Laid Off? Here's How to Tell Your Network.

The day you're laid off from a job is always going to rank as one of the worst of your career—but ultimately the experience can open new doors for you. To get back on your feet, it's critical to employ a strong strategy for spreading the news about your new employment situation. You have to be your own public relations firm as you tell your network you've been laid off.

laid off tell network

Start with the inner circle

When you first hear the news—even if you saw it coming—you’re likely to be in a state of shock. Losing a job triggers a grief cycle. At this point, you only need to communicate with your closest friends and family—the people you can trust. Vent and express your anger to them, but stay professional to the rest of the world.

Give yourself a few days to be mad. Be clear with yourself and your loved ones about what you need during this time. We all have a friend or parent who quickly jumps to "fixing" and will start giving you unsolicited advice. If you really just want to express your feelings, set that boundary upfront.

Don't let this period go on too long, though. If you feel like you’re unable to refocus on finding your next opportunity, make arrangements to speak to a mental health professional. (It's possible this type of assistance is part of your severance package.) An objective third party can help you reframe your situation—and keep you from wearing out your welcome with family and friends. You don't want to be defined by the layoff.

Spread the news to your personal and professional networks via email

Once you've moved past the initial phase of anger, it's time to spread the word that you're seeking your next opportunity. Don't be embarrassed—everyone understands the reality of layoffs. Keep your message simple, to the point, and professional. Try something like this:

"I have some professional news to share. After (insert number) fulfilling years at (your former company), I was laid off (insert date or time reference). I've always valued your opinion and would enjoy getting together to bounce some ideas off of you about my next step. When are you free for coffee?"

The key is to stay positive and professional. You aren't dwelling on the past; you're looking toward the future.

Use social media to your advantage

Once you’re ready to begin the search for your next job in earnest, it's time to tell social media. Craft another concise, positive message for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn:

"You might have heard that after (insert number) fulfilling years at (your former company), I'm looking for my next opportunity in (insert industry). Please let me know if you hear of any positions that might be a good fit!"

You might be tempted to keep this news on LinkedIn, but that would be a mistake. You never know where your next job will come from. A fellow parent on your child's soccer team might have a lead. Or your dad's college roommate. If you haven't figured it out yet, it's a small world, and as long as you keep your message positive and professional, no one will question your decision to share your news. (In fact, digital media expert Sree Sreenivasan received quite a bit of notoriety for taking his post-layoff job search to social media, attracting a job offer from New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio.)

No matter how you choose to share your news, be cognizant of—and be sure to comply with—the terms of any nondisclosure agreements you might have signed related to your severance package. Finding a new job is hard enough without dealing with additional headaches from your former employer.

Search for your next job now:


Back to listing

The Washington Post Jobs Newsletter

Subscribe to the latest news about DC's jobs market