At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we began to see massive layoffs and furloughs. The words layoff and furlough was seen across countless headlines. While we have been making progress over the past couple of months, the unemployment rate in September is 7.9%. To put in perspective, the U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 3.5% unemployment rate at the end of February. We are still more than double the number before the pandemic led to major shutdowns.

Losing a job is hard, we’ve heard clients sound defeated by the present moment and afraid of what the future holds. We understand all too well how mentally challenging the process of losing a job unexpectedly and finding another. Let’s clarify some confusions on what it means to be laid off versus furloughed and what actions you can take now. 

Laid off vs Furloughed

The biggest difference between getting laid off instead of furloughed is the former is usually permanent while the latter is intended to be temporary. When an employer furloughs employees, it is usually with the hope that they will return. Some employees are furloughed due to seasonal jobs, for example, jobs in the hospitality and retail industry. There is an understanding that employees will return during the next high-demand season. They are still technically employees, but they are not getting paid. What we have been seeing all across the country since March, are furloughs due to unexpected financial losses and circumstances – COVID-19 has surely brought both. Due to unforeseen closures of almost all businesses and the confusion over what was to come, companies began to furlough their employees, with the hope they would return when they could reopen and things got “back to normal.” 7 months later and it’s clear that 

PTO Benefits

There are certain benefits that are provided to the employee when they are laid off that are not offered when they are furloughed. 

The Department of Labor states, “if your employer furloughs you because it does not have enough work for you, you are not entitled to take paid sick leave or paid expanded family and medical leave.” Additionally, because you are still considered an employee when you are furloughed, you will not be paid out for unused paid time off (PTO). Paying out unused PTO varies by state and each company sets its own guidelines in regards to PTO according to state laws, or lack thereof. As an example, according to California law, “whenever a contract of employment….provides for paid vacations and an employee is terminated without having taken off his vested vacation time, all vested vacation shall be paid to him as wages at his final rate in accordance.” Again, if you are furloughed, you’re still technically an employee. There is also less paperwork for employers when they furlough an employee instead of layoff an employee. 

If you have been furloughed with no clear indication of when you will return, we highly recommend that you begin searching for a new job. Some companies will provide you with a timeline, but given the lack of clarity on what our future holds with COVID-19, employers do not have a timeline. Employees can move from furloughed to laid off as months pass and the uncertainty continues. While I will not call it a “pro” in any way, there is more clarity when you are laid off. There is no confusion, you are unemployed and it’s time to start looking. 

Next Steps

File for Unemployment

Whether you are laid off or furloughed you can file for unemployment. Each state has its own system in place for filing for unemployment. The early months of the shutdown caused an influx of individuals filing for unemployment and many states were struggling with the demand. While the process of getting unemployment may be frustrating, remain patient, and persistent. 

You can find your state’s unemployment webpage here. You can file your claim online, over the phone, or in-person if necessary. 

The information needed for your claim will vary by state, below is the list for Florida.

• Social Security number

• Driver’s License or State ID number

• Employment information for the last 18 months for each employer:

• FEIN number (this is found on your W2 or 1099 tax form), if available

• Employer name (name on pay stub), address, and phone number

• First and last day of work

• Gross earnings (before taxes are taken out) covering the last 18 months

• Reason for separation

Get clear on your target job

Has your entire industry been decimated? Were you unhappily employed anyway and now want to switch careers? Or maybe you loved your job and now get to find another one that is similar in nature? 

Either scenario is a hard position to be in, and it presents an opportunity for a new path. Get clear on your career interests and be open-minded.

Think about these questions:

What kind of job position do you want?

What are your talents and skills that contribute to tasks and responsibilities?

What are the kind of companies you want to work with?

Big company vs small company? 

Startup vs established company?

Where, geographically, are you willing to work?


According to PayScale, over 70% of people are in their current position due to networking. The wider you cast your net to find a job, the more opportunities you will come across. Take advantage of social media sites, especially LinkedIn to network. Actively put yourself on the market, make connections, and nurture them. Be clear about your target job, geographic area, and any other pertinent information. Do not reach out and vaguely say you are seeking a job opportunity in industry and attach your resume.

You may be surprised by how willing people are to connect you to a job posting or someone they know, which they can only do if they know you are looking for it!

While the process of finding a job is challenging, it is also challenging for hiring managers to find the right candidate. While you read job posting after job posting, there is a recruiter reading resume after resume. It costs money for a company to hire someone, and they want to make sure they hire the right person. Networking will increase your chances

Consult people in your personal and professional networks. These people will be able to help you understand what steps you need to take to understand the ins and outs of another field. 

You may also network with people and request an informational interview. As stated in Berkeley’s Career Center, “An informational interview is an informal conversation you can have with someone working in an area of interest to you. It is an effective research tool and is best done after preliminary online research.  It is not a job interview, and the objective is not to find job openings.” While this is not the objective, we have seen our clients receive an interview offer after an informational interview. Below is an example of a message for a career changer:

Hello Karina, 

My name is Nora Jones, and I am interested in switching career paths. I have extensive experience in the Hospitality industry and was drawn to your LinkedIn profile as it certainly proves you are a successful Healthcare Administrator for Silver Palms Medical Group. I would love to learn more about you and your career path to better understand your role and ensure I am going down the right path.

Would you be available for an informational interview? We can meet via zoom for a cup of coffee. Thank you in advance and I look forward to connecting with you. 



Never underestimate the power of flattery. People are often willing to help those who display complete respect for them. 

Build a “master” resume

Check out our blog on How to Write a Resume in 2020 to help get you started. The resume you share with employers should be one-page at most. However, your master resume will serve as an internal resource and will include all of your experience. Include every single project, job, volunteering opportunity, internship, etc. you did throughout your college years. This could exceed one-page and that’s okay, as I said, this is an internal resource. You will not share this with employers. 

Tailor your resume 

Now that you have your master resume, you can pull from this document to tailor your resumes for all jobs. Follow all the tips you got from How to Write a Resume blog. If you are sending the same resume to every employer, you are doing this wrong. The purpose of a resume is to get you an interview. There are plenty of resume rules, creating a resume that reflects how your experience is a match with what the company is looking for is essential. This is even more important for career changers because it not obvious as to how your experience is compatible with the role you are applying to.

This is incredibly important for your resume to make it to the lap of a hiring manager.  According to Jobscan, over 98% of Fortune 500 companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). “Rather than manually reviewing each resume, recruiters and hiring managers can search for resumes based on keywords, or have the system filter or automatically rank applicants.”

How to tailor your resume:

If you are not tailoring your resume to reflect how your experience directly matches their job posting, your resume will more than likely get filtered out and lost. This does not mean copy and pastes keywords from the job posting into your resume and think it’s complete. Be strategic, read the entire job posting, and create your resume from there. 

Make a copy of your master resume, delete all the bullet points and experiences that don’t relate to the job posting. Keep only the experience that is relevant and then adjust your bullet points to match keywords from the posting. 

Get help

We know this process is no walk in the park. You are not alone in this process, millions of people are unemployed. 2020 has been a year of trials and tribulations, blessings in disguise, and perseverance. It’s important to take action now and request support when needed. We’ve seen beautiful stories on LinkedIn of individuals thanking others for helping them find their next job. Consider getting a career coach. Prepory has a career coaching program called Sprout and it provides you with the tools, resources, knowledge, and unlimited accountability necessary for you to land your next job. You can schedule a free consultation with one of our career coaches below to learn more.