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Laid off? Here’s What You Can Do for a Better Today

what to do when you get laid off

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Statistics in the Trading Economics Website show that there were 538,659 job cuts announced by US-based employers in 2018. This was 28.6 percent higher than the 418,770 announced in 2017 and was the highest annual of total layoffs since 598,510 cuts were announced in 2015, and the second-highest in the second decade of the new century.

Be that as it may, these job losses were just a fraction of the total number of separations. Overall, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the total number of job losses in America has been on a sharp rise since the end of the financial downturn of 2008/2009.

If you got laid off or dismissed in 2018, it sucks and it’s hard. But, as the longtime leadership coach, Victor Lipman – who experienced being laid off firsthand – says, “get a grip, we are in the era of “mega layoffs.” Anyone can get laid off in this jungle and every dog has to look out for its own survival.”

Pretty tough, right!

So, don’t take it personally and certainly don’t dwell in destructive thoughts of “I didn’t deserve it,” or “I’ll get even.”

Read more: Top 10 Recession Proof Jobs in 2018

As you’ve seen, last year there were more than half a million Americans who boarded the “laid-off boat.” If you are wondering what to do when you get laid off? Here’s a tip. The sooner you lose those guilty feelings and misplaced thoughts, the sooner you’ll get back on your feet.

Here are more tips on what you can do for a better 2019.

1. First, Ensure That There’s Closure

  • Confirm if You’re Entitled to a Severance Package

Many people don’t know that employers are often ready to give ex-employees a severance package upon termination of employment.

This is a “soft cushion landing” that employers prepare for laid-off workers usually based on length of service and hierarchy as at the time of departure. However, it is not required by law, but it’s a common practice by many employers extend as part of their in-house policies.

So, don’t get lost on what to do when you are laid off. Check with HR if you are entitled to some severance pay and benefits and you can also negotiate your “send-off package.”

  • Collect Your Final Paycheck

After, you have confirmed and negotiated the severance package, ensure that you mark on your calendar the date you expect to receive your last paycheck. Make note also of how it’ll be delivered to you.

Confirm that all payments due will be included in the check. You may be entitled to vacation, sick off, or overtime payments. Make sure you speak with an HR rep and get details on what is included on your final paycheck.

  • Request for a laid-off Letter from HR

Now that you’ve been chatting with an HR rep, ask for a laid-off letter. If it was part of a larger, general layoff plan, then request that this is specified in the letter.

However, if you were laid-off on performance grounds (or more accurately, fired), request for a “humane” letter. You may give the HR representative some ideas of what to include in the letter. For instance, they can frame the letter to indicate that “you were not a perfect match for the role.”

2. Take Care of Immediate Shocks and Unforeseen Emergencies

  • Check the Status of Your Health Insurance

Being laid off is stressful enough, you wouldn’t want to complicate things or further destabilize your finances by being unprepared for an unforeseen emergency.

Check on the status of your health insurance. Ask the HR rep about continuing in the group medical insurance coverage (that’s if you were under the employer’s group health insurance plan). Enquire about the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act or COBRA.

COBRA is legislation that entitles former employees and their families to continued coverage under group plans for a limited period. However, you are expected to make payment for the full premium.

If you are not satisfied with your former employer’s opinion, check with the state’s office or the Department of Labor office for more information and eligibility.

  • File for Unemployment Benefits

The state doesn’t just help you to protect against an unforeseen medical emergency, you can also file for Unemployment Benefits (UB).

Although qualification for UB is stringent and differs from state to state, the bottom line is right now it’s an important (a much needed) source of extra cash. And after all, you’ve been actively contributing to the economy and paying your taxes. Moreover, you don’t intend to be living off UB for the rest of your life. Just by reading this article you’ll be closer to getting back on your feet.

So, get over all the rumors and prejudices you’ve heard about or associate with UB and file for it. If you need help with the application, check with the state’s office and how you can qualify.

  • Put Away the Credit Cards

Have a reality check; you are not on a payroll, at least for a while. Therefore you cannot afford to use your credit cards as you did when you were receiving regular pay.

If you are wondering what to do with your credit cards now that you are laid off? Simply put them away.

Do not destroy them or keep them close. Keep them far away, make sure you pay the pending bills on time, and use the cards only when there’s an absolute need. For instance when there’s an urgent bill to settle from the dentist.

Keeping your credit card alive even when laid off enables you to maintain the credit history and even improve your score. Credit Sesame can help you check your credit report, credit score and give you tips on how to improve the score even during a downturn.

  • Prioritize Your Bills and Reach out to Your Creditors

Still, on the issue of loans and routine bills, you can get in touch with your creditors and see what options they have. Of course, you’ll need to prioritize between your auto loan, credit card bill, medical bill, and mortgage. Nevertheless, don’t panic and certainly don’t forsake your responsibilities.

A chat with your creditors can reveal a lot that you didn’t know. For instance, many credit card companies have hardship programs that can aid you to defer bills, reduce interest, or permit minimum payments for a period. (Be warned though that at the expiry of these periods you’ll need to make full payment including interest.)

If you have several loans, you can reach out to Opploans for solutions on debt consolidation and payment plans that’ll suit your condition.

3. Then, Look into the Future

  • Get References and Prepare for Reference Checks

Speak with your immediate former superior and the HR representative for a good recommendation. (Especially if you were laid-off as part of a larger plan by the company). Ask your former employer how they will handle inquiries concerning the time you spent with them. If you had to part ways on performance grounds or you were fired, this is the part you eat the humble pie and make a polite request that they simply give out your dates of employment.

4. Begin the Job Hunt

  • Make Social Media work for you

Today’s technology and connectivity is an asset not just for businesses to grow, but people to grow beyond the traditional community. Use social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook to propel your job hunt.

LinkedIn is an amazing platform to explore professional networks, get in touch with numerous company executives and touch base with former colleagues. You can get critical recommendations and increase your chances of being hired through referrals.

Facebook is yet another platform which you can explore. The giant social space company didn’t openly advertise when they rolled out a jobs section in early 2017. ‘Jobs on Facebook’ opened up employment opportunities to more than 70 million businesses registered on the platform.

Also, because many employers are usually active on Facebook, you can leverage on this as an opportunity to ride on the visibility that Facebook accords you. Use the platform to demonstrate your aptitude and subtly solicit for appointments.

  • Start a Job Search and Prepare to Interview

Alternatively, you can do your job hunt the traditional way. That means you need to sharpen your resume, CV and cover letter writing skills and keep up to date with job opportunities as they are advertised. Monster is an excellent place to get job posts, potential employers and career advice.

Also, prepare for interviews and get ready to answer the inevitable question “why you were laid off from your previous job.”

If the job hunt takes longer, you may feel a little discouraged. But you can fight off those negative thoughts and feelings by joining a job search support group. Remember, in 2018, over half a million Americans were laid off.

To boost your job-search efforts, check out your local One-Stop Career Center for assistance and support

  • Learn a New Skill

Now that you have time on your hands, use it constructively to sharpen your skills and improve the odds of landing a job. You can take some time to learn a new skill, and unlike the olden days when you had to physically visit an institution, today you can learn new skills entirely online and at a fraction of the cost. Check out websites such as Udemy and learn more.

  • Make Money Part-time or Freelancing

Whereas, your ultimate goal is to land a full-time gig. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t make some cash on the side.

It may not be as much as you were earning before or as glamorous, but it’s a stepping stone and more importantly more dollars.

Get a part-time job or join the gig economy. Read this article and find out how you can start making cash by freelancing. Who knows, you may enjoy it so much that you’ll continue even after landing a full-time job.

  • Audit Your Emergency Fund and Retirement Fund

You’ve probably heard financial advisors speak about building an emergency fund. If you heeded the advice and wondering what to do when you get laid-off? Now is the time to call up such funds and use the cash sparingly. You can check out MoneySavingMom for tips on how to be frugal.

When using these funds, ensure that you make every buck count.

On the other hand, if you don’t have an emergency fund, you can consider making some withdrawals from your retirement funds. Depending on your plan, be sure you are aware of the tax implications of making such a withdrawal. Nevertheless, gunning for this stash should be a last resort.

5. Lastly, Be Positive

Being laid off may start out as a stressful and unpleasant time. However, if you maintain a positive attitude, you’ll see that it’s not such a bad thing.

It pushes you out of your comfort zone. And if that doesn’t kill you, it can only make you stronger. A layoff is a stepping stone to greater heights. All you need to do is keep things in perspective, count your blessings each day and forge ahead using the tips we have mentioned.


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