Job security makes a person have an extra bounce in their step and knowing that your source of income is stable relieves a ton of stress from the average life. In reality, there is no job that is 100% stable. The economy waxes and wanes, trends change, and people move on. No matter how secure you feel in your current position, you should have a contingency plan in case you get laid off.
12 Things to Do When You Are Laid Off
- Set Up an Emergency Fund: If you haven't started an emergency fund, start today. You may not have the ability to save 3-months of expenses right away, but planning for emergencies is the first step in avoiding financial disaster when one occurs. Having even one month of expenses saved in a separate account can help immensely when faced with a layoff. Not only will it help you to pay monthly utilities or rent, but it can also help any unexpected expenses that could happen alongside the layoff.
- Keep Resume Up-to-Date: Your resume should always be up-to-date. Don't have a resume? Start working on a resume today. Creating a list of marketable skills and an employment history can be difficult, and you'll miss things if you are rushed. Updating your resume every six months ensures that it is complete when and if you need it.
- Check Your Benefits: Upon notification of a layoff, check with your human resources (HR) department. Find out if you have any benefits that can be cashed in. Unused vacation time, sick leave, or pension benefits may be available.
- Negotiate a Severance Package: Many companies will offer a severance package upon layoff, and these typically provide 2 weeks off pay or more to help reduce the burden of unemployment. It may sound stressful, but you can negotiate with your employer. It never hurts to ask, and many employers feel good about helping employees during a layoff.
- Get a Letter of Recommendation: One thing that will help you in your future job search is a letter of recommendation that includes the fact that you were part of a general layoff and not fired. Get this as soon as possible, so your employer can remember the details about your positive work attributes. If you wait for months, it may be difficult to remember the specifics.
- Maintain Health Insurance: With COBRA, you can continue your employer-provided insurance coverage, but you'll end up paying for it. This is not your only option, and you may be eligible for Medicaid or other affordable options.
- Apply For Unemployment: You should apply for unemployment as soon as possible after being laid off. There may be a waiting period depending on your state or your severance package, but getting the ball rolling ASAP ensures that your unemployment benefits will not be stalled when your previous income ends.
- Talk to Creditors: Even if you maximize your benefits, you aren't likely to make the same income during your unemployment as you did when you were employed. This can reduce your savings quickly. Instead of paying all your bills as-usual, talk to your creditors, and see if they'll give you a break. Student loans have reduced or even eliminated payments for emergencies. Beware of these options, as they often end up adding to your overall debt. Consider them as needed though, as you don't want a layoff to ruin your credit.
- Social Services: Social services like food stamps and other services are available if you are worried you won't be able to sustain your home and family during your lay off. Visit your Department of Human Services to find out what's available and if you are eligible.
- Budget: It is time to re-evaluate your budget when you are dealing with a layoff. Stop buying your morning coffee from the coffee shop and start using coupons at the grocery store. If you haven't cancelled television subscriptions, do it. You'll only end up sitting at home when you should be out there getting back on your feet.
- Network: It can be tempting to hole up in your home and wallow in despair during a layoff. This is not the productive way to handle this time. Instead, consider your layoff an opportunity to pursue your dream career. Get out there and talk to people. Find out what opportunities are waiting for you, and you'll probably end up better off than you were before you were laid off.
- Manage Stress: Don't forget to take care of yourself during your layoff. This is not the time to overindulge in vices that will only end up harming your mind and your future. Instead, keep exercising, eat right, and participate in stress-reducing activities like meditation. If you can keep your mind clear from all the negativity that will want to thrive during this time, you'll find yourself back to having a prosperous lifestyle before you know it.
Especially if you are blindsided by a layoff, it can feel like the end of the world. Whether or not you support a family can have added consequences. There is nothing you can do to prevent layoffs in most circumstances, so the best thing to do is be prepared. With the proper planning, a layoff can turn into a positive life change.
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