What To Do If You Were Laid Off Due To The Pandemic

In addition to dealing with a global pandemic and basically having to buy toilet paper and Clorox wipes off the black market, millions of people are currently filing for unemployment. As much as I’m thrilled that non-essential employees are staying home and know it’s beyond necessary right now, it means mass layoffs and furloughs. Depressing, right? And I thought the saddest thing I was going to see this week was Peter Weber’s TikToks.

If you are out of a job due to the pandemic—for one, I’m SO sorry. But, you’ve come to the right place. As much as I want everyone’s quarantine “job” to be watching Netflix and eating Ben & Jerry’s, rent and bills are, unfortunately, still a thing. And if you live in San Francisco like me, rent is a very big thing even though you would never guess from the size of my apartment.

I am the first one to acknowledge that what’s going on in the world right now is freaking hard. I mean, it’s a literal pandemic. And as much as I’m hoping I make you laugh with my (attempt at) jokes while giving sound career advice throughout this post, I know that if you lost your job, that must be super hard. I can’t imagine the stress and anxiety that this situation is causing millions. That being said, I don’t want a situation that we cannot control to stop anyone from getting their next career opportunity, if that’s where your head is at.

Just because we’re all pulling a full-on Rapunzel and locking ourselves away in our houses for the foreseeable future, does not mean that you cannot make moves to work towards getting a job. And lucky for you, your biggest decision today would have probably been whether to watch TV in the bedroom or the living room—so you’ve got some time on your hands. Here’s what you can do right now if you were just laid off.

Update Your Resume

You’ll hear any career experts say it time and time again: update your resume! I know it seems like a chore to write down your accomplishments, but you never know how soon you’ll get your next job interview. (And, again, what else are you doing?) So take off the quarantine goggles that are telling you to simply drink wine and watch Real Housewives all day and get to work.

You might be thinking, “I was never laid off before, how do I frame that in my resume?!” Well, look—I’m sure there are a ton of correct answers to how you could put this in your resume, but I think you could handle this in two different ways. I’m of the belief that when applying for a job, it’s actually a positive when a company realizes you are unemployed for a reason out of your control. That indicates that your performance is still great.

So I don’t think it hurts to put a small italic note at the bottom of your most current experience that says *Laid off due to COVID-19 or however you want to phrase it, and then secondly, when you do apply (yes, surprise, I’m recommending still applying for jobs), you can follow up in your cover letter reiterating this.

File For Unemployment

If you are out of work due to the pandemic, don’t forget to try and file for unemployment. I’ve seen on the news lately that it is extremely difficult to get through to unemployment offices right now, so even though the millions of Americans who are out of work should get this benefit, it doesn’t sound as easy as it should be.

In doing a few quick Google searches about how to file for unemployment, I learned that the benefit is provided by the state. So, when you Google to find out more, make sure you’re checking directions for your state specifically. It looks like each state has their own website, where you can see how you can file (ie phone, online, fax—but who has a fax anymore?!).

When you do decide to file, make sure you have the appropriate documentation and information ready. I’ve heard it’s hard to get through (either with the website crashing, or not getting through to the phone lines), so I don’t want you to miss your chance when you finally do get someone on the phone.

Good luck on this one. It sounds like a super difficult (and potentially frustrating) process, but despite that, it absolutely doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. You might even want to come up with a strategy to try to get through faster, like setting alarms and logging onto websites at off hours. The outcome is some income, and it is definitely worth the wait for that (and some states, like New York, will pay out retroactively to account for how difficult it is to get through to the unemployment office).

Learn A New Skill

From Zoom happy hours to trying to figure out how to actually cook myself meals, I know quarantine can seem busy. But wouldn’t it be cool if you came out of it with a new skill you could market to employers? Lots of colleges and other places are offering free online classes, and it’s the perfect time to get that certification you’ve had your eye on for years. When else will so many digital things be free? Probably never, that’s when.

This might not only pass the time—it could also beef up your resume. Especially if there’s some sort of skill or course you need for the new type of job you want—this could be a good time. Maybe you’ll even discover a new passion and turn into one of those people you see in commercials who started a tiny business out of their kitchen and is now a millionaire. Don’t forget about me when you’re famous, ok!?


Regardless of the pandemic, I’ll always vouch for networking. You never know when someone will refer you directly to their company, which is a whole lot more powerful than applying online.

As we said before, it seems like, over everything, many people (not all, but many) have time right now! Also, I imagine a lot of people would be open to talking about something other than the world falling apart right now. You could probably find a lot of people who are open to a phone conversation nowadays. I’m always a big fan of reaching out via LinkedIn, or even guessing someone’s email address at a company. Who knows, maybe they’ll be a great contact.

When you are networking, remember, this layoff is not about you or your performance, so don’t let it seep into your confidence.

One tip: Be mindful of how you network. Maybe do a quick Google search of the company before you reach out to make sure there weren’t mass layoffs there too. The last thing you want to do is come off tone-deaf, but I think if you phrase it in a respectful way, you’ll be gucci.

Apply For Jobs

When I’ve seen people online talk about getting laid off during this time, it’s usually paired with something like, “and I can’t apply for new jobs right now”. It probably is an extremely competitive time to try and find a new job, since so many people became unemployed all at the same time and many companies are not hiring.

The notion I want to clear up, though, is there are still some companies that are hiring. Not all, but some. Some industries are absolutely struggling right now, that’s no secret, but there’s a whole slew that aren’t.

I’m going to tell you a little secret. There’s a website (it’s all user-generated, so take it with a grain of salt): that has listed over four thousand companies’ hiring statuses. You can use this site as a starting point for those who still have job open to whittle some down.

Most importantly, I don’t think it hurts to apply and try to interview—because what’s the risk at that point? You’ll watch one less episode of Gossip Girl today? Worst-case scenario, you practice interviewing for when this is all over. Best-case? You’re employed.

That’s all folks, thanks for coming to my TedTalk. If anything, I hope this post inspires you to take your career into your own hands and start taking action before the pandemic is over, because honestly, I’m not good for much else right now.

Images: Emma Matthews Digital Content Production / Unsplash

Becky Bush
Becky Bush
Becky is a San Francisco twenty-something techie, who is also oddly obsessed with resumes and career advice. When Becky's not watching reruns of Gilmore Girls, you can find her (attempting) to do TikTok's in her apartment. Go follow her on Instagram (@thetypicaltwentysomething) or her career blog ( to get more job advice that will make you laugh and (surprise!) actually work.