How to Handle being Laid Off in the Tech Industry

According to,

  • Worldwide, 836 tech companies have let 136539 employees go in 2022
  • 1373 tech companies laid off 232530 employees since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020

Although many Canadian companies still continue to hire, Indeed has indicated that Canadian tech job postings on its platform have dropped by 32% since May 2022. As The Economic Times have reported, the amount of tech layoffs this year (worldwide) has surpassed numbers following the Great Recession.

This isn’t exactly good news.

If you happen to be among those that were laid off, hopefully this guide will serve you well to get back on your feet in the shortest amount of time possible.

If however you’re still employed, now is an excellent time to Hope for the best but Prepare for the worst.

With the current layoffs, we put together a short guide on how to deal with losing your job.

Stage 0: Get the News

Losing a job is hard, regardless of the circumstances. Whether you were laid off or terminated, it stings about the same. 

On a broader perspective though, success in life isn’t exactly measured by the opportunities that are presented to you but rather by how you respond to the challenges that life throws at you. 

Get the feelings out of the way.

Being laid off is a financial failure of the company that employed you, not your ability to perform.

Although not justified, it is normal to feel defeated, vulnerable, even humiliated when you get the news about being let go. Your self esteem may take a hit. In the short term, a job loss will more often than not translate to a decreased income, but in the longer run, getting fired / laid off actually creates a higher income opportunity, especially for a Software Engineer. Besides, being laid off is a financial failure of the company that employed you, not your ability to perform. If you were a poor performer, you wouldn’t have been laid off. You would have been fired.

Not taking into account external factors and variables that you personally have no control over, such as market conditions, just like during a breakup, your attitude is the one thing that what will determine how you will navigate this period of your life. 

This is an excellent opportunity to reevaluate things, read on.

Gather as much information as you can about the layoff.

This information might include details about your severance package, any benefits you are entitled to. If you feel comfortable doing so, ask your employer for feedback on your performance and any areas where you could improve. This can be helpful as you start thinking about your next steps. If you’re parting ways on good terms (and we assume that you are, since being laid off is different from being fired), ask your manager whether you could share their contact information with potential employers in the near future, in case you’re asked for references.

If your employment with a company was terminated, your attitude is paramount to landing a job you actually want, instead of settling for a placeholder job.

Stage 1: Take some time to process.

It’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed, shocked, and upset when you receive the news that you have been laid off. Allow yourself some time to process these emotions and take care of your well-being.

The first week of unemployment is the hardest because you may miss your friends from work, that, if you have been on a hybrid or on-site schedule. One day you’re having lunch and cracking jokes with colleagues, some with whom you may have even developed friendships, and then the next everything changes. You have been essentially removed from from your day to day habits, and that’s hard. Even the strongest people can get depressed in these circumstances.

You’re likely thinking about making cuts to your expenses, like fewer restaurants, subscribing to a cheaper gym, buying less beer or switching to the dreaded watered down beer, etc. The overall pattern is: spend less. Not a comforting thought by any stretch.

Consider taking a few days off to relax, spend time with loved ones, and engage in activities that bring you back to what you were before being laid off, such as a hobby (that is preferably unrelated to programming) or exercise.

Remember that it’s okay to feel a range of emotions during this time. Don’t try to push your grief and worries aside or ignore them – give yourself permission to feel and process them.

Stage 2: Review your Finances and Budget

Regardless of your current employment status, if you haven’t done this already, now is the time. You must make stock of your financial situation. Do you know what your financial cushion looks like?

  1. Make a list of your monthly expenses
  2. Figure out how long you can sustain your current lifestyle without a steady paycheck to get an idea of your “runway” – the amount of time you have to find a new job, before you’re forced to make significant changes to your budget and start cutting expenses
  3. If your runway is shorter than 3 months, consider cutting some expenses that won’t heavily impact your current lifestyle. Subscriptions and memberships you rarely use are prime candidates here.
  4. Do not factor in any potential (freelancing or other) income, if anything, latter can be used to prolong your runway for a greater sense of security (which will translate into confidence during the interview process)

If you have a financial cushion (such as a savings account / emergency fund), now is the time to start tapping into it. This can help you weather the storm while you’re in between jobs.

Stage 3: Develop a Job Search Plan

Setting clear goals and objectives supports accountability for oneself

Determine a strategy, everything from how you word your resume to your online presence, twitter / LinkedIn posts, tone of communication with hiring managers and recruiters, must follow the strategy you put in place. 

“I’m looking for a new job” is pretty vague and won’t win any story telling awards! The more clear and targeted your goals and objectives are, the quicker your job searching strategy will come together, maybe even organically.

Describe your ideal job to yourself and preferably write it down. Not only will you be able to evaluate any job offer you receive in the future according to your specifications, doing this will also help you verbalizing what you’re after to recruiters, talent acquisition specialists, human resources and hiring managers.

It is also a good practice to set specific goals for your job search, such as applying to a certain number of jobs per week or reaching out to a certain number of potential contacts. Consistency is actually a superpower.

Stage 4: Get Prepared for Interviews

  • Update your resume to reflect the details of your last position
    • Give some context on all the roles you have held so far 
    • Quantify your accomplishments. Think of the projects that are most pertinent to the positions you’re applying to, and be ready to elaborate on them during the interviews
    • Use keywords in the job description to your advantage
  • Update your LinkedIn profile to reflect your accomplishments and (almost) mimic your resume
    • Update your profile headline
    • Update your contact information if needs be
    • Put an end date on your current job
    • Update your profile summary
    • Add any side hustles or gigs you’re currently working on
    • Ask for recommendations and endorsements from your peers or ex colleagues
  • Read articles that are relevant to your industry. Here’s a list of top 10 list websites that will keep you informed on the Software Development world
  • Consider reaching out to recruiters that have solicited you in the past, or whom you have a good working relationship with. Even if they don’t find you a job, the good ones will take the appropriate time to help you with things like market intel, industry trends, resume reviews etc.

Stage 5: While in-between jobs

While you’re in-between jobs and are either actively applying to positions, networking or already interviewing with different companies, it’s important for you to stay active. Physically AND mentally. After all, you don’t want to get unhealthy or rusted on your programming skills.

  • You likely don’t want to hear this, but, EXERCISE. Healthy body == healthy mind!
  • Stay active on GitHub by participating in coding challenges, collaborating on open source projects, or starting your own projects. This will help you stay on top of your game and will give you something to talk about with potential employers. Contributing to open source projects you like (think: open source software that you actually use), is a great way to give back to the community, as well as populating your portfolio
  • If nothing comes to mind, take a look at these 5 project ideas that might pique your interest. If projects are a bit too time consuming, grinding algorithms isn’t!
  • Consider doing freelance work or picking up a short contract to keep your programming skills up to date

The way you handle the transition period between your last and next job is crucial to your long-term success.

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