Community Manager
Community Manager

USAA Member Community Post Layoff Checklist.jpg

Whether you call it a layoff, reduction in force, or a RIF, “getting a pink slip” and getting “let go” isn’t something you look forward to. I know. It has happened to me twice since I became a Veteran.


I know other Veterans who’ve experienced the realities of losing a job. Some worked in highly volatile industries that have a high turnover ratio (as in, there seems to be a revolving door at the front entrance of the office.) Others got caught in the middle of the familiar and constant change that companies go through. Still others felt like it was déjà vu since they just got an early exit from the military.


For me, the first layoff I experienced resulted in writing a book about the Military-to-Civilian career transition. I had a series of exciting private sector jobs that I thought would be there for the long haul, but it didn’t work out that way. The second layoff happened 10 years after the first. Although any RIF is tough, the lessons learned in the process helped me land on my feet as well as help others do the same. The journey from military-to-civilian life, with all its ups & downs, is what this GOING CIVILIAN Community is all about – sharing stories designed to help you learn from our mistakes and successes.


What follows is a Post-Layoff Checklist I’ve developed over the years. Even if you’re not in the midst of a RIF or layoff, this information might be helpful if you’re in the middle of a military-to-civilian career transition.


  • First and foremost, THINK POSITIVE! Even though the news is not what you wanted, now’s the time to look at this as an opportunity to write the next chapter in your life. Up until now, you’ve gained valuable experience. If you remember this and leverage this fact, you will be well on your way to the great things ahead of you.

  • Connect with others affected by the RIF. That sense of community found in the group of people facing similar situations can help you sort through the emotional aspects and get focused on the next steps involved in moving forward. Your co-workers provide a “safe place” to discuss whatever’s going on in your head from now until you get rehired and beyond.

  • Within the established rules and guidelines of your company, print out or save examples of your work. You’ll need to be aware of all the intellectual property and non-disclosure aspects of your company, but you need to retain some sort of authorized examples of the work you did. This will help you back up your claims of how much value you can bring to the next opportunity.

  • Take advantage of the “transition assistance” programs available as a result of your RIF. Most companies provide resume review services, interview coaching, and other transition support via a third party company. These programs are free and can help you position yourself in the best manner possible.

  • Ask your former manager, co-workers, and customers for Letters of Recommendation. What better way to enhance your hire-ability than to provide proof that others believe in you and the value you can bring. Don’t be afraid to ask for such letters AND be willing to write a letter for someone or offer to be a professional reference for someone else.

  • Explore “internal” job opportunities if at all possible. Sometimes companies RIF only a specific business unit within the larger organization. The reasons for this vary by company, but you may be able to find work at a part of the existing company – hopefully in a business unit that seems to have more longevity than the last. The great thing about finding an internal position is that you’re already familiar with the corporate culture, you know the people, and you can maintain continuity on your resume. See what’s available and apply today.

  • Lean on any employee-centric organizations for support. If you belong to any groups that involve a specific skill, gender, nationality, or job type, reach out to these groups to find out how they can help you. These important associations provide extra sets of eyes and ears on potential opportunities that you need to know about.

  • Continue to communicate with the Human Resources people assigned to helping you through transition. You’ll have some specific tasks to accomplish prior to your last day on the job. Keep on top of things by staying organized and continue to follow-up and follow-through on any assigned tasks. When in doubt, ask a question to HR to find answers to questions specific to you. Don’t rely solely on what others might tell you about certain aspects of the RIF, as their individual situation may vary from yours.

  • Be sure to let future Hiring Managers know the scope of the Reduction in Force. If a company makes a change that affects a dozen people, one hundred people, or several thousands of people, you need to be able to explain the reasons for the RIF. Keep it positive! Remember, the reasons for a RIF are many – don’t make it seem as though you were singled out. You need to show that you’re ready for what’s ahead, not what’s behind.Getting news of a layoff is something many people have and will deal with in the future. How we choose to respond to this news is critical to our ability to move on and get hired for the next work-related opportunity.I hope you never experience a RIF, but if you do, I hope this Post-Layoff Checklist will help you get focused on the right things right away, and get some forward momentum going.

Have something to add to this article? Share your advice in the comments below.


About the Author:

Charles "Chazz" Pratt III is a former U.S. Army Captain who made the Military-to-Civilian career transition in 1994. In his book, The Fort Living Room Transition Course, he shares valuable tips and tricks to help you succeed. Since his transition from the military, he's worked in sales and marketing in the medical field. When not working or writing, Chazz enjoys spending time with his wife and kids as well as playing the saxophone. His goal is to provide unique perspectives on what happens before, during, and after the military-to-civilian career transition.


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