Skip to main content

Lost Your Job? 6 Things to Do in the First 24 Hours

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

Alexis has worked in human resources and assisted several individuals in finding gainful employment.

Here's what to do the first day you get laid off.

Here's what to do the first day you get laid off.

Lost My Job, Now What?

As I was preparing to head back for what would be my fourth year of teaching, a letter arrived in the mail. I assumed it was my long-awaited contract. Instead, it was a letter stating that I was being laid off. Thankfully, I was able to find a new job in two weeks, thanks to well-placed strategies from the initial day.

Being laid off sucks. It’s something that happens to virtually everyone at least once in their lifetime. If it hasn’t happened to you, you’re very lucky. For those who have gotten laid off, they can attest it’s a very humbling and soul-crushing decision. As much as we strive to make our lives not revolve around money, money does pay the bills that need to be paid.

People lose jobs for a variety of reasons, and there’s no ideal time. If you’re lucky, you have a few months of savings to keep you afloat. The most important thing to keep in mind is that this is not permanent. Eventually, you will find a job, even if it’s not your ideal job. The first 24 hours are when things start to sink in, and there are a couple of things to do to help you through the first hurdle.

1. Don’t Beat Yourself Up

Arguably the hardest thing after losing your job is to not beat yourself up. Blame may come up after several days have based, but it will inevitably rear its ugly head. Don’t let it win. Were you laid off? Not your fault, and it’s incredibly likely there isn’t anything you could’ve done to control what happened. Fired? It happens, and something better is out there. Forgiving yourself, regardless of whether justified or not, is critical. If not, it IS going to show when you’re job hunting which will make it harder to find a job.

2. Look Into Unemployment

This article is based on the United States. Depending on your state, the unemployment policies will vary. Check with your state immediately to see the requirements. Note that the title says ‘look.’ You should file as soon as possible, but I’d recommend waiting a day to let things settle in before you state the paperwork. Don’t wait more than a few days because the process can take a while, and you don’t want to be without a paycheck if you should be getting one!

3. Treat Yourself

Just like Tom and Donna in Parks and Recreation, you should treat yourself. Losing a job is a blow, and a little personal therapy is a good first step. I don’t recommend going on a shopping spree (you need some of that money!), but a trip to a movie, a nice dinner or a book you’ve been eying is a healthy choice. Plus, when you look back, you can think that there was something good about that day you were laid off!

4. Talk About it

When I was laid off for the first time after over ten years in the workforce, I called a coworker within minutes. Come to find out, I wasn’t the only one, which did help things. It also helped to break down my pride and admit life had given me a setback. Talking is healthy, and getting a positive outside look into what just happened may be just what you need. Plus, the person on the other end might know of your next job! Networking—that’s how you get a job in a lot of cases!


This falls under a similar umbrella as "talk about it." Maybe there were signs you would lose your job? Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise and one placing you a little bit closer to your dream job. You can start slow at first (it’s only been a few hours!), but reaching out to your network and scanning what’s out there is something to consider. Even if it’s just mentally listing two types of jobs you’ll be interested in pursuing. This said, it is completely possible to get a job within a couple of days of losing yours! Speaking from experience here!

5. Look at Your Finances

No job means no money coming in unless you have a second job, at least until unemployment or your next job starts. It’s hard and scary to look at, but take a look at your finances and see what you can cut in the immediate future and further down the road if you don’t get a job within 3–4 months. Budgeting should start happening as soon as you have it figured out as well. Think of the following

  • How much you have in checking/savings
  • Debts
  • Bills every month
  • Upcoming bills
  • What can be cut?
  • Tentative future planning?

6. Start Planning Immediately

Don’t have a job? Looking for a job should be your job. It’s reiterated time and time again in virtually every article about job hunting. It’s done for a reason. Maybe not in the first 24 hours, but you should start planning a daily schedule of how to go about finding a job. Start thinking of goals and just write them down, don’t pursue them just yet. You should give yourself some downtime as things start to settle in. At least dust off that old resume!

You Will Find Each Other!

Losing a job is horrible. Even if you hated your job, it was still a source of income. Even a layoff causes a serious blow to your self-esteem. Remember to take time for yourself, and now may be when you finally sit down and learn a foreign language or how to do Javascript! Never forget that a job loss is not forever, even if it takes a few months. There are hundreds, thousands of employers looking for you; you two just have to find each other!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.