6 Survival Tips to Guide You Through Layoffs

Pamela Skillings | Big Interview | January 18, 2023

It’s early in the year, but the 2023 layoffs are already hitting. Big Tech’s getting slammed, but other sectors aren’t spared either.

Nearly 40,000 layoffs have been publicly announced in the past 2 months. As you’re reading this, thousands of real humans out there are experiencing their most stressful work event — being told to collect their belongings. Should you be worried?

If you’re apprehensive about losing your job, here are some things you can try over the next couple of weeks to make sure you land on your feet.

#1 Do a reality check

Start by confronting your anxiety. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Has the company instituted a hiring freeze?
  • Has your department been asked to cut down costs (e.g. cancel an important service or app)?
  • Has the number of sales decreased considerably or consistently?
  • Are you no longer invited to meetings where your presence was mandatory before?
  • Is your workload suddenly much lighter?

If you’ve answered “Yes” to all or most of these questions (or you’re still not convinced you’re safe), read on.

#2 Consider a career change 💡

Rejection is redirection, right? Maybe, in ten years’ time, you’ll look back at this period of your life and think “If I hadn’t been laid off then, I wouldn’t be doing X now” (happened to many people I’ve coached over the years!).

Turns out, situations like these tend to be blessings in disguise – they jolt us out of our comfort zone and make us reexamine our work and life choices.

So use this time to do a mini audit of your career:

  • Is there anything you wanted to do earlier but sacrificed the dream?
  • What work in your current company feels like drudgery?
  • What 3 things give your life meaning outside work? Can you turn any of them into a job?

What steps do you need to take to get there?

#3 Spruce up your resume 🧹

You probably haven’t updated your resume since you applied for your current job. In the meantime, you gained new skills and learned things.

Why not take the time to improve your resume so that you have a well-designed, up-to-date template that you can use when the time comes?

Here are some ideas to start with.

#4 Polish your LinkedIn profile 🚀

Today, most recruiting and hiring happens through LinkedIn, and just like your resume, your LinkedIn profile may be in need of a makeover.

Here’s what you can do: update your profile photo, cover image, tagline, work history, top skills, licenses, and certifications. Update your public URL too so that the link to your profile looks professional when shared.

If applicable to your field, add examples of work you’ve done in the past (that will give the recruiters an idea of what you’re looking for). Maybe even ask a few former coworkers to write you a recommendation. Do this periodically to keep your info up to date.

#5 Do some coursework in advance 📓

As massive layoffs happen, the number of extraordinary professionals looking for their next thing will be bigger than usual. You’ll REALLY need to stand out.

A great way to outshine your competition is by having a wider skillset (both technical and soft skills). That NLP course you wanted to take 2 years ago? Do it. Need a Scrum Master certification for your next PM role? Take it. Need to ramp up your presentation skills? Take a course.

Here’s what you can do if you’re not sure how to choose:

  • Talk to your manager about which courses are relevant
  • Investigate the knowledge gaps between you and your coworkers. Where can you be better?
  • Are there any certifications that are more recognized than others?
  • Is there a foreign language that may come in handy?
  • Check out the job descriptions for your position. What must-haves do you need to learn?

Websites like Udemy, Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, and Domestika all offer free and affordable courses in abundance.

#6 Practice interviewing ♟️

When was the last time you had a job interview? How about a job interview where you left 100% satisfied with your performance?

If you decide to do one thing from this list, this is it. And even if you’re fairly confident about how to answer the good old “Tell me about yourself”, I’m sure you’ll benefit from reading a few articles on answering difficult questions like “What’s your biggest weakness?”, or negotiating your salary.

We have a ton of free resources if you want to start practicing.

Bonus Tip: Keep it classy 🤵‍♂️

As this latest massive round of layoffs unfolds, something caught my attention on LinkedIn a few days ago. Instead of staying silent, laid-off workers were sharing their experience, their tone far from bitter or angry.

I’ve seen vulnerability and gratitude.
I’ve seen people praising the companies that had just let them go.
I’ve seen managers and former colleagues show comfort, compassion, and support.

So, I’ll leave you with this – whatever happens, withhold the urge to bash your former employer in an anger-fueled post. Instead, be thankful that the journey happened and cherish the memories and everything the job has taught you.

In the meantime, why not focus on your next career move?

My team has prepared a free guide that will help you move on and land a new job fast.

Life After Layoffs: Figuring Out Your Next Step

Inside, you’ll find more tips on how to update your resume, stand out on LinkedIn and rock that interview!

Until next time,
Pamela Skillings


By MIT Sloan CDO