Being laid off isn't easy, but you can make some good of it.

Losing work for any reason can be upsetting. 2020 alone has seen an incomparable number of employees worldwide faced with job losses and extended leave. Many companies have been forced to lay off staff due to a significant drop in available work. This has left many workers in difficult positions. If you're wondering what to do after being laid off, here are some initial steps to get you started.

Why being laid off is not the same as getting fired

It's common knowledge that getting fired means an employer has terminated their worker's employment, typically against the worker's will and as a result of them not meeting the requirements of the role. Being laid off, on the other hand, is somewhat different.

Generally speaking, when employees are laid off in the UK it is often a temporary solution. Employees may be asked to stay home or take unpaid leave if there is not enough work for a short period of time. 

Alternatively, some employers may choose to implement short-time working, whereby the employee works reduced hours or is paid less than half their weekly pay to accommodate a drop in available work (if permitted by their employment contract).

In some cases, a layoff can eventually result in the permanent termination of employment due to the need to downsize or in cases related to personnel management. Often, more than one employee will be laid off in these instances.

How to improve your job prospects after a layoff

If you've been laid off, there are several ways you can productively fill your employment gap to improve your job prospects. Whether you will be returning to your current role or searching for a new one, how you spend your time during this career break can help you prepare for your next move. For example, upskilling is a great way to expand your skill set and your CV.

There are several free online courses available that could help you position yourself as a competitive candidate in the job market.

Similarly, networking is another proven strategy to assist you in finding work if you've been laid off. Referrals are five times more effective than all other sources of hiring. If you can form a professional relationship with someone inside the company or team you wish to work for, you're already a step ahead of the rest.

What to put on your CV if you've been laid off

If you're concerned about how your newly laid-off status is going to look on your CV, don't be. You don't have to list that you were laid off on your CV – this is something the recruiter or HR manager can discuss with you later in the recruitment process if they choose.

If you do feel like it's necessary to address the employment gap, there are a few strategies to employ. First, you can format the dates of your CV by removing positions older than 15 years and omitting the months from your recent employment. You can also make a quick mention of your career break in your Personal Statement ‒ just don't dwell on it. Find more CV tips for handling employment gaps here.

In general, career breaks or gaps in employment happen for a variety of reasons and are probably more common than you think, so don't be concerned about a recruiter spotting a work gap.

At most, they will ask why you had a break in employment when they're screening your CV. If that happens, honesty is always the best policy. Stay professional, never bad-mouth an employer and stick to the truth. The recruiter won't hold it against you.

How to discuss being laid off in an interview

The short answer is that you don't need to bring it up. A recruiter or hiring manager will ask you about it if they are interested, but it's not something you need to go out of your way to highlight.

That being said, make sure you are prepared to answer the question if it comes up. Losing your work opportunities can be an emotional experience, and speaking about it can dig up some hurt feelings. Prepare your answer and consider how much detail you're comfortable divulging ahead of time so that you're not caught off guard.

How to move forward after being laid off

It's easy to feel lost and unsure of what to do after being laid off. If you choose to search for a new job, it can take time ‒ and the 2020 climate doesn't make it any easier. It's important to remember you're not alone in this.

When it comes to the job search, expanding your skills is an excellent way to ensure you remain relevant in your industry. This will be a great addition to your CV as well. Research networking opportunities and most importantly, dedicate time to writing a flawless CV.

If your lay off has led you to begin a job search, start with a CV that will get you noticed. See how yours stacks up by getting a free CV review.

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