5 Ways to Bounce Back After a Layoff
5 Ways to Bounce Back After a Layoff

The post-COVID economy has been extremely turbulent. Industries like hospitality, education and health care have struggled to find qualified workers. Meanwhile, raising interest rates have spurred tech companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Meta to institute mass layoffs to cut costs.

Unfortunately, downsizing will likely continue until inflation falls. And the sad reality is that many Americans will lose their jobs. While layoffs are more common than ever before, losing your job still stings and is a traumatic event. Not only is there the loss of a reliable and consistent income, but also the loss of the confidence and identity attached to your career.

As a result, navigating a layoff can bring a multitude of feelings — and it is common to feel confused about your next steps. As an experienced career coach who helps people navigate career or job transitions, here are my suggestions for 5 ways you can bounce back after a layoff.

1. Conduct a Skills Inventory

After a job loss, it’s common to be hyperaware of your weaknesses, but it’s important to refocus on your strengths to help define your career goals. Assess your readiness for future jobs by examining your abilities and how they can be transferable to various positions. To conduct a skills inventory, reflect on the following questions:

  • What are some strengths that I possess?
  • What are some significant work accomplishments I made in the past 5 years
  • What was the greatest impact I made in my last job?
  • What soft and technical skills do I possess?
  • What recent certifications have I obtained?

When you reflect on these responses, write them down. This exercise will help you clarify your strengths, skills and major accomplishments. This activity will also inform the types of jobs you apply for and your ability to articulate these skills on your resume and in interviews. Plus, thinking about your strengths will help build back your self-confidence too!

2. Get the Support of a Career Mentor

A career mentor uses their experience to guide and help you grow your career. This person can also support you as you make major decisions in your career and through challenges like layoffs. Many people find mentors in their place of work and choose to preserve these relationships beyond their tenure at a given company. Career mentors can act as moral support and assist you in fine-tuning your resume, cover letter and interview skills.

If you don’t have a career mentor, consider attending a networking event, soliciting help on LinkedIn or connecting to a professional association or your alma mater. Some professional associations and colleges offer free career mentoring to alums.

3. Volunteer or Find Freelance Work

Want to keep busy after a layoff? Try volunteering at a local organization or finding freelance work to stay productive and keep your skills sharp. Consider checking out local nonprofits in your area for volunteer or part-time work or try searching sites such as Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr and Flex Jobs to find and apply for jobs from graphic design to writing and customer support. If you’re already a freelancer or own a business, you can also advertise your services on LinkedIn.

4. Gain a New Credential or Take an Online Course

Avoid feeling stagnant after a layoff by continuing to learn and build new skills to ensure you remain competitive in the job market. Some of the most in-demand skills include programming, UI/UX design, data engineering and data visualization. Try exploring University of Washington Professional & Continuing Education’s free and low-cost programs to gain the skills you need.

5. Take Control of Your Mental Health

Layoffs can elicit feelings of hopelessness and increase the risk of depression. Studies have shown that unemployed people are often more distressed and less satisfied with their lives, marriages and families.

If you or a loved one need help coping with job loss, there are several different low-cost or no-cost options for therapy, including, group therapy, professional associations and support groups. Mental Health America provides a free support group finder, and some therapists and clinics offer counseling on a sliding scale. You can also try filling your day with activities that lead to better mental health, such as exercising, meditating or finding a hobby you enjoy.

Losing your job is incredibly difficult and can elicit an array of emotions. Be proactive and intentional to avoid feeling stuck.

For more career tips and industry trends, visit the News & Features section of our website, and subscribe to our email list. To learn more about UW Professional & Continuing Education certificates, specializations, degrees and courses, explore your options or contact us.

Author Dr. Ciera Graham-Graves

Dr. Ciera Graham-Graves

Guest writer Dr. Ciera Graham-Graves has 12 years of experience as a higher education administrator. She enjoys writing on issues pertaining to the challenges impacting women and ethnic minorities in the workplace. She is a past career columnist for the Seattle Times and the Everett Herald, and a current editorial contributor to Career Contessa and Best Colleges. 

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