Being laid off can be overwhelming and it’s easy to miss important tasks. This
runbook will help make sure you stay on track.

Note: this is primarily geared towards Software Engineers, although much of the
information is general enough to be applicable to any professional.

Note: this is almost assuredly incomplete, please feel free to submit a pull
request or email 🙏

If you suspect or know you will be laid off soon.

  1. Use your FSA contributions or find out how long you can use your FSA money after termination
    1. What if I leave my company or retire and still have money in my FSA account?
  2. Make sure you can login to payroll with your personal email.
    1. If you can’t, make sure to download at least your last paystub.
  3. Make sure you can log in to your 401k with your personal email.
  4. Make sure you can log into any equity awards system with your personal email.
  5. Make sure your address and contact information are correct with the company.
    1. You will still need to receive tax forms, and any error will be harder to correct after your last day.
  6. Document your accomplishments
    1. Make a list of your projects, contributions, and achievements during your time at the company. This information can be useful when updating your resume and LinkedIn profile.
    2. If your company does performance reviews, your self-reflection may be a quick source to find highlights.
  7. Make sure any reimbursable expenses have been filed.
  8. Sign up for Blind if your company has it.
    1. Your recently laid off colleagues may post useful information.
  9. Join your company’s alumni Slack/Discord if it exists.

Before you lose access to work systems

  1. Connect with colleagues by sharing contact info and/or requesting to add them on LinkedIn.
  2. If you are receiving severance, sign the necessary paperwork as soon as possible so that your first payment is not delayed.
    1. NB: after reading the paperwork to make sure none of the clauses are non-starters for you.
  3. While you still have access to Slack, ask your manager, previous managers, and/or colleagues you worked closely with if they would be willing to give a reference check for you for your next role.
    1. Potentially also ask for endorsements on LinkedIn.

After you lose access to work systems

  1. If you’re eligible, file for unemployment with the state
  2. Figure out your healthcare situation (likely COBRA, which can be done retroactively)
  3. Assess personal budget, e.g.
    1. you may have regular subscriptions or contributions drawing substantial amounts of money that you want to conserve
    2. you may want to rebalance your investments
  4. Take a breath. Do what you need to do to relax (exercise, video game, music, etc)
  5. Remind yourself that you weren’t the only one laid off, and that your company isn’t the only one that’s done layoffs recently, and it’s not necessarily something you could have avoided being caught up in:
    2. Layoffs Tracker
  6. Keep up professional contacts which are not directly related to job searching. Go to user
    groups and set up drinks/coffee/lunch with former co-workers. Online too as long as it leaves
    you connected (in a way that you used to be connected at work) and isn’t just doomscrolling.
    As much as you can, make this energizing in a way that applying for jobs or studying for
    interviews might not be.

Decide how long you want to job search for

  1. If you are in dire need of employment, take the first offer you get.
  2. If you are in less dire of a situation, consider following a variant of the secretary problem, where you commit exploring before accepting. E.g. if you can spend 3 months job searching:
    1. Spend the first month interviewing and do not accept any offers.
    2. In the last two months, accept the first offer that is at least as good as the best offer from the first month.
  3. The duration of your severance is a good starting point.
  4. Even if you’re in a dire situation, take time to reflect on likes/dislikes from last job, and use this as a way to get closer to your ideal work environment.

Sign up on job marketplaces/boards for recruiter inbounds

  1. Sign up for LinkedIn and update your LinkedIn status to ‘open to work’
  2. Sign up for Wellfound (formerly Angelist)
  3. Sign up for Hired
  4. See if someone from your round of layoffs has started a Google sheet with hire-able candidates across functions from your company
    1. These lists are widely circulated on LinkedIn networks and in social Slack/Discord servers

Find jobs to directly apply to

  1. Hacker News “Who Is Hiring” monthly threads (searchable:
  2. Jobs at YC Startups

Practice Technical Interviews

  1. Technical Phone Screen
    1. Even if you can’t solve or don’t have time to solve, review solutions to familiarize yourself with common patterns (e.g. using binary trees, BFS/DFS, etc) for algorithmic interviews. The programming tasks are probably not like your day-to-day programming tasks, and it may take a while to adjust.
      1. Practice algorithm interview questions:
        1. Leetcode
        2. HackerRank
        3. Project Euler
      2. General advice for technical interviews:
        1. Cracking the Coding Interview
          1. Resources Derived from CtCI
    2. Mock interviews
      1. Ask trusted engineering contacts if they’d be willing to do a practice interview with you.
      2. Pay for a mock interview on to get the full CoderPad experience.

See also

  1. Effective Immediately, a
    similar guide to this one

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