Q: Unfortunately, I’ve just lost my job and don’t know what to do next. As soon as my compensation check runs out, I’ll have no income. I’ve been laid off – now what?
A: Being let go can be devastating and unsettling. The job you’ve depended on for daily structure and livelihood is now gone. You’re understandably dealing with overwhelm, stress and confusion (and, possibly, some other emotions). As your credit union, we are here to help! Here, we’ve outlined the steps to take when facing a layoff, as well as various tips and advice that can guide you through challenging times like this.
Take time to process and reflect
It’s important to take the time to process the shocking development before moving forward.
First, remember that being laid off is not the same as being fired. Getting laid off means you lost your job because your employer can no longer afford to pay you or no longer needs your services. It’s through no fault of your own that you are currently not employed. In fact, if circumstances change, you may even be offered your job back.
Next, take the time to process, and even grieve, the layoff. While you may not be at fault, the job was likely a big part of your life that is now being taken away. In addition to financial security, you’re losing the sense of purpose, fulfillment and social life that came along with your job. It’s a big change, and it’s OK to spend some time just letting it all sink in.
Finally, reflect on the experience and what it means for your career and future employment goals. You may just find that the layoff isn’t all bad after all.
Talk to your former employer
Your ex-boss may be the last person you want to talk to right now, but it’s important to have this conversation so you can receive as many layoff benefits as possible. Ask for clarity on the layoff, in addition to the following questions:
- When can I expect to receive my last paycheck?
- Will I be compensated for my unused paid time off and/or sick leave?
- Will I be receiving severance pay?
- What will happen to my 401(k)/pension plan?
- Will I have health insurance coverage after my last day of work?
- Can I count on you to provide a positive reference for me and/or endorse me on LinkedIn?
- Can you provide me with copies of my performance reviews?
Assess your finances and create a budget
Evaluate your financial situation and assess your immediate and long-term financial needs. Calculate your expenses and determine how long your savings can sustain you. Create a budget that aligns with your current circumstances, prioritizing essential expenses and cutting back on non-essentials for the time being. Consider reaching out to financial advisors or experts for guidance on managing your finances during what will hopefully be a short transitional period.
Polish your resume and enhance your skill set
It’s a good idea to update and polish your resume before diving back into the workforce. Make sure the document reflects your most recent work experience and accomplishments and highlights your most relevant skills.
You can also take advantage of this work-free time to broaden your skills and acquire additional training. You can enroll in online courses, in-person workshops or obtain advanced certification in your field. Taking steps toward improving your game at work will significantly boost your marketability and make you stand out to potential employers.
Network and leverage online platforms
The more people who know about your job hunt, the better. Attend networking events, both in-person and virtual, to connect with industry professionals and potential employers. Utilize online platforms, like LinkedIn, to expand your network and showcase your expertise. Engage in industry-related discussions, join relevant groups and seek out mentorship opportunities.
Explore alternative employment options
While seeking full-time employment, consider alternative options to stay financially stable. Freelancing, consulting or taking on temporary or contract work can provide income while keeping your skills sharp. Explore the gig economy and online platforms that offer flexible work arrangements. Additionally, entrepreneurship or starting a side business could be an opportunity to pursue your passion and create your own path. Be open to exploring different avenues, as these alternatives can offer valuable experience and potentially lead to unexpected career paths.
Getting laid off is never fun, but with these proactive steps, you can make the time between jobs stress-free and productive. Best of luck in your new job search!