Tips on How to Handle a Layoff

Experiencing a layoff can lead to a range of emotions that leave people feeling anywhere from embarrassed to devastated. But it is becoming more and more evident that being out of a job is not indicative of being an outcast. Certain steps can be taken to accept these circumstances and move one’s career forward.

Joe Darrah

January 11, 2023

8 Min Read
Image courtesy of No-Mad/Getty Images

More layoffs are occurring today since the coronavirus pandemic began. According to the most recently available data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,1 more than 17 million employees in the United States were laid off in 2021. Additionally, some 40% of working Americans have been laid off or terminated from a job at least once already during their careers, 28% of workers have been laid off in the past two years alone,2 and up to 13% more jobs could be lost in 2022.2 All this said, a reported 48% of Americans experience what is characterized as “layoff anxiety.”

Despite these unflattering statistics, the job market today favors employment candidates, says Marissa Marsala, an executive recruiter, career transition strategist, and career coach who manages her own consultancy service - Employer & Candidate Connection - in San Diego, CA.

While the threat of being laid off or the reality of being laid off can invoke emotionally charged behaviors, Marsala suggests that responding to a layoff takes a somewhat calculated approach if the plan is to secure future employment as quickly as possible.

“Finding a job takes hard work, but if you are properly prepared mentally, strategically, and tactically, you will reach your goal much more quickly and typically land better, with more confidence that you’ve accepted the right role,” she said.

To assist those med-tech professionals who might be beginning 2023 by evaluating their current and future employment opportunities, Marsala and MD+DI offer a series of three strategies that can help to guide the next steps.

  1. Assess And Adjust Your Mental State

It’s certainly acceptable to process various emotions at the time of being laid off. We often define ourselves by our jobs, even when we’re working in an environment that is less than our ideal. If news of being laid off has come without warning, this can add to the frustration that is felt when a job is lost and cause more difficulty keeping our emotions in check. “Few people feel relief when they are laid off,” said Marsala. “Most who are laid off are blindsided or feel shell-shocked, and some experience feelings of betrayal, anger, resentment, embarrassment, depression, extreme duress, and a host of other emotions.”

At these times, Marsala says it is especially important to consider the positives that might exist to being forced into a career pivot. “A candidate's mood and their ability to be resilient and to bounce back are pivotal,” she said. “Although it may go against someone’s instincts, there can be positives to being laid off. In some cases, the time off to recalibrate one's career can be a blessing in disguise.” Personal circumstances, such as the need to care for an aging loved one or to be more of a presence in the home for younger children, especially when considering the effects of the recent pandemic, are examples of how a healthy outlook can be important for multiple reasons. Regardless of the situation, Marsala suggests taking some time to reflect, express emotions, and even grieve, if appropriate. “All things being equal, one's mental point of view has a lot to do with how quickly we land and can detrimentally affect our success in recognizing a suitable role,” Marsala said. “Do your best to work through the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance to a sense of wonder, anticipation, taking the reins and taking control, remaining determined and vigilant, and powering forward to find and land your next great role. By taking progressive steps, you can chip away at doing the steps necessary to ensure the best possible outcome.”

Being mentally ready also allows us to be creative and curious about applying our skills in a higher-level role or the possibility of changing careers if that is a consideration, Marsala said.

  1. Prepare To Be Successful

According to Marsala, the more specific you are about the next job you are seeking, the sooner you will find the next job that you want. “Be prepared to invest at least 30 hours per week to the job search, giving yourself breaks to provide mental and physical balance as well as to spend time with family and friends, and to engage in social activities,” she said. “But also, be prepared to engage with new people you are introduced to.”

This type of networking should be an extension of ongoing networking that has already occurred to this point in one’s career, Marsala advises. To make the most of networking time, Marsala suggests creating an email distribution list that contains those contacts with whom you've worked closely, as well as friends, schoolmates, and those from professional networks such as college alumni groups and industry-specific groups.

“Studies show that the majority of people are hired based on their network contacts, particularly when it comes to jobs that are specialized,” Marsala said. “From the employer side, it saves companies money and time to hire a recommended individual. You’re a known commodity at that point. The company is avoiding recruitment fees. The employee is putting their reputation on the line. It’s a faster process.”

Marsala also suggests developing a target list of companies that match your career goals with each company’s career opportunities and researching websites such as LinkedIn, Indeed, and Zip Recruiter for jobs that contain the skills that you want to leverage in your next role. 

For “internal purposes,” Marsala also sees value in preparing a so-called personal marketing plan that provides a reminder of who you are from a professional context and serves as reference material for a variety of needs. Information can include desirable skills that you possess, a list of relevant job experience that’s based on the job titles being targeted, and a recap of promotions or bonuses received and/or performance appraisals that went well. 

“We often forget why we are recognized for a job well done, and this type of material can be fodder for resumes, cover letters, and, of course, the job interview,” she said. “This will remind you of your accomplishments and build your confidence during a time that is difficult.”

  1. Create The Best Impressions

While there isn’t one true “algorithm” or “recipe” to construct that can lead anyone immediately to the next job that they desire after being laid off, Marsala said there are predictable patterns, depending on circumstances, that represent the bare necessities that those who are job-seeking should follow. The first step is to be on LinkedIn and to be up to date with your background and profile. “The first thing that anybody sees about you when they conduct a search online is often your ‘online resume,’ Marsala said. “Make sure you’re making an impactful impression with the right keywords that are most relevant to your industry. The vast majority of recruiters are on LinkedIn, and some only use LinkedIn. If you’re not on LinkedIn today, you’re left out.”

LinkedIn can also be helpful for taking the opportunity to reveal that you’ve been laid off through a more purposeful approach. “Many people today are announcing their impending or recent departures on LinkedIn and are doing so with class and strategic content,” Marsala said. “I have seen multiple examples of job-seekers thanking their bosses, their teams, and their co-workers. They typically mention how long they were at the company and showcase their skills by reflecting on the projects they worked on. Doing so provides examples of the skills you are hoping to use again in your next role. You are also showing grace, diplomacy, and gratitude by publishing this type of post while subtly positioning yourself for the types of opportunities you wish to pursue next.”

When it comes to the interviewing process, there are a variety of opinions on what is effective and what is detrimental to improving one’s chances of being offered a job opportunity. For instance, most recruiters and hiring managers today are not reading cover letters, according to Marsala. But those who do read them expect to receive cover letters that are polished and detail what it is that motivates the candidate, their achievements, and other details that serve as an extension to the resume.

The “thank you” follow-up to an interview is also an aspect of the recruitment process that some employers place more emphasis on than others. Marsala believes that it is always a worthwhile practice to send well-constructed “thank you” messages, however. “It’s a practice that you should follow, but you have to be careful about it,” she said. “You want to provide a recap of yourself, such as your three top strengths that you feel are important or how you would fit well into the role. Don’t be too verbose, but do express your excitement about the role and how your strengths and experience meet the needs.”

1. Databases, Tables & Calculators by Subject. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2021. Accessed online:

2. United States Challenger Job Cuts. Trending Economics. 2022. Accessed online:

About the Author(s)

Joe Darrah

Joe Darrah is an award-winning freelance journalist based in the Philadelphia region who covers a variety of topics, including healthcare and medical technology. His articles have been published in more than 40 publications.

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