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Just Been Laid Off: A Survival Guide for SEO Professionals

If you've just been laid off or fired it can be terrifying. The advice in this guide will help you survive as you begin your journey back to full employment.

This is it. You’ve been called into a meeting by your manager

They explain that they are making cutbacks.

You’ve just been laid off.

They escort you out.

The entire exchange took approximately 10 minutes.

Maybe 20 if they had a hard time letting you go, and you got the chance to say goodbye to everybody.

All too often in the corporate world, the above scenario is surprisingly common.

Cutbacks and layoffs occur, and they are beyond your control.

How do you recover from such a scenario?

Luckily, there are a few things you can after you are laid off to minimize the damage that such an action can cause.

Apply for Unemployment

Assuming you were laid off and not fired for bad behavior such as stealing, you will likely be able to collect unemployment (at least in California).

You will need to file for unemployment immediately.

Depending on your state, it can take up to three weeks to get things completed just to get the interview, so delaying will only make things worse for you.

Do not delay.

Take a Day or Two Off and Decompress

Just Got Laid Off, Happy Guy Leaving Work

It is never a fun moment in anyone’s career to find out they are laid off or fired.

How you deal with it is important.

Don’t go to your boss and hit them. Don’t scream and yell.

Be good at adulting for a moment and hold your head high.

Say thank you for the opportunity, and make a quick exit.

They have already made their decision.

Attempting to bargain – or worse, commit acts of violence – will only make you look bad.

Take the next day or two off and decompress.

Do your favorite things that you have neglected for a while.

Take a walk on the beach. Spend time with your loved ones.

Mentally decompress and enjoy a few days alone before you embark on the next leg of your career.

Immediately Dust Off and Polish Your Resumé

If you did not see your situation coming, you may not have your resumé ready. That’s OK.

Get your butt in gear and get it done.

If you are not very keen on your resumé writing skills, hire a professional resumé writer to have it written for you. Then you can modify it later and make it your own.

The key is to have a resumé that eloquently and succinctly communicates your skills and all you can deliver to the position you are applying for.

Don’t just set up a resumé template.

Customize it and tailor it to the position you are applying for.

But, that does not mean lie about your skills. That means do things like highlight your relevant experience and expertise.

With your cover letter, you want to customize your cover letter for the company you are applying to. Ask for an in-person meeting.

If you are lucky, this approach will help you win responses and replies to your resumé, and you may soon have a job.

Assess Your Money Situation for the Next 1-3 Months

Worried Woman Getting Let Go

Now is not the time to splurge.

If you’ve been laid off, and you didn’t see it coming, you likely don’t have any income streams in place.

This can be disastrous, especially if you have an apartment and cannot afford rent. It’s a good idea to follow a rule that will benefit your situation.

Don’t follow a rule just because you saw Suze Orman talk about it. Assess whether it really will benefit your situation and you really can stick to it, because your finances and how you look at the end of this debacle will depend on it.

If you are thousands of dollars in debt, and you have a modest income coming in, you will probably want to cut all meals out and live frugally until you can find another job.

If your monthly bills exceed your unemployment, you must take more drastic action.

You may have to network and find as many possible business partners as possible.

Find an agency you can partner with for overflow work or network with as many people in your business group as possible to find clients.

It’s much easier said than done, but if you can get a little bit of work coming in, you’ll be that much better off.

Don’t quit when the going gets tough.

It’s important to keep up your efforts consistently if you want to get any meaningful income coming in.

Create a Budget and Stick To It

Your income sources have likely all dried up, and you will feel it when the time comes to pay those bills.

It’s better to tighten the reigns now and make sure you stick to your budget.

You don’t want to arrive at bills time and find that one or more of your bills are late, or worse, can’t get paid on time.

Some jobs rely on your good credit to hire you, and a black mark now can only hurt you.

Look at all your subscriptions.

Subscriptions to tools like SEMRush and Moz are great to have for SEO audits, but if they are burning a hole in your pocket and you have no other money coming in, it can get painful.

It is best to cut all unnecessary subscriptions here now so that they don’t come around and bite you later.

Cut out all other unnecessary expenses as well. Focus only on those that are necessary (food, recurring expenses like bathroom soap, and others).

Now is not the time to entertain your ego. Put the ego aside, and ask your parents for help if it gets so bad that that is necessary.

Begin Your Search for a New Job

Sad Man After Being Laid Off

Sites like,,,, and are all excellent platforms for job searching.

Research the background of the companies you are applying for. Get an idea of the company’s state of their SEO, so you can discuss it in an interview if it comes up.

Identify where your strengths will be most effective, and find the opportunity to fix things for that employer.

The better value you can communicate and sell to your potential employer, the better.

Be sure to know your worth and value in the marketplace.

Nothing’s worse than finding out six months in that you bid your price far too low for the job or another major issue that comes up later.

That’s why it is so important to do all your homework in the beginning.

Assess What You Can Offer Potential Clients

If you’re lucky, the job opportunities will come quickly, and you won’t have to go through sustained long-term unemployment.

But, if you do, you will want to take a few steps to put yourself out there, so you can get some clients of your own.

First, you will want to assess your abilities and identify what you can offer potential clients.

Do you like SEO audits? Or do you have a slant towards photography and other creative endeavors?

This could be the chance and opportunity you need to turn any of your other skills into a marketable business.

Take a close inventory of what you can do and have done in the past for previous employers and clients.

Once you have done this, you can identify your USP, or unique selling proposition. This is the value that you bring to the marketplace, and how you can position yourself above your competition.

If You Don’t Have a Website, Get One Immediately

It is unfathomable that some online professionals do not have a website. They don’t have any online presence, but their business is online.

What the heck, people?

If you are an online professional, you must have a website. It’s a business requirement.

Hosting is so cheap, and a domain name is cheap, and even SSL certificates are available for free, and inexpensive if you want a wildcarded SSL certificate.

There is no excuse not to have a website if you do any portion of your business online. And be sure showcase your portfolio of past work if that is at all doable.


The world of unemployment can be scary, especially if you have not been laid off or fired before. But, even more so when you have bills that exceed what unemployment can provide.

Keep your head straight, hold your head high, follow some of the real-world advice in this guide, and you may be able to beat this thing.

No online guide can replace common-sense advice and execution, but hopefully, the advice in this guide will help you to better make ends meet and navigate the terrifying world of being laid off.

If you find yourself in this precarious position, this author’s heart goes out to you and wishes you the absolute best of luck on your journey back to full employment.

More SEO Career Resources:

Category Careers
VIP CONTRIBUTOR Brian Harnish Senior SEO Analyst at Bruce Clay, Inc.

Brian has been doing SEO since before it was called SEO, back in the days of 1998. Back then, SEO ...

Just Been Laid Off: A Survival Guide for SEO Professionals

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