking for a job

You may be feeling overwhelmed following a layoff, which is to be expected.  However, it is important before leaving that you understand your rights, gather all of the important information regarding your termination including severance packages, unemployment benefits and layoff requirements by state.  If your employer has over 100 employees and did not give at least 60 days prior to layoffs, you may just be entitled to take actionable recourse as this means they did not comply with the WARN Act.  Seek a qualified professional so that you can understand your legal rights and are ready to move on when it is time to shift your focus to the future.

Many people use this unplanned time off to relax and regroup.  Consider taking time to thoughtfully update your resume, adding any skills, certifications, etc that you have acquired since you last made any changes to it.  While you continue to explore new job opportunities, keep your eyes open on social media and reach out to potential employers.  Touch base with your network to let them know where you stand and see if anyone has any leads on companies you might be interested in.  It is common to come across others who have experienced layoffs as well, so networking might prove to be one of the most healing things you can experience afterwards.  Many have navigated this challenge successfully and have found themselves in a more suitable position with a more stable company once they have moved on. Rather than evaluating your self-worth or value within a company, knowing that it just couldn’t be avoided might just change your perspective on being let go.

: Fired employee: sad young woman with curly hair packing office stuff while leaving office, she putting potted plant into box

Why Do Companies Lay Off Without Warning?

woman who was laid off standing on steps

There are a number of reasons a company may layoff employees without warning.  It may have been a strategic realignment, corporate restructuring or even shifts in market demand.  In other cases, with the increase in technological advances, businesses are finding it easier to streamline their processes by outsourcing projects and tasks that may have previously been done in house. However, some companies find themselves in a sudden financial downturn, needing to make changes happen quickly in order to stay afloat.  In these situations, they may have let go employees with longer standing within the company to save funds, just to rehire someone with the same skills and less experience.  These complex decisions are not easy for anyone.  It can have a detrimental effect on the company’s image as well as on their ability to hire quality individuals in the future.

Knowing the strategic and economic considerations that come into play, it is best to assume layoffs have nothing to do with your performance.  This can provide some comfort to those who find themselves in this position and give them a boost of confidence when speaking with a potential new employer.  Although it is tough to experience, layoffs are not a hopeless obstacle to overcome.  Be sure you begin with the end in mind, adopting the mindset that you will be better off in the long run.  Know your rights, get your resume up to date, and look ahead with a positive attitude.  This new beginning could mean growth in your career, opportunities for advancement and a chance to learn new skills.  A layoff is only a setback that you can use to catapult yourself to your next employer, not a reflection of your capabilities or value to a company.

Desperately fired female office worker employee hands her employer her resignation letter, packs her belongings in a cardboard box, and shaking hands with boss concept dismissal and unemployment.