According to Heitmann, it’s clichéd but true: Whether you expected to be laid off or not, it can feel stressful, confusing and overwhelming, so take a moment to breathe. “You’ll probably have a million thoughts going through your mind, so take the time to pause and understand what this means for you.”
Reflect on any follow-up questions. Often, you’ll be offered a severance package on the spot. Take a minute to consider its scope before you make any immediate moves or decisions—in other words, you don’t have to sign the exit agreement the minute it hits your inbox, Heitmann says. (An expedient answer is usually required, but don’t sign anything you haven’t fully reviewed.)
Ask HR for the specifics. Again, they’ll likely deliver a full breakdown of your benefits and severance right away, but it doesn’t hurt to dust off the employee handbook to find out exactly how your company handles payment for unused vacation days or PTO post-layoff, when you can expect that last paycheck and what will happen with your 401(k) and insurance. Also, keep in mind that there could be room to negotiate your severance package.