3 Questions You Must Ask If You Get Fired or Laid Off

February 13th, 2020

It’s a company merger and a warning of upcoming layoffs. It’s that unexpected request for a meeting in your boss’s office. It’s entering a room and having the HR director ask you to sit down.


No one wants to be in the position of losing their job, but if you find yourself there, it’s important to stay calm and collected. This is the time to maintain your professional composure and ask a few very important questions before walking out the door.

Why am I being terminated?

This might be communicated during your meeting, but in most states an explanation is not required by law. If you’re not told, you should ask. The situation may have been entirely out of your hands, but if it is due to poor performance or another issue, you can at least take note and make changes for the future so history doesn’t repeat itself. If you are leaving on good terms, ask about getting a professional reference (written and/or electronic) before you leave. It will be good to have on hand as you start job hunting.

Do you offer outplacement services?

Some companies offer employers who are laid off outplacement services to help facilitate their transition into another job. That means they pay for you to get professional help with job search strategies, resume writing and interview tips. You may even get direct access to a career coach. Ask about this option and stress how important it is to you so you can move on with a positive mindset both toward the company and your future.

What benefits extend and how long do they last?

Most people depend on their employer to subsidize important benefits such as health insurance. Some companies offer continuing coverage, so it’s important to get the details and know how long the benefits last. If you receive some type of severance package, inquire into the details of each item offered as well. In addition to continued salary for a certain period of time, you may get extended retirement benefits, PTO payoffs, and various memberships’ dues paid for a certain period of time.

It’s never easy to lose your job. Whether you’re expecting it or not, it’s important to use the moments during your meeting to your advantage. By asking these questions, you’ll help protect your future and get the most out of your employer before moving on to the next chapter of your life.

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