Last Updated on 10 November 2021 by Gertrude

A layoff is a good time, for me at least. I take layoff as a time to do something new.

But, I have never been laid off, the two times I got a job, I fired myself.

Losing your job is a scary and difficult experience.

Picture this, you walk into your workplace one morning and you notice things are unusual.

Your boss is at work earlier than expected.

There is tension in the room.

Before you can sit at your workstation, the HR manager directs you to the boss’s office or conference room and you are asked to shut the door behind you.

Fast forward, your boss explains to you that the company is undergoing some adjustments and for that, your services will no longer be needed.

They have to lay you off. You are asked to pack your stuff and within no time, you are out on the streets. 

You may or may not have seen this coming. Perhaps you are part of the first layoff group. Nonetheless, you feel horrible.

Your life is shattered.

You know everything is about to change.

For someone who has been laid off, there is a barrage of questions and a series of thoughts of what caused the layoff and how you can deal with it. 

Layoffs are brutal.

There is no logic when it comes to laying off employees.

Oftentimes, layoffs are a result of being in the right place at the wrong time. 

Here, we are going to look at what it means to be laid off, the causes and how to survive a layoff.

What is a Layoff?

This is also known as downsizing. 

Originally, a layoff meant a temporary interruption of work, but now it can also be permanent. 

A layoff is a temporary suspension or permanent termination of employment of an employee or (usually) a group of employees for various business reasons.

These reasons are far from the employee’s actual performance and are entirely the employer’s fault.

A layoff is initiated by an employer. 

Being laid off is not the same as being fired. 

One of the notable layoffs is that of Microsoft, which had to let go of 4700 employees.

Why Do Layoffs Occur?

A layoff is not a result of poor performance by the employees. It is a consequence of the failure of the employer to meet certain market level requirements. 

In case you have been laid off, it is normal to have a list of whys and hows you could prevent the situation. It is important to remember that it is a case of bad luck and the company’s fault.

Here are some of the reasons why a company lays off workers:


This is when an organisation tries to reduce its overall size, thereby leading to a tight workspace.

This leads to the laying off of workers in order to accommodate those who get to retain their jobs.


A company may decide to change its business model and structure.

One organisation can merge with another, depending on the need.

When two companies merge, employees may be laid off because of the similarity of skills. 

Loss of business

When an organisation goes out of business, workers are laid off.

This is because the business will not be operating to continuity and workers will not be needed anymore.

Cost-cutting measures

Slow sales or discontinued business segments will see many workers being laid off as the company tries to reduce its expenses by cutting people costs.

Changing technologies

Labour saving machines may replace workers because the machines can produce the same, if not more amount of products with fewer employees

Unnecessary business positions

There are business positions that do not serve a significant positive impact on an organisation.

Workers who hold these positions get laid off

Business shifting

When a business changes its geographical location, workers who are not ready or willing to move to the new place get laid off.

Political reasons

A company may downsize as a result of a government-mandated policy to allow a specific number of employees in the organisation.

Which Employees Get Laid Off?

When there is a possible layoff in the organisation, many employees like to know their standing and how they can put themselves in the best position just in case it happens.

There are no particular criteria to lay off workers, but we will look into the likely employees to be let go easily. 

High salaries employees

Oftentimes, when companies are laying off workers, employees who earn more are most likely to be let go first. This is done to help cut people’s costs.

Low-performance employees

These are employees who do not carry their full weight in an organisation and slack off on the work they are given. These workers get laid off when the company is downsizing.

Excessive and temporary employees

Employees who are hired to work in a short time are also likely to be laid off because they are easily replaceable. 

Inflexible employees

Employees who have a hard time adjusting to the business, cannot work extra hours or adapt to technology are also laid off.

These employees cannot make any sacrifices for the business, hence they are considered less likely to achieve long term business goals.

What To Do Before a Layoff

Brace yourself

When you hint that the company is about to be downsized, or you have already seen the first group of workers be laid off, then it is important to prepare yourself for what lays ahead.

You may or may not be laid off. Regardless, keep perspective.

Tame yourself to accept the outcome and make necessary decisions. 

Start a job search

If you do not want to stay out of a job, then start looking for new jobs opportunities in different places.

This will ensure that you are still on your feet even after the layoff.

What To Do When You Know You’re Going to Get Laid Off

Being laid off can be heartbreaking. When you get the news, it is important to stay calm and be professional about it.

Layoffs may spark a lot of frustrations and anger, but do not act on them.

Do not say anything derogatory that you might regret. 

Be polite and respectful. Sometimes a company may decide to hire you back and they may evaluate you based on how you handled the news. You may also need your employer as one of your references for the next job.

Ask for your last day.

Once you’ve gotten the layoff news, ask how long you should work before the layoff takes effect.

If it is immediate termination, pack your stuff and leave the premises after you have cleared yourself through HR and filled the necessary documents.

Speak to HR. The HR department can give you a letter of recommendation which will be useful when seeking other jobs.

You may fill in the necessary paperwork before you leave as well.

What To Do After a Layoff

Ask for your unemployment benefits

When a company lays off workers, there are certain rights and benefits that employees are entitled to.

Check for your severance check, health insurance and other benefits that the company is going to compensate you.

This will sustain you through the whole of your unemployment period.

Write a thank you letter

After you have been laid off, write a note to express your gratitude and say goodbye to your employer and the whole organisation.

This helps you embrace the reality that you are now out of a job.

Continue job search

If you are not ready to stay out of a job, you can keep on job hunting.

Updating your resume or your LinkedIn profile is one way to grab the attention of other potential employers to hire you.

Meditate and relax

Going through a layoff is rough.

After you have been laid off, remember it is not your fault. Do not beat yourself up over it.

Have a positive mindset

If you need to vent to a friend or family.

Do not hide this fact from them.

It will only keep eating away at you. Let your family give you words of encouragement. Besides that, take a walk. Work out. Get in shape.

Self-development is needed for when you will get into another job at any time.

Benefits of a Layoff

Possibility of rehiring

When an employee is laid off temporarily, the company may give them a chance to require their job positions.

After downsizing, a business will evaluate and analyse the necessary skills before they employ you back.

Unemployment benefits

An employee may get a severance check from the employer and have various benefits that will get him through after the layoff.


A company that embraces new technology may want to train employees on how they can utilise the available technology.

This is beneficial to workers because they acquire a new set of skills. 

Positive work experience and references

When a worker gets laid off, the company may give them a positive letter of recommendation and even give them leads on where they can job hunt.

Most of these recommendations are helpful and have high success rates. 

FAQs on What To Do After a Layoff

  1. Does a company have to hire you back after a layoff?


2. How do I start a job after a layoff?

Give yourself time to think about your career

Update resume

Jump on Linkedin

Start looking for jobs

Have backup/skill combination

Who is in your network?

3. How hard is it to get a job after being laid off?

Depends on the health of your industry and the economy. Always have a combination of skills.

4. Should you go back to a job that laid you off?

Yes, if they call you back then you’re a valuable employee.

But, this time go with a new mindset.

Ask for a raise, know you’re dispensable. And acquire new skills to make you the decision-maker next time.

5. What to do when you get laid off?

Cry for a week

Wake up wipe the tears

Ask why

Ensure you get your paycheck

Start making Google and social media your besties, for networking

Update your skills

Understand you


6. Why being laid off is good?

Depends on your mindset

Take time for self

Understand skills

7. How to move on after a layoff


Take care of your mental health

What are your goals Consider change/new skills/starting over

8. How to deal with stress after a layoff

Cry it out

Accept the layoff

Tell others

Take time

A job isn’t your work. Your work is your purpose, who are you?

9. Is being laid off bad?

No, don’t take it to heart. You didn’t fail, it may be time for a new start.

Don’t let your confidence go.

10. What to ask when getting laid off

Say thank you first. Will I get compensation and how much?

What happens to NHIF, NSSF, or other insurance your company paid for?

Will you support me by offering referrals or even leads for employment?

It pays to be an awesome employee for your employer to offer privileges like new work referrals.

11. Is it better to be laid off or quit?

Quitting = no benefits.

If you take a layoff hard, you will get knocked down and out soon.

12. How do you stay positive after a layoff?

Cry it out

Take a break

Assess your finances

Talk to someone

Explore opportunities within your industry

Change industries

Learn a new skill(s)


Get out

13. Who gets laid off first in a company?


Incompetent employees,

Redundant/obsolete department

14. How do you make a layoff decision?

Decide what the company needs

Figure out the least required departments

Have a firing plan in your business plan to avoid guesswork

Hire the best to avoid the headache of firing

15. What employers need to do when laying off

Prepare your workforce for a possible downsizing

Offer resources to help your employees

Start onboarding new employees for the new role

Encourage your employees to acquire new skills

If you are looking for a job, keep in mind the job won’t be yours forever no matter the dedication you give the company.

The owner of a company decides how much you’re worth and when he doesn’t need you anymore. It sounds gory but that’s the reality of jobs.

A job provides you with experience in your industry.

Instead of searching for jobs and telling the employer, you’re looking for ‘anything’ available like I did, look for a job that helps you enhance your skill.

Stop applying for any job that comes your way, instead ask, what are my skills?

What kind of job can I get with my skill?

What problem will I solve for an employer with my skills?

What are employers looking for in terms of skills?

Always have an exit plan.

Ask questions like, what happens when this company goes down or how long is too long in terms of job experience? What do I need to do to expand my skills to enable me to climb the ladder in my job?

When you get laid off, don’t view the layoff as a failure but an opportunity to learn more about yourself and your skills/industry.

Also, you may be needing a break but didn’t realise/ A layoff is an opportunity for you to explore yourself.

People got laid off in millions during the pandemic and some ended up committing suicides and others resorted to crime while others kept learning about themselves. Others chose to go into business.

Just because you know the job isn’t yours or you may get laid off soon doesn’t mean to give 100 per cent and above in your job.

Give it your all, that way when one door closes God sees your dedication and opens for you another door.

Have you suffered a layoff during the pandemic? How did you take it?

Did you get offended, upset or depressed?

What are you doing to recover from your layoff?




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