Skip navigation
job key on keyboard Alamy

What to Do if You Get Laid Off: Tips for Tech Pros

As layoffs of tech workers continue at companies large and small, IT pros should prepare for the worst. Here are tips on what to do if you get laid off.

While the overall job outlook for tech professionals remains strong, not everyone will be spared from the waves of layoffs currently underway from some of the biggest names in tech.

Particularly for those who have been newly hired, when the axe swings or downsizing occurs, they may find their position on the chopping block and will need a strategy for rebounding after a layoff.

From polishing your CV and making sure all your skills and career history are up to date, to reaching out to friends and family for connections to possible organizations, there is an organizing checklist that will help you shake off the bruise of dismissal and reoriented yourself toward the next phase in your career.

"Make sure you take some time for yourself and do something for you — a transition like this is never easy, no matter the situation," said Douglas Murray, CEO at Auvik Networks. "Take time to decompress and figure out what you want next, then start looking."

Murray pulled quote

Where to Start After You Have Been Laid Off

Murray suggests focusing on updating your resume/CV/LinkedIn profile to reflect your most recent role and sharing a LinkedIn post with your network.

"Your network is a powerful tool. People want to help, referrals are highly regarded, and recruiters are always looking," he said. "Start to think about your career story and the question every recruiter asks: 'Tell me about yourself.'"

It's also a good time to assess where you are in your career and where you want to go, according to Karel Lukas, president and managing partner of the Trevi Group.

"This is an opportunity to step in and determine in which direction you want to put your focus," he said. "What do you really want to do?"

Like Murray, Lukas advises an update of all your social media accounts, the most important of which is LinkedIn.

"Get a good picture, focus on what matters in social media," Lukas said. "While the most important site for the tech world is LinkedIn, there could be some other places to look at as well, especially if you're a programmer. But certainly, LinkedIn is a key place."

Josh Drew, regional director for the Boston area at Robert Half, added that whenever you have code samples, GitHub is an amazing page to show work examples of your work.

"A lot of these folks in the IT space that are in web development have passion projects or things that they've done independently of their company that are great work," he explained. "Those kinds of examples are extremely helpful, and a lot of our clients always are interested in that."

For IT workers newer to the industry and lacking experience or letters of recommendation, they can boost their profile by doing evaluations through staffing firms or different websites to self-validate their experience or level of proficiency in a given software, he added.

"Some people who have an outgoing personality will do video posts on LinkedIn," Drew noted. "That's not a recommendation for everybody because that might not be who they are from a personality standpoint. But for somebody who's comfortable with it, that's a fantastic way to put yourself out there and just kind of be yourself and speak for yourself."

A Changing Employment Landscape Offers Opportunities

There has been a growing trend toward gig-type opportunities, which can offer a solid bridge to something more long-term, according to both Lukas and Drew.

"Project-based work will continue, and I think people should be open-minded about that as a way to stay busy," Lukas said. "It also means you don't look like you're out of the market for six or 12-plus months."

"Be honest, and don't settle. The right role is out there for everyone," Murray added. "If you pretend to be something you're not, you won't enjoy that company or role. Start applying for jobs — even if it's not the 'perfect' role."

Drew said being open to contract consulting work is "extremely important" as the stigma around what was previously termed "temp work" has changed.

"If you can fill a four-to-six-month gap with a project-based role that buys you more time, one that's going to keep your relevant experience up to date, then maybe you get exposed to a new industry," he said. "You've got everything to gain, nothing to lose."

Preparing for the Online Interview Process

With the opportunities that come with work-from-home and distributed workforces has come a change in the way the interview process unfolds, one that might take place completely online.

This shift means making preparations so you can put your best (digital) foot forward throughout the interview process, which will take place through video communications apps including Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

Set up a space in your home that is dedicated to interviewing, Murray advised.

"Make sure the lighting is OK, perhaps use an office-like background, and make sure your system has the latest download of the video conferencing software," he said. "If using Zoom, they allow for you to do a helpful test meeting."

It's a good idea to use headphones to eliminate outside noises, but to also be open and honest with the interviewer about any background noises that might come up, Murray added.

Drew agrees that it's important to present yourself as a professional when you do these calls, but it's also important to "read the room" depending on the company.

"If you go into a startup, if you're wearing a suit and tie on a video interview, you might stick out a little," he said. "It's a little bit of your gut instinct, but we would always default to full professionalism. ... Maintain eye contact during the video."

Even small things like a follow-up email after the interview can make a big difference and help you stand out in the interviewer's mind, according to Drew.

"That shows a follow-up … a level of professionalism and appreciation," he said. "It translates differently in-person as opposed to remote, but all the old professional tips and tricks of interviewing are all still relevant."

About the author

Nathan Eddy headshotNathan Eddy is a freelance writer for ITPro Today. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin.
Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.