How to Talk About Being Laid Off With Your Family, Friends, and Network
Getting let go stinks. Sure, you might wind up with a generous severance (if you’re lucky), or maybe you hated your job anyway. But, the sting of being laid off is pretty much unavoidable, especially if you actually liked your job.
Feeling sad, angry, or embarrassed in the wake of a layoff is perfectly normal. So is feeling like you have no idea how you’re going to share this news with your family, friends, and network. But, leaning on your inner circle for support will help you get through the tough days ahead. And turning to your network might help you land your next job.
Here are a few ways to get productive conversations started—without making things awkward.
How to Lean on Your Friends and Family
You might start with a tearful phone call to your mom or a trip to get ice cream with your best friend to get all your emotions out and let off some steam with someone you know you can trust.
But once the initial shock wears off, and you’re feeling calm and collected and ready to talk to the rest of your inner circle, start each conversation by letting the other person know you have upsetting news to share. You might say something like, “I want to talk to you about my job, this isn’t easy for me, and I’m still sad about what happened.”
Then, tell them what you need—because these are the people you’re closest with, it’s OK to be more upfront about your request. For example:
- “I’m looking for a shoulder to cry on.”
- “I need your support.”
- “I want to vent.”
- “I’d love your help eventually finding a new role, but for now I just want to process it.”
Setting expectations from the start will help ensure that you get what you need from the conversation. Often, the most well-intentioned people in our lives tend to want to fix things for us (or, worse, give us unsolicited advice) when really all we’re looking for is someone to listen.
It’s possible you won’t have the energy to talk to every one of your closest confidantes in person, so sending a group text to your circle of pals is also totally acceptable. You can keep it short and sweet by sending a message like:
Hey friends—I wanted to share some bad news with you. I got laid off yesterday. It was unexpected, and I’m still processing everything. I’ll send everyone an email once I figure out what I want to do next. For now, if anyone wants to meet up, my schedule is wide open!
Be prepared for lots of questions, offers to help you find a new job, and happy hour invitations to follow. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s OK to tell your friends that you’ll be happy to share details next time you see them in person and that, for now, you simply wanted to keep them in the loop.
How to Reach Out to Mentors and Professional Contacts for Advice
Getting laid off can understandably trigger a wide range of emotions. You may feel antsy to find a similar job right away, excited to take a little time off, or inspired to make a major career pivot. Whatever you’re feeling, it wouldn’t hurt to ask your mentors and career allies for advice.
Depending on your relationship, you can reach out over the phone or via email. You might say something like:
I was unexpectedly laid off from [Company] and am giving serious thought to what I’d like to do next. I’ve always valued your advice, so I wanted to ask if I could take you out for a cup of coffee and chat with you about my next steps?
When you feel ready to jump back into the job search for real, you can send an email to former colleagues, acquaintances, and extended family asking for more concrete help.
It might look something like this:
Hope all is well!/How are you doing? It’s been so long since [last time you interacted].
I’m reaching out because I’d love your help. As you may have heard, I’m no longer with [Company] and am on the lookout for a new job. I’m targeting [types of roles] with companies in [career space], and am specifically interested in working for organizations like [Company 1], [Company 2], or [Company 3].
If you happen to hear of any opportunities in [field], or if you know anyone who works at these companies, I’d love a referral or introduction! You’ll find a quick summary of my experience below, and I’ve attached my resume for reference.
I really appreciate your support! And, if there’s ever anything I can do to help you in your career, please don’t hesitate to ask.
[Short professional bio]
You can decide how much you share about the circumstances of your layoff when you share the news with your network. It’s perfectly fine to tell someone that you’re simply no longer working for your former employer—they’ll most likely understand and not ask questions. However, in some cases, explaining your layoff gives the person context and helps them better tailor their advice for your situation.
How to Share the News With Your Network on Social Media
This will probably be the last piece of the puzzle, and the reason for doing it isn’t to embarrass yourself further or make light of your circumstances. It’s about notifying your extended network—including your friends and contacts on social media who you otherwise wouldn’t reach out to via email—so they can help you in getting a job lead. If you need proof of how well this works, you should read this story about someone who posted about their layoff on LinkedIn.
You can keep your announcement short and sweet:
After [X years] with [Company], I’m now on the lookout for new opportunities! I’m excited about continuing to expand [skillset] in a [type of role] in [career space]. Message me if you know of any jobs that might be a fit!
I’m on the lookout for new opportunities! If you hear of any roles in [field] in [location], I’d love to hear from you. I have experience in [areas] and am excited to pursue [type of role/responsibilities].
If you were let go due to a well-publicized layoff, feel free to reference that, as it’s an easy way to explain why you left. You can share an article or press release about the layoff along with a brief line about being in the market for a new job:
Unfortunately, I’m one of the many people who was impacted by the recent layoffs at [Company]. I’m sad to be leaving but excited about what’s to come. I’m now officially on the lookout for [target job] roles in the [target industry] space. If you know of anything that might be a fit, send it my way!
But generally, the goal here isn’t to dwell on the layoff itself but to focus on finding a great new job.
The only thing harder than getting laid off might be breaking the news to others. It’s OK to feel a mix of emotions in this situation. But knowing that you have a strong support network cheering you on is sure to brighten your spirits and help you plot your next move.