10 Immediate Actions to Take After a Sudden Layoff


In today’s dynamic job market, sudden layoffs can catch anyone off guard, leaving individuals feeling uncertain and vulnerable. In response to this challenging situation, we’ve compiled a practical guide outlining 10 immediate actions to take following a sudden layoff based on input shared by social media users. Whether it’s navigating unemployment benefits or jumpstarting your job search, these steps are designed to help you regain control and confidently navigate the path forward in your career journey.

Featured Image Credit: Pexels.

1. Take a Day To Just Be

Sad woman looking over a ledge and thinking.
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“First, take a day. Then, do something nice for yourself. You’re Funemployed, not unemployed,” someone stated. Another agreed, “The best thing you can do is take a day or two to catch your breath. Canceling Netflix now vs. on Friday night will not make a difference.”

“It is rarely worth making quick, reactionary changes immediately unless you have no choice. You’ve got your severance to keep you afloat for a few months. You can afford a few days to get your head straight.”

2. Take the Severance

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Image Credit: AllaSerebrina /Depositphotos.com.

“Take the severance. It’ll probably be standard across the board throughout the company,” one replied. “Severance is negotiable,” another argued. 

“You may not have much room to discuss since its wider-scale layoffs, and labor laws in the U.S. are baloney but try to make sure it includes not just salary but pro-rated amounts for any annual bonus and accrued vacation pay.”

A third added, “Check if your severance plan offers career transition help or coaching for some time. Learn how the company pays the severance. It can be a lump sum or spread out.”

3. Apply for Unemployment

Man using laptop. Shocked / surprised.
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“It would help if you get as much as possible right away. So take the severance, hopefully in a lump sum upfront. That will help you with unemployment,” someone shared. 

“You need to apply for unemployment tomorrow. Unemployment can take some time, and there can be some snags, and you need the money immediately. I would advise against having the taxes taken out of your unemployment checks if you need the money. You can pay those taxes later if need be.”

“File for unemployment TODAY. If you participated in an equity plan, there might be a deadline to exercise options, so call the plan provider. Know that RSUs, options, and RSAs will probably cease vesting, so don’t count on those as potential income,” another informed. 

4. Take a Day to Figure Out Finances and Budget

Curly businessman in suit and glasses using smartphone near laptop in cafe
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“Start a spreadsheet of your expenses. Your mortgage payment is the easy one, then your utilities, loan, and debt payments. Then you need to do the more challenging part of the other expenses.”

“Look at the last few months to see what you’ve been spending on gas, clothes, groceries, restaurants, entertainment, subscriptions – everything.”

“If you can export your bank account (and credit card) transactions, that’s a way to start so you can categorize and analyze your spending. Next, you must figure out how much you’re spending each month and your budget.”

5. Fill Your Prescriptions

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“My best advice is to make an appointment with your doctor and get refills of your medications ASAP before your health insurance expires. So you can stock up on your inhalers and anything else that’ll help in a flare-up,” a second user suggested. 

“Also, if you are on an expensive drug not covered under healthcare.gov, contact your doctor and the manufacturer of the prescription. Sometimes manufacturers of these costly drugs offer them free of charge for those that can’t afford them (or at a steep discount). I did this before, and it worked amazingly well.”

6. Find New Healthcare

Bearded ill african american businessman coughing at workplace with medicines
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One person instructed, “You need to go on healthcare.gov immediately. COBRA isn’t worth the time or money (others disagreed about COBRA but noted its expense). Since you’re unemployed, you should qualify for a nice discount on the healthcare.gov plans.”

“Usually, the healthcare.gov plans will inform you of your discount due to being unemployed. If not, call them and ask *before* you sign up. And read through the plans to make sure you have quality coverage.”

“There’s no reason you can’t get similar coverage to your former employer’s plan. But you will be surprised how some plans cost more and cover less. Also, make sure you have Rx coverage if you require to pay for prescriptions.”

7. Create a Schedule

Young woman at home sitting near window relaxing in her living room reading book and drinking coffee or tea.
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“Make a daily schedule: wake up, exercise, shower, apply to five jobs, and handle this and that chore. And don’t settle for a lousy job because it is hard to recover from a massive salary cut. Schedule your day. Make time for exercise, friends, and family. But also include hobbies and meal prepping on a budget.”

8. Inform Your Family

Man giving alimony to his ex-family at home
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“Call your family to let them know – they may be willing and able to help you financially or even know of jobs. Either way, it’s not something to be ashamed of, and don’t take it personally. Remember, it’s a JOB,” replied one. 

Another added, “If you feel comfortable letting friends or family know. Getting a job is more about who you know, not what you know.”

9. Consider Temp Work

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“As an older worker, doing temp work gets you into places where you can show your stuff. You are valuable. You need to show them,” one volunteered. “Agreed,” shared another. “I got laid off after a ‘lifetime’ career at age 54, and my job disappeared industry-wide, so I couldn’t get back in if I wanted to.”

“I landed a decent gig through a contractor that’s become a new career. The company hired me a while back, and the pay and benefits are even better than my old job. Companies are looking for responsible employees who show up and know how to work!”

10. Contact Your Mortgage Company Immediately

Should I Pay Off My Mortgage Early?
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Someone stated, “Contact your mortgage provider NOW. If it’s through a bank, they may let you not pay for a few months up to a year.” 

Another agreed, “Call your bank and let them know you’ve just experienced a layoff, and see if they can give you a reprieve from your mortgage/bills for a month or so.” Another added, “If you have a repayment mortgage, make it interest only.”

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Annika Stepanov

Annika is passionate about personal finance and travel, pouring her extensive experience into her writing on these topics. She has a diploma in Creative English Writing and has been working in the industry since 2016.