Laid Off Checklist: 11 Things You Need To Action On Now

Dazed and confused.

That’s how most people feel after being told they are laid off.

First disbelief.  Shock.  Sadness.  Grief.  Anger.  Panic. 

You go into a brain fog.

Your brain isn’t typically in “checklist” mode after being shown the door at your place of work.  (Let alone being shown the door during a pandemic.)

I recently wrote an article about how to get your mindset in the right place after a layoff (the internal work.)

Today’s article is focused on the LOGISTICS of what you need to get done after a layoff (the external work.)

Your Laid Off Checklist:  11 Things You Need to Action On Now

1. Last Paycheck 

METHOD:  Find out how you will receive your last paycheck.  Make sure they have the right mailing address, if they will be mailing it to you.   

WHEN:  Find out when it will arrive so you know to look for it.

HOW MUCH:  Ask if you will be receiving severance and how much.  This will impact your filing for unemployment. 

Will outstanding vacation or personal days be included in your paycheck?  Crosscheck what they tell you with your employee handbook.  Speak up if you find a discrepancy.

2. Last Day & Point Person

You need to confirm your last day because you will need this date when filing for unemployment.

Identify a contact person in case you have questions after you leave the company.   Get their email and phone number.

3. Medical Benefits

Find out how long medical benefits will last and if you will be eligible for Cobra.  You may want to get in all your tele-health, doctors appointments, and prescriptions now.

4. Reference Check

Ask who a future employer can contact for a reference check.  This is typically an 800 number, but if not, you need to know the point person. 

Verify what information they will provide on a reference check call.  Usually it’s dates of employment and salary, not performance feedback. Don’t assume. Get the details so you can let your new employers know what to expect.

5. Eligibility for Rehire

Find out if you are eligible for rehire.  It’s important to find out how they coded you on paperwork, because coding you as “fired” will impact your ability to get unemployment.

If they say you are not eligible for rehire, find out why.  Consult with an employment attorney if you were told you were laid off but coded as fired.

6. Letter of Recommendation

Unless you are leaving on very bad terms, it never hurts to ask for a letter of recommendation.  I know this may feel awkward to ask, but it can make the world of difference as you apply for new jobs.  

If they will email you a letter, great!  Even BETTER, if they will ALSO agree to post a recommendation directly to your LinkedIn.  

Now, when you apply to roles, there is no awkward explanation of being laid off. You can succinctly explain that it was a COVID layoff, but you had a great relationship with your company and attach your letter of recommendation. 

7. Marketing Material Research

So, I’m not recommending YET that you jump right in to updating your resume.  

But you will need to do this eventually.  Often I speak to clients who simply can’t remember their previous quantifiable accomplishments and wins to input into their resume.

So if you have the luxury of still having a couple weeks left at your job before your last day, spend a bulk of time sifting through old sent emails, PowerPoint decks, files, etc. to jog your memory of major projects you worked on.

What are you looking for?

You are looking for:  quantifiable results you achieved based on an action you took (+ context.)

Gather as many details as you can on ‘work wins’ in this format.  

Think about money you saved the company, time you saved the company, and any numbers behind your wins as you look through your files/emails.

8. Outplacement Service

Ask your employer if they will be providing you Outplacement Services (or Career Coaching.)  

If you don’t ask the answer is always no.

The Harvard Business Review shared a statistic that the odds of obtaining employment are 2.67 times higher for job seekers who use a job search program, as noted in “The Effectiveness of Job Search Interventions: A Meta-Analytic-Review.”

Outplacement services include things like: resume help, LinkedIn profile optimization, cover letter writing, job search strategy, networking strategy, interview coaching, etc.  This is a trained skill and there are experts out there to help you with this.

If your organization states they will not be providing you outplacement coaching, ask if anyone in your organization is receiving this.  If they tell you yes, then state you would like this as well. 

You can also request to get reimbursed for Career Coaching. In a sense, you are negotiating your layoff terms here.

If they simply won’t budge, I strongly urge you to consider investing in yourself.  The ROI here is greatly worth the investment when you consider how much you are losing each month you remain unemployed.

9. File For Unemployment 

File for unemployment through your state unemployment website as soon as you’re no longer working.

You can also check out  They have lots of resources related to unemployment, COVID layoffs, etc.

10. Assess Your Finances

Cut your expenses.  Print out bank and credit card statements.  Highlight recurring fees and cut out non essential expenses.

There are some great tools like the “You Need A Budget” App (YNAB).

Figure out how much you have left in savings.  Determine your runway so you know how quickly you need to get your next job.

I know this sounds stressful, but facing this “worst case scenario” will ease stress and anxiety in the long term.

11. Contact Your Service Providers

Contact your landlord, mortgage company, banks, utilities, cable, car insurance, etc.

Explain that you got laid off.

Simply ask, “Do you have a hardship program?  Or is there anything you can do for me?”

If you don’t ask answer is always no.

On To Next!!!!

Layoffs are never easy.

Even when millions of others are right along-side you.  

Take care of your mental/emotional state.

And check these items off your list….. so you can shift your focus onto landing a job that is better than you could have ever imagined.  


Start the discovery process to learn the 5 steps to transition into a career you love.

CLICK HERE to download a free 4 part video training series:  “5 Steps to Transition into a Career You Love.”

Let’s do this.

Betty Kempa, CPC, ELI-MP, is an executive career coach helping mid to senior-level corporate women transition out of unfulfilling jobs and into their dream careers. 



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