8 essential tips to reclaim your tech career after a layoff

Three Aussie women share essential tips on how to bounce back after a tech layoff.

8 essential tips to reclaim your tech career after a layoff

Layoffs: The 2023 landscape

The tech layoffs that started in 2022 have continued well into 2023. If you feel that the redundancy announcements on LinkedIn haven’t eased up, you’d be right - according to Layoffs.fyi, the number of global redundancies in 2023 has exceeded those in 2022, with companies ranging from small startups all the way to tech giants like Meta, Twitter, Microsoft and Amazon making deep job cuts this year. 

Layoffs have a well-documented emotional, psychological and social impact on individuals regardless of gender, but women in tech face particular challenges. Being made redundant can be detrimental to one’s confidence and self-esteem, especially since women are already underrepresented in tech and face systemic barriers to career advancement. 

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Read our blogpost, "Do tech layoffs hurt women more?"

But a layoff does not have to spell the end of your confidence or your career. With the right strategies in place, you can reframe the experience into a new opportunity. In this article, we talk to three Australian women in tech who have experienced a layoff in the past year. They share their experience of being made redundant, and tips for getting back on your feet with a renewed sense of purpose and direction.

Layoffs: when the unthinkable happens

One Wednesday morning, Jane noticed a meeting invitation from her immediate supervisor and one-up manager. The product manager was initially nervous, but she didn’t want to get ahead of herself – she was in a small enough team that such meetings weren’t completely unusual. While browsing LinkedIn during her lunch break, she found out that one of her friends from another company had been laid off. After lunch, she joined the meeting with her managers, only to learn that she, too, had been made redundant.

For Jasmine*, a program manager at a healthcare company, the consultation period for her redundancy took place over a longer time period, but it came with no less stress or uncertainty. She had been part of a digital transformation project that suffered from poor management and team member burnout. As a result, the leadership decided to implement a restructure, with team members either taking up redeployments or leaving the company. Jasmine recalls, “You become a bit desperate, thinking… I can’t afford to lose my job. What will happen to me? Do I go to this other department for $20,000 less, or do I take another role worth $10,000 less and remain in the same team, but with a toxic manager? I knew I would feel bitter [if I stayed on]. So I had to go.” 

*name has been changed to protect the privacy of the individual.  

Tiffany, a software developer, worked for an online training company that had several waves of redundancies. She was not immediately impacted by the first round of layoffs. But a few months later, she got called into an early morning meeting with her manager where she discovered she had been caught up in a second round of redundancies. Tiffany remembers feeling overwhelmed. “In the call with my manager, I held back my tears. I knew it was not her fault… but I would suddenly have to stop working in two days. The team is so friendly, and my kids love them too. My kids would ask, ‘Where are your friends on the screen?’ It’s sad, but I knew I had to move on.” 

Tips to cope with a layoff

1. Practice kindness and self-care

Studies have shown that individuals being informed of their risk of redundancy undergo a psychological shock that triggers a fight or flight stress response. This is accompanied by a release of hormones that ramp up the heart rate and blood pressure (British Psychological Society, 2022). It’s easy to feel a sense of rejection and to question your inherent worth, when the threat feels so – well, existential. 

Jane stressed the importance of practicing kindness and self-care after finding out about an impending redundancy. Job loss is a significant event and many people undergo a grieving process, evoking emotions such as anger, denial, bargaining and hopelessness before moving into the stage of acceptance. It’s human to allow yourself to grieve. Coincidentally, Jane had already planned a long weekend away with her husband the weekend she had been laid off and found the change in scenery helpful for her to deal with her emotions. “I wanted to make sure I had the space to download it all, and acknowledge the feelings… not necessarily having a pity party, but to feel the feelings so that I could process them.” 

2. Talk to others

It can be helpful to share your feelings and get support from loved ones. While Tiffany was able to confide in her husband, she initially tried to put on a brave front before other members of her family. At one point, she recalls, “I pretended to be happy. I didn’t want to be sad in front of my family and have my parents or kids worry.” Eventually, she found it healthier for her to share her feelings and to get the support of her community and the people around her.

Jasmine made use of the Employee Assistance Program offered by her work to talk through the stressors she was undergoing with a mental health professional, which she found beneficial. She also used a meditation app to help her build her mindfulness skills and to cope with the negative emotions from the layoff. Jane reflects that in her experience, women are more likely to connect with others. “I’m a member of professional development communities like Product Anonymous and Tech Leading Ladies. I have a few people I connect with to share our experience going through job searches. And I find that men are perhaps more socialised to solve their problems rather than talking about it.” 

Two people having a chat over coffee.
(Credit: Photo by Priscilla Du Preez 🇨🇦 on Unsplash)

3. Take stock of your finances

Redundancies introduce immediate financial and lifestyle concerns. Jasmine’s redundancy collided with other major financial and life events, exacerbating her stress levels. She had just bought a house, and her mother had recently been hospitalised. Fortunately, she had built up significant emergency savings and had always been frugal. “I’d always tried to keep my expenses low. That meant cheap but quality clothing. I’d never get my hair done fancy, or do expensive skincare treatments.” 

Regardless of redundancy risk, it is a good idea to have an emergency fund that will cover at least 3-6 months of expenses. Jasmine used budgeting software to work out her expenses and to identify discretionary items that she could cut out, such as media subscriptions and daily barista coffees. Similarly, Jane found herself looking for resources in the wake of her layoff like free trials for gym classes or cheap yoga studio memberships, or going for walks – activities that are all free or low cost.

Jasmine also took the opportunity to brush up on her financial knowledge. She made use of the free workshops and webinars run by the Ladies Finance Club, which included topics like shares and investment options, career development and dealing with job loss. 

Glass jar with coins. A small shrub is sprouting from the coins.
(Credit: Photo by micheile henderson on Unsplash)

4. Put together a plan

After the initial shock wears off, take the opportunity to put together a plan for the coming weeks and months, whether it’s to start an immediate job search, or to take some time off to recover. 

Putting a plan together can help build a sense of purpose and direction. For Jane, her product management mindset came in handy. She leaned on her understanding of market conditions to look at which industries she could focus her job search on. “In the tech industry in Australia, we tend to follow the US. So it was a strategic approach for me. Which industries or domains are more resilient to economic shocks? I had worked through the last Global Financial Crisis as well, so I asked myself what sort of businesses were resilient to that as well. I looked at where my skills would be valued and positioned myself around that.”  

If your finances allow for it, the post-redundancy period can be a fruitful time to embark on life admin and personal projects. Jasmine took the time to set up her new house, tend to her garden, and even set up a shed in her backyard. She also did a digital cleanup and set up a password manager, so she felt she was doing something productive on days when she needed a break from doing job applications. 

5. Tap into your professional network 

One of the most valuable resources when embarking on a post-redundancy job search is to tap into your professional network. Tiffany shares that her former colleagues were eager to connect her to people in their networks who were looking for software engineering talent. In fact, she received such overwhelming support that she wasn’t able to keep up with all the messages she’d received. Eventually, she was connected to a recruiter who helped her line up interviews. Tiffany spent an intense few weeks conducting interviews and assignments, even staying up late to complete take-home challenges. The intensity of the job search paid off and she was able to land a new job four weeks after being made redundant. 

Jasmine decided that a LinkedIn Premium subscription was a worthwhile investment for her to look for new jobs and to gain analytics and insights beyond what was available in the basic account. LinkedIn Premium membership also gives you access to LinkedIn Learning, which can be handy if your goal is to learn new skills. She also made use of the Career Breaks feature on LinkedIn, which allows you to add context and share achievements made outside of permanent, ongoing employment.

6. Invest in yourself 

Redundancies and other career breaks are an opportunity to invest in upskilling and reskilling. Jane, who considers herself a lifelong learner, decided to resume her studies for a graduate certificate in service design to help enrich her product management practice.

Jasmine pursued a number of certifications, including a PMP certification, PMI-Agile Certified Practitioner, and the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). She also started exploring upskilling in cybersecurity, becoming a member of the Australian Women in Security Network in the process. Through Purple Team Australia, she signed up for a government-funded five-month pilot program aimed at increasing the participation of women and First Nations Australians in cybersecurity. “I decided to learn more about this area because I’d had some security projects as a program manager. [Cybersecurity] is going to be the way of the future, so I might as well educate myself.”  

Woman looking at notebook while sitting in front of her computer at home. She is smiling to herself.

7. Document your achievements

It’s easy for your self-esteem and confidence to take a hit after a redundancy, and recency bias can sometimes lead to forgetting or diminishing past achievements. Before embarking on her job search, Tiffany spent some time reflecting on her professional accomplishments. It helped that she had built up a habit of taking down notes detailing her contributions when she was still working. With this list, she was able to accurately match her skills against the position descriptions she encountered in her job search. 

During interviews, she would ask questions about what tech stacks the companies were using to work out if she could apply her transferable skills. “[At my new company] they use TypeScript, C#, and a similar architecture to ones used at my previous companies,” she explains. So while there were some new things she hadn’t done before, she knew she had the capability to succeed in the new environment. “I know I can apply my skills. As a developer, we learn everyday on the job.”  

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8. Reflect on what values are important to you 

Layoffs can bring clarity to what’s important to you personally and professionally. For Jane, she’s excited to combine her background in change management with her new focus on product management in her future roles. “I’m bringing human-centered design to my practice. I’m bringing together the product mindset and a design mindset and seeing what magic can happen there.”

Finding strong values alignment with her next employer became a priority for Jasmine. Her previous manager had a poor track record with retaining women on the team, and the previously gender-balanced team was replaced with an all male-team as a result of the restructure. Jasmine is much more discerning now about finding a job with a more supportive leadership style and an inclusive work culture where women can thrive. Jasmine has been looking for opportunities on Ethical Jobs and also recommends looking for companies that have a proactive approach to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in their organisations. 

Mindmap of questions to ask at a tech interview to determine if the workplace culture is toxic.
Want to weed out toxic workplaces? Here are the questions to ask at your next interview.

Turning a layoff into your next opportunity

As painful as they are in the moment, there are often silver linings to be found when going through a layoff. A redundancy can be used as a moment of introspection and to define what personal and professional values are important to you. While you may not be able to foresee a redundancy, or control whether it happens to you, you can very much control your response to it. Use the experience as a catalyst to embark on a new career direction, and as a way to undergo personal and professional growth. 


There are plenty of free and lost-cost resources to help your job search. Check state departments or statutory boards for free career guidance and support.