If you were laid off, your first thought might have been, “How am I going to make money?” or “How will I pay my bills?”
And while finding a new job is ideal, this can take a few months, and you may need other sources of income in the short-term.
To help with this, we researched 11 simple and effective ways to make money while being laid off or while unemployed.
These are safe, legal ways to earn extra cash while job searching, and most of these can be done by anyone.
One of the first things that you should do after getting laid off is file for unemployment benefits in your state (if you’re American).
While this isn’t going to be as much money as you were earning in your job before the layoff, it’s still going to be very helpful for paying bills, grocery costs, and more.
The US Department of Labor website has more info on how to file for unemployment after being laid off at work.
Note that in some states, you are not eligible to collect unemployment if you are working (including working via some of the part-time ideas below). So before starting anything on this list below, research your state’s guidelines.
Your employer may also offer a severance package after a layoff. This is a one-time payment made by employers when you lose your job… typically during layoffs or restructuring. Not every employer offers this, but it can’t hurt to ask.
Severance pay is not required by law, and the amount of money you receive will vary depending on your tenure with the company and the salary you were earning.
Just like when you accept a job offer, you should carefully read and consider the written material before making a final decision, too. It’s acceptable (and recommended) to take their offer home and spend a night thinking before deciding how to respond.
Their agreement will typically require you to sign and give up certain rights in exchange for the payment package (for example, it may include a non-compete agreement) so it’s important to review everything.
Next, you can take the skills that you were using in your full-time job and try to apply them as a freelancer. I did this myself in the past.
First, I found a few resume writing and career coaching clients after I left my job as a recruiter.
Then, I started a whole new career as a freelancer – I went from recruiting and career-related work to doing freelance digital marketing.
I started out by learning the basic skills via a few online digital marketing courses and on YouTube. LinkedIn Learning is another great option to build new skills (it just didn’t exist back when I was making my transition).
After learning the basics, I then got my first marketing clients through the freelance website Upwork.
While I’d say that Upwork has become more competitive and has gone downhill for freelancers since I used it (in terms of fees, policies, and more), it’s still the biggest and best in the business.
However, one method is still better than this. If you have connections or a network in your industry, reach out to them and try to network your way into some freelance work. Just make sure you’re not violating a non-compete agreement with your past employer.
If you don’t want to do freelance work, you could also look for a temporary/contract job. You could do this through a temp agency or a staffing agency that focuses on contract positions. There are recruiters who do nothing but fill temp jobs, so that’s who you should speak with.
This type of work will feel a lot more like a regular full-time job, whereas with freelancing, you’ll need to juggle multiple clients, sell your services, and deal with rises and falls in income.
This way, you won’t have to juggle multiple clients, and you’ll be paid on a regular schedule. The big difference between this and a permanent position is that you’re on a predetermined contract which is often three months, six months, etc.
Also, contract employees typically don’t receive health insurance or other benefits, so make sure you’re getting higher pay to make up for it. It’s normal to earn 15%-25% more as a contractor than as a full-time employee doing the same work, and this is why.
If you’re looking for a more short-term solution that’s faster and easier to get into, then you may want to consider babysitting as a way to make money after being laid off.
This is a way that someone from any background or with any skill set can earn money while unemployed.
It also provides great flexibility. Babysitting usually only involves a few hours in the evening, and you can typically choose which days you’re available to work, which means you can still focus on your job search as well.
Watching pets or houses for people who are out of town is another option to earn money after a layoff.
Many people need someone to look after their dogs or other pets while they’re away, and some people like to have someone stay in their home, too.
HouseSitter.com is one website with this type of job listing. And the personal finance site The Penny Hoarder also has a great article on how to find house sitting jobs that pay. (Some of these jobs don’t pay, apparently, and the compensation is that you’re able to stay in the house for free. But some jobs will pay cash, too).
The next way to make money if you were laid off is to rent a room in your own house or apartment. Whether you’ve got a large house or just a small spare room in your condo, you can earn hundreds of dollars a month by putting it up for rent.
You could choose to do this via Airbnb, or by listing it as a more traditional rental on sites like craigslist.com.
If you think you’ll find a full-time job again soon and you don’t want to continue renting out a room after that point, then it’s best to offer a short term rental so that you’re not locked into the arrangement for many months.
If you own a vehicle, you could sign up for a ride-sharing app like Uber or Lyft as a way to earn money after being laid off.
Just make sure you factor in the cost of gas and the maintenance of your car when assessing if this is profitable for you. Many Uber and Lyft drivers don’t realize how little they’re making because they don’t ever sit down and consider the expenses.
However, in some cities, the income will greatly outweigh the costs of operating your vehicle, and it can be a great way to make money. So it’s worth trying if you have a vehicle and want to make money after getting laid off.
Many countries have students and young professionals who are eager to learn English… and willing to pay you for the opportunity.
You could build out your teaching practice individually, or…
There are also large English-teaching websites that connect teachers and students and take a cut. This is an option if you don’t want to find your own students individually and manage every aspect of this business.
Another way to make money after being laid off is by selling what you already have. You know that fancy, new bicycle that you bought but never used? Now could be a great time to list it online and sell it (via craigslist.com, Facebook Marketplace, etc.)
Most people have a lot of unused objects cluttering their house, so it’s worth taking a look around to see what you’re no longer using. This could be exercise equipment, video game systems, TVs, outdoor toys, clothing, jewelry, artwork, and more.
All of this can help you earn cash to cover your expenses after a layoff, without having to spend much time. It’s not as sustainable in the long-term as some options above, but it could be a great option if you’re confident you’ll find another job in 2-3 months, and just need a bit of spending money in the meantime.
Making money after a layoff is only half the battle – the whole point of this is to cover your expenses, right? So you can also attack the situation by reducing expenses!
So if you just lost your job or are out of work, you may need to cook more meals at home and skip the restaurant. Or avoid putting anything on your credit card until you find a new job.
All of this will reduce your financial pressure and obligations, so you can keep yourself feeling positive after a layoff and focus on your job search.
If you were laid off or are unemployed, you now know how to make money (and how to save money). By using the ideas above, you can stay on top of your bills and expenses while looking for your next position!
Make sure to focus on your job search, too, though. I recommend you dedicate at least two hours per day to looking for work and trying to replace the job you lost in the layoff.
Managing your personal finances and trying to make spare money is one side of the battle, but the sooner you can replace the job you lost, the better.
To help you further, here are a couple of useful resources for finding jobs:
Biron Clark is a former executive recruiter who has worked individually with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
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