It can be unsettling to read about the looming recession or to see yet another connection on LinkedIn change their status to #opentowork.
Dr. Claus

The tech industry specifically has dominated headlines in the past few months for mass layoffs. However, it’s important to take a deep breath and understand that you are more than your job, according to Dr. Vanessa Claus, CSU Global Senior Faculty Associate of Human Resources Management and Career Center Coach. 

In the first of a two-part series, Dr. Claus shares her advice on what to do if you are laid off from your job. 

Know Your Rights and Ask About Benefits

Employees should know their rights and exercise them during layoffs and terminations. Several factors (e.g., state law, industry, unionized versus non-unionized, etc.) impact your rights during layoffs. Every state in the U.S., except for Montana, is an at-will state, meaning your organization can lay you off without warning. However, there are laws that protect you during a layoff. I highly recommend that individuals who are laid off do the following:

  1. Read the article “Getting laid off? Know your rights.”
  2. Understand what you are agreeing to when accepting severance. Did you know you can negotiate your severance package? Check out this article.
  3. Wait to sign anything until you have looked at your severance package/all documentation provided by the company. Consult an employment attorney if you have any questions or think something is amiss.

If you are confident that you have been laid off due to unfair reasons, such as age, taking FMLA leave, maternity leave, etc., contact the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to file a complaint.

Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

If you were terminated from a company due to performance, I wouldn’t recommend asking for a letter of recommendation. However, if you’re being laid off, asking for a letter of recommendation is entirely acceptable. Getting letters of recommendation from a supervisor, colleague, and subordinate might be beneficial. Having these letters available to you will be helpful when you begin to apply for new roles.

Define Your Talents, Passions, and Missions

Sometimes, people feel that because they’ve worked in a particular industry for a certain number of years, they need to remain in that field. Nothing could be further from the truth! If you have competencies that align with the needs of different industries, consider exploring those positions. Don’t limit yourself to one sector.

Begin to understand what makes you excited to wake up in the morning and recognize your talents. What do people say that you do well? When individuals get laid off from a job, it’s not uncommon for them to feel like a failure. This period can be both scary and somewhat exciting. Use this opportunity to figure out what makes you “tick.” What’s your passion? Where do you shine? What do you love doing?

During this time of job transition, connect with a career coach. Applying for jobs, determining the next steps, and ensuring organization fit can be overwhelming. Career coaches help improve your competencies, assist during the job search process, map plans to acquire the necessary knowledge, prepare you for interviews, and more. The value of a career coach should not be underestimated. CSU Global’s career center, Global Connect, offers career coaching, networking, mentoring, resume reviews, and additional resources for students and alumni.  

Create a Job-Hunting Schedule and Tracking Document 

Being laid off can be emotional and anxiety-inducing. Give yourself a few days to get into the right mind space before beginning a job search. If you’re feeling exhausted, that’s OK! In fact, an article published in Psychology Today recommends that you mourn the loss of your job before getting organized.  

There are several job search engines available. LinkedIn is a great resource to search for job openings and offers an “Easy Apply” button that allows you to rapidly submit your application. I also recommend searching on Glassdoor, Indeed,, Robert Half, and ZipRecruiter. If you’re looking for remote work, there are also several remote work-specific websites, including FlexJobs,, We Work Remotely, and more.

It’s important to figure out your job-hunting schedule and what works best for you. The first thing you should have is a solid resume. Your resume must be applicant tracking system (ATS) compliant. You could be the best qualified candidate for the role, but if your resume isn’t in the correct format, your information may not be seen by a recruiter. Think about how many qualified individuals might have applied for positions, whose resumes were never seen, because they’re not using the right format. 

Once your resume is good to go, it’s time to begin the job search process. According to Career and Interview Coach Angela Farmeary, It’s important to create a routine. You don’t have to spend dozens of hours each week searching for jobs, though you should be making a conscious effort to put aside a block of time each day.


Keep in mind that when one door closes, even if it is due to a layoff, another door can and will open. This is your time to find the best job for you. Continue reading Part II of this series.