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Something major just happened. I got laid off from my sales job.

Well, that was actually three weeks ago.

Because yesterday, I signed an offer letter for a closing role with a 50-person, venture-backed, tech startup that just raised $13.5 million from Battery and Google Ventures.

And I know, it was the plan I put together in those first 48-hours that made this opportunity possible. It gave me a massive advantage over the other sales applicants during my job hunt.

So, if you just got laid off, follow this step-by-step survival guide for the next 48-hours. Follow it closely.

Otherwise, the grizzly bears will catch you.

6 step plan for when I got laid off

First off, if it’s 10am and your co-worker suddenly comes back to her desk crying. Packs up her stuff and leaves.

Then a calendar invite pops up on your screen, requesting that you meet with your VP of Sales in 30 minutes.

You are probably about to get laid off.

Don’t panic.

Follow these steps in the next 48-hours to position yourself for the absolute best possible outcome. Guaranteed.

#1: Write down sales performance stats

You need your sales performance stats to update your resume and LinkedIn profile. Write down your co-workers’ sales stats too. That way, you can draw comparisons between you and them.

Like, “ranked #1 sales rep YTD on a team of 8.”

Only if that’s true of course ūüėČ


Maybe your sales dashboard looks something like this. I trust your name is on the far left.

#2: Save personal files

Drop your personal files onto a flash drive. Once you leave the office, there’s no going back.

Here are a few things to think about:

  • personal photos
  • pay stubs
  • tax information
  • quarterly performance reviews
  • personal contacts

Just remember, you probably signed a proprietary information agreement when you joined the company. Which basically means don’t take anything that’s not yours.

#3: Read all legal documents

Now, HR is going to sit you down and ask you to sign a bunch of legal documents. Read them.

Because when you sign them, you are essentially agreeing to these 3 things:

  1. you are no longer an employee
  2. you received your final wages due
  3. you won’t sue the company

Take your time. Don’t feel pressured into signing anything. Make sure you understand what the documents mean.

If you don’t like the terms, just say, “I’ll think about it.” And walk out.

I know that worked for one guy because he still works at the company.

#4: Thank people in the office

This step is so important before you move onto #5. You are likely an “at-will” employee, which means you choose to go to work every day.

So, be grateful for the employment opportunity you had.

On your way out, say things like “thank you” and “good working with you.”

This kind of stuff, when done genuinely, helps build relationships.

#5: Ask for references

Even if you weren’t a good employee (I know that’s not true for you), most people will still be a reference.

Mostly because they don’t want you going crazy on them. And don’t really care if you become someone else’s problem.

So ask for references in person, before you leave the office.

Say, “would you mind being a reference for me so I can find a good job?”

Then right when you get home, send five or more co-workers a LinkedIn message requesting their recommendation.

You can use this template:


In fact, do this right now before you forget. It’s always good to have recommendations on your profile.

#6: Send thank you emails

Thank you emails are even more important when you get laid off.

You need your co-workers and managers to tell the world how great you are. And a well crafted thank you email can have this effect.

I thanked the founder and CEO as well, who then offered to be a reference anytime. That’s powerful stuff.

Here’s what I wrote. You can use it too.

Hey [First Name] –

As I’m sure you know, I was laid off from [Company Name] last week.

It was certainly sad news to be let go, but I wanted to be sure to thank you on the way out.

I really appreciate the opportunity to be a part of the¬†[Company Name] journey over the past year and a half. It’s been an exciting ride for me and I certainly¬†learned a ton in the process. Congrats on all your success thus far. I sense there will be cause for more celebration in the next 6-24 months too.

Thanks again [First Name] for inviting me to be a part of your vision.

Hope to see you around town.




I am sharing this with you because it worked really well for me.

Simply put, make sure you write down your sales performance stats, be grateful for the job opportunity, thank your co-workers and get references (lots of them)!

After those first 48-hours, I went job hunting for an intense 2.5 weeks. I averaged 2 – 4 interviews per day at more than 15 different companies. That resulted in 2 formal offers, and all other companies requesting final stage interviews.

I’d be happy to share some of the tools and strategies I used to run my job hunt process (like my profile) or even my sales interview cheat sheet.

In the comments below, just let me know if it would be valuable to hear.

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11 Comments 48-Hour Survival Guide for When I Got Laid Off from Sales Job

  1. Jess says:

    Yes please!

  2. Patrick says:

    Thanks for the advice. Very classy and smart.

  3. Great article Ian, so many sales people are unprepared when their turn arrives to move on. If everyone took this advice their next step would be so much smoother and could be executed with confidence. Thanks. Marie

  4. Cory T says:

    #7: Withhold the urge to speak the truth about the quality of the company – for the *entire* 48 hours. I could have used this survival guide on a few occasions already.

    • Ian Adams says:

      Haha yes that is officially added. By the way, I’m getting a lot of follower engagement on twitter. Do you have anything to do with that?

  5. rita says:

    Extra TIP:
    I even called some colleagues to say “good-bye” (2 women cried on the phone) and I wrote a short “bye-bye” eMail to all my remaining co-workers. I learned so much at the company I worked for, that in 2010 I left with a “think big” attitude.

  6. […] It’s particularly gratifying given the fact I was abruptly laid off the other day. […]

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