How To Support Your Friend Who Just Got Laid Off

If you ask anyone what they define themselves by, chances are they will say a mixture of things such as their family, friends, and careers. This list makes sense because our friends and our family are oftentimes our lifelines and many of us invest time and money into the careers we choose. Because of the importance we place on our careers, in particular, if we get laid off from our jobs, it can feel like a major blow. Not only is it a scary time because we literally need our jobs to reach our financial goals, but getting laid off can also take a toll on us mentally. It is a feeling of rejection that is unlike any other.


If you've ever had a friend who has been laid off from a job, no matter the reason, you know how helpless you can feel when it comes to building them back up again. The good news is that there are many ways you can be a supportive friend during this time of need for someone close to you.

Consider your approach

Finding the right words to say when supporting your friend through this situation can be tricky. What can be a comfort to some does the exact opposite to others because no two people have the exact same needs when they are stressed about something as significant as a job loss. When you show up physically and mentally for your friend, determine how you believe they would like to be approached. If you are a close enough friend, you may know what type of personality they have. Maybe they keep their cards very close or maybe getting it all out on the table is beneficial for them. 


If you are close enough to know their love language, consider if they would be more open to spending some quality time with you, or perhaps a gentle hug will go a long way to make things better. If they are a person who would feel better if they are actively moving forward in a productive way, be there for them as they try to find their personal balance again. No matter the personality test you employ, by approaching your friend just right, you may be successful in your desire to help them through this time.

Be an outlet

The best thing you can do for your friend who is suffering through a layoff is check in to see how they are handling it all. For some, it could be a welcome change that they cannot see yet, and for others, this could be a significant loss of sense of self and security. By allowing yourself to be a healthy and safe outlet for them to share their feelings about the layoff, they will know that they can vent to you and express their concerns without judgment.


Once you've checked in with them directly after the event, verbalize that your support will be constant. They can turn to you when the rollercoaster of emotions gets too erratic. The periodic check-ins will allow them to consistently have a place to work through their highs and lows during this time. If they seem to need more of your time and attention than you can give, suggest seeking out help from a professional.

Validate their feelings

Another great way to show up for your friend who is going through a layoff is to validate their feelings about this process. They may have a mix of emotions that confuses them, and they may need reassurance that their feelings are normal no matter how raw they feel. Suffering a layoff is another form of grieving and it should be treated that way. 


If your friend suffered the loss of a loved one, you would never tell them to get over it and everything will be alright. The same goes for the loss of a job. Since you don't know what is going to be next for them, invalidating their complex emotions isn't a way to be a true friend. Instead, start with statements like "I understand this is so unexpected ... " or "How you're feeling is completely normal ... " so that they know they have a safe place to vent their emotions.

Be empathetic

When you show up for your friend, the last thing they are going to need is your pity or sympathy. Approaching the situation that way will only insult the person you are trying to support. Both pity and sympathy show judgment, and the last thing they need is to feel judged after they've just been told they are unemployed. Instead, approach your friend's predicament with empathy, letting them know you understand how they are feeling and want to support them through the highs and the lows of this process.


Ask leading questions about how they are feeling, such as what they think about the loss, and where they need you most. Sometimes just being someone who lets them talk rather than someone who has so many suggestions about how they should be living is the best gift you can give your friend. By leading with empathy, your friend will understand that you are a safe place for them. It will calm their anxieties and validate their worth as an individual and prospective employee.

Don't avoid the topic

Part of being a supportive friend in a situation as delicate as a layoff is not shying away from the issue. If your friend wants to vent or reflect on this incident in their life, the worst thing you can do is change the subject. By doing so, they will feel unsupported, and it will have the opposite effect on their mood. Instead, let them drive the conversation, and look for ways you can support them by leaning into conversations around the fact that your friend has lost their job. 


If they are allowed to be completely honest with you and open about their feelings, they will feel supported in the best way, and they will know you are a trusted friend. Being let go from a job can be a very isolating feeling. By being there for the hard parts of friendship, it will show them they are not alone.

Help them focus on their health

If your friend has been let go from a job that they loved, it can be a pretty large blow to them mentally. Events this catastrophic can knock them to a low place, oftentimes unearthing anxiety and depression that can come from grief. This layoff is a loss to them, and having a friend along for the ride is very important. The best way to start moving forward is to help them understand how important it is for them to take care of themselves physically and mentally. 


People Matters recommends helping them take time for themselves. Moving physically, eating well, and taking time for their mental health are all ways they can take care of their basic human needs so that they can heal from this loss. By having a handle on the parts of their health that they can control, they will have a balanced approach as to how to achieve the new goals they have to set for their happiness.

Help them focus on the future

When a person experiences something as earth-shattering as a layoff, thinking clearly can be difficult. Once your friend has fully accepted and understood their new situation, they may be ready to start thinking about their next steps. Acceptance is essential before heading into this step, but if they are ready, it can be an exciting and empowering conversation. According to the Michael Garrison Hospital Foundation, having something to look forward to reduces the feelings of stress and anxiety that can come from a time of uncertainty. 


Sometimes it takes something as massive as a layoff to get a person to be creative in searching out their next endeavor. Have a conversation about what they ultimately desire in a job, and what their short and long-term goals are. By identifying these points, you and your friend can brainstorm where to put energy when it comes to a new job search.

Be there for the long haul

Supporting your friend when they initially hear the bad news of their layoff is critical. Because it is a stressful and confusing time, it is vital that they know they are not alone. However, even when they seem to be getting back on their feet, they still need you there. Once your friend has found their footing, it is okay to give them a little space but continue to check back in with them. Your support at first might have been more intense with daily check-ins, and now, checking on them once a week is a great idea. 


Although they have moved on, they still may need a friend to bounce their new career ideas off. A true friend will be there for the long haul, and it will be very satisfying for you to see them as they learn to rebuild and soar in their next career.