Just Laid Off From Your Tech Job? Here's What to Do Next.

James Schofield - May 29, 2023
Losing a great job can be a terrible feeling, but you want to get back on your feet quickly. Here a a few tips to help you tie up loose ends and make the most out of your exit.

Because of the amazing growth trajectory of many technology companies over the last decade or so, it’s easy to forget that the economy can cool off and when that happens, even great companies have to let people go.

Losing your job can be a terrible feeling, but it happens often, and before you get back to looking for your next opportunity, here are a few tips to make sure you tie up all loose ends and make the most out of your exit package:

  1. Log into your employee equity portal, likely with ShareWorks and decide what to do with any vested shares. If you have vested Employee stocks options (ESOs), you’ll want to exercise these, and you’ll probably have 90 days from your termination to do so. You should also move any vested RSUs. If your ESOs were granted pre-IPO, decide whether it makes sense to sell them now or keep them as they will not be taxed when you exercise. Check with your HR department to see when your last day to move any available shares.
  2. Ask your HR department how long your health and dental benefits last. They will almost certainly allow you to put through any claims for treatments prior to the layoff, but they may also allow for some time for dental and health claims after your termination.
  3. Apply for Employment Insurance (EI): Even if you’re receiving severance, you should apply as soon as possible. You will have to answer questions about your salary continuance/severance in the application, which will help the government determine when they should start paying your EI benefits.
  4. If you have a lifestyle spending account and chose to make RRSP contributions, you may want to consolidate that account with your existing investments. Otherwise, you’ll have two different RRSPs and the work one will likely be smaller easier to lose track of.
  5. Take some time to figure out what you want to do next; although it hurts in the moment, being let go can be a blessing in disguise. Maybe the company just made a choice for you that you were already considering. Even so, it helps to take a step back, realize your severance plus EI will give you some runway before you have to make decisions about your next job. You may already be receiving offers from other companies, again take some time to consider what you’re being offered. You probably have a highly marketable skillset so there’s no need to rush.
  6. After a few weeks, revisit your financial plan. This will help you plan your next few moves. For instance, you may be able to take 2023 off, and in that case, it could make sense you withdraw from your RRSP, if you’re not expecting any other income.