184. How to tell people you lost your job: The challenging art of networking after a layoff

redundancy & job loss May 01, 2023
How to tell people you lost your job

When you lose your job, it can be so hard to tell people what happened. The same is true when you haven't had a job for a long time - it can be so hard to network and have to answer the question we often get: "What do you do?"

So in this episode, I will talk about how I have told people I lost my job in the past when I was still in the corporate sector. I also provide insight, as a career coach supporting many professionals, how I see other professionals doing it more recently.

This episode will be helpful if you have been laid off or if you have not worked for a while and want to go back into networking as part of your job search strategy.

When you lose your job, do this first

I start by discussing what I believe is an important first step: Telling your inner circle. I suggest confiding in a couple of people you trust who won't judge you and provide immediate emotional support. If you don't have such people, consider reaching out to a helpline. I once received a message from a podcast listener telling me how comforting it was for him to listen to the podcast. He had been getting ready for work and driving around his town listening to this podcast for weeks and had not yet told anybody he had lost his job. It broke my heart.

The trap of being too attached to your job

When it comes to people you've worked with and friends and family, take your time to tell them, and it's okay to not know what to say at first. Networking can also be challenging when you're not working, and people often ask, "What do you do?" But you're more than your job title, and it's essential to introduce yourself by your field and acknowledge that your experience is yours to keep and share.

We can actually become better at helping the corporate world evolve and stop focusing so much on the job we have and instead focus more on getting to know each other as a person. Many of us fall into the trap of asking, "What do you do?" during conversations, so it's crucial to remember that a person's job doesn't define them. Instead, we can ask other questions like, "What fills your time?" or "What are you great at professionally or personally?"

I hope this episode provides you with valuable insights and helps you navigate the challenges of telling people you've lost your job or answering the "What do you do?" question during networking events. Remember, your worth and identity go beyond your job title. 

Timestamps to guide your listening:

  • 04:03 - Telling your inner circle
  • 09:06 - Answering the "What do you do?" question when you're not working.
  • 11:12 - When your job has been the backbone of your identity
  • 14:42 - When you also feel betrayed by your employer
  • 17:37 - How we can make it better for others. 

Links mentioned in this episode:

Are you new to The Job Hunting Podcast? 

Hello, I’m Renata Bernarde, the Host of The Job Hunting Podcast. I’m also an executive coach, job hunting expert, and career strategist. I teach corporate, non-profit, and public professionals the steps and frameworks to help them find great jobs, change, and advance their careers with confidence and less stress. 

If you are 1) an ambitious professional who is keen to develop a robust career plan, 2) looking to find your next job or promotion, or 3) you want to keep a finger on the pulse of the job market so that when you are ready, and an opportunity arises, you can hit the ground running – then this podcast is for you. In addition to The Job Hunting Podcast, I have developed a range of courses and services for professionals in career or job transition. And, of course, I also coach private clients. 

So there is no excuse – I’m determined to help you! I want you to feel empowered, nail your next job, and have the career you want.

Enjoy the episode, and ciao for now!


Renata Bernarde | Job Hunting Expert

[email protected]


I cannot recommend it highly enough.

To my friends and colleagues who are currently job hunting, this podcast is for you. Renata Bernarde and her stellar line up of guests very generously share their perspective, advice, behind-the-scene secrets, tips, and anecdotes. "It's called The Job Hunting Podcast (it is what it says on the tin!) Guests include Anita Ziemer, Michelle Redfern, Mohit Bhargava. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Run. Don't Walk." - LinkedIn post shared by Amber Knight.

We listened, and we both got jobs!

"I am writing to let you know that I got a job. I found The Job Hunting Podcast because a friend of mine recommended it, and he also was successful in his job search. Your podcast tips and chats with guests helped me prepare for my job interview. My new position is a gateway to the organization and will allow me to grow as a professional. Thank you for the incredible work you do! We listened to your episodes and assimilated all the learnings." - Listener from New Zealand.

207. Modernizing Job Applications: Leveraging AI, LinkedIn, and Exp...

206. Strategies for Managing Career Transitions

205. Unlocking SME Career Opportunities: Navigating Small Business ...

204. How to become a gig executive: An interview with Werkling foun...

Don't miss my weekly newsletter! 

Every Tuesday, I'll send you the latest episode of The Job Hunting Podcast, as well as a curated list of news and articles. This way, you will have the best collection of career tips and advice automated to your inbox. You can now focus on assimilating the best content rather than searching for it. And have time to enjoy your life as well!


"I wanted to pass on the news that I start my new role on Monday - and to thank you for the great resources and inspiration you provided, which I found so helpful." - Kate, newsletter subscriber.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.