6 things you should do immediately after you've been laid off

The traumatic experience of getting laid off can affect a professional at any point in their career. Once the shock wears off, the main concern is always landing a new job.

However, having a good plan in place can help you quickly find a new job, says Elaine Varelas, managing partner at career transition and leadership development firm Keystone Partners.

Varelas tells CNBC Make It the six things you should do immediately after you're laid off:

1. Do nothing

This may sound counterintuitive but it gives you a chance to reflect and absorb all the information that your company is giving you.

There will be quite a bit of legal information that will be handed to you so it's important to focus on understanding "what's being offered and support packages," she says. "Understand your severance and career continuation."

She adds that although being laid off is tough it's important that "you don't overreact" and you "contain your emotions."

2. Ask for recommendations

Most companies don't use written recommendations any longer, says Varelas, so specifically ask your current colleagues and manager for a LinkedIn recommendation. "Let them know the specific skill sets you'd like them to speak out," and which skills you want to highlight for your next job, she says.

Also ask your manager if he or she can be a "great reference, not just a reference," says Varelas. "You need someone who will be an advocate and who is willing to sell your skill set."

If your manager can't agree to be a great reference then say thank you and move on to someone else, Varelas says. She adds that you should always "ask for more references than you'll actually need."

3. Tap into your network

Varelas says that although online networking is becoming popular, face-to-face networking still reigns supreme. However, she says LinkedIn is great for making that first connection.

When using LinkedIn, Varelas suggests connecting with a diverse group of people as well as employees with senior and junior level roles.

If you're seeking a job at a company or want to connect with someone who you don't know well, ask for an introduction through someone you do know, says Varelas. If that's not possible then introduce yourself through a commonality, such as a shared alma mater.

 

4. Clean up your social media

Employers will be searching for you. How you present yourself online says a great deal about you, says Varelas. "Are you tagged in pictures that only show you in bars?" That could make you look like a party person, she says. Varelas suggests that you either delete posts and pictures that don't reflect well of you or you make all of your social media private.

She also advises that you pay attention to who you follow because that's also very revealing. If you follow just the Yankees and Red Sox and no serious businesses that says something about you, says Varelas. "If you follow controversial figures that says something else about you."

 

5. Develop a plan of action

You now have an unfilled 40 hours per week, says Varelas, so make use of it. Develop a plan of action for how you're going to split up your time in order to score a new job.

"You can dedicate 20 hours per week just to networking," she says. "Maybe dedicate 20 percent of your time to job boards...and another 20 percent to research placement agencies."

Although Varelas says it's important to not waste those empty 40 hours, you should also be able to turn off the job search. She suggests doing things like volunteering or gardening--anything that helps you to really take a moment to be reflective.

"Dedicate yourself to something else to make you a well-rounded person," she says.

6. Practice answering this interview question

You will be asked why you left your previous job so it's "vital that you practice," says Varelas. "Discuss the business reason for the layoff."

She gives this example: "I work in retail and as you know the industry is suffering. My position along with 30 others were removed."

From there, she says, mention that you enjoyed the work you were doing at the previous company and say that there are similarities that brought you to this new company.

Most importantly, says Varelas, do not speak negatively about your previous place of employment.

"You cannot badmouth the company at all," she says. "There's nothing to be gained. If you must speak about it then keep it to your closest friends and family."