Wednesday, January 20, 2010

10 Things to Do When You Get Laid Off

I was pondering this post earlier today after talking to a woman who will soon be laid off from her job. I was actually surprised to see her at a meeting today because I though her company was doing their layoffs last week. I asked her what her plans were and she had no idea. She asked if I had any ideas so I am working on a plan for her which will better package her skills and generate some income for her.
Then the spouse came home tonight with a layoff notice. Talk about hitting home. Fortunately for us, the spouse only works very part time earning "fun money" and enough to cover the groceries. The impact, however, of being laid off, was not wasted on both of us.
So while we will be reorganizing our budget a bit and working on some projects to keep the spouse busy and possibly replace some of the income that has been lost, I am a whole lot more concerned with the woman I spoke to today along with her co worker who is also slated to be laid off and the loss of their six figure incomes which will no doubt impact them and their families severely.

Here's ten things to do when you get laid off:

  1. See being laid off as an opportunity to make some much needed changes in your life. While most people will have a panic attack then a pity party, I have never, in my entire life, been fired or laid off without having an even better opportunity come along. In fact, that's how the spouse broke the news this evening..."you know how you always say that things happen for a reason..." This has always been my motto and painful things usually work out fairly well given time.
  2. Apply for unemployment. Pronto. You pay into the unemployment system with every paycheck deduction so you might as well make a withdrawal from the system when you need it.
  3. Give yourself a day to digest the situation then call a family meeting. There is no shame in losing your job. It happens to many people and with a current national unemployment rate hovering around 10%, one in ten people is currently experiencing this sort of situation. Announce to the family that you have lost your job then enlist everyone's help in dealing with the situation. The psychological impact of the main family breadwinner losing their job can be fairly substantial, however this is what family is for, to help YOU through a tough time just like you always help them.
  4. Next, take a look at the family budget. With everyone's input cut back as much as possible on non essentials and make other reasonable budget cuts. Review every single expense and look at ways to make cuts (can you switch to garbage service every other week instead of weekly? Is it a prudent idea to drop full coverage from you oldest car instead of carrying full coverage on it?) Through this group process, no one in the family will be surprised when eating out is suddenly cut to never and going to the mall doesn't come with a withdrawal from the bank of dad.
  5. After you have pared back the budget, it is time to make money to provide the funds to see you through this period of unemployment. Turn over every rock to do this--are you owed vacation pay, sick pay, or a severance package from your former job? Now that you don't have to go to work, scour the house from top to bottom both cleaning the house (a mood lifter) and gather stuff to sell via eBay, Craigslist, or a garage sale. You don't need to get rid of everything but most of us have plenty of junk laying around that we don't want/use/need. Also, pick up side jobs if possible. Check Craigslist for gigs. Pay attention--if a friend complains about their worn carpet and you can resurrect your college job carpet laying skills, offer to put in new carpet for a reasonable fee.
  6. Reevaluate your life. This might be tough to do when you have just lost your job and are verging on panic, but take this opportunity to decide what you want to do with your life. Do you want to find a job in the same industry you just go laid off from? Did you secretly hate your job and now have the opportunity to do something totally different? Do you want to try your hand at being self employed?
  7. Get active. Now that you have the time, exercise. It is a mood lifter, a definite bonus for your health, and it's free. Put on a pair of tennis shoes and get walking or jogging if you prefer. Pick a different route each day which may open up possibilities (ie: new work ideas or opportunities).
  8. Volunteer. As long as you aren't doing anything, you might as well make yourself useful. Find a volunteer gig or two in your community, doing something you enjoy. Many people have picked up additional job skills as well as made valuable contacts in the community by doing this.
  9. Make big decisions if needed. You may have to sell your house. You may need to move to another area where there is a market for your skills. You may need to get some scholarships together and go back to college (note I didn't say get into massive student loan debt to go back to college). You may need to cut off your freeloading adult children/various relatives you have been supporting when the money was flowing in.
  10. Make a plan. Will it be a full court press to market yourself to find a job similar to what you lost? If so, you need to polish your resume, call every person you have ever met to see if they can help you find a job, polish up your job skills, and start looking everywhere for a job. If you decide to start your own business, you will need a plan in order to launch your new venture. Going back to school? Stop by the college guidance office tomorrow and get an idea of what you need to do to get started.
Now here are five things NOT to do when you lose your job:
  1. Don't keep it a secret. People can't help you if they don't know you need help. I have heard of quite a few people who were so ashamed about losing their jobs that they pretend to go to work every morning just so the family and the neighbors wouldn't know what happened. Don't even start with this kind of charade.
  2. Don't go on vacation because you need the break. This is also a way that people deal with stressful situations but running away and running up your credit cards when you can least afford to do so is a really bad idea.
  3. Don't live on credit cards for months on end in order to keep the same standard of living that you have always had. If you have no income coming in, how will you pay off these credit card debts?? Better to ratchet back your spending to hardly nothing and even go to a food bank if you are hungry rather than going shopping with credit cards until they are maxed out--this will only shove you into a deeper depression when the creditors start calling.
  4. Don't give up. After the punch in the gut feeling that comes with being laid off, some people want to stay in bed and watch TV talk shows all day rather than face the world. While this is understandable, it isn't very practical. Get up, get moving, and get creative. The answer to your problems will not land on your door step, you need to go out, hunt it down, kill it, and drag it back home.
  5. Don't not accept a job because it is "beneath you." If you don't have a job, you need to get one. They say it is easier to find a job when you are employed so you might as well take any job you can find just to get some cash rolling in as you continue to look for a better job.
Well, that's about all I know about job loss, having been laid off a couple of times and fired more than that (seems I don't play well with others sometimes...). Maybe our readers have some more ideas...?


  1. As I am in the same boat (having been laid off in November)I agree with and am following your suggestions already. I would add that there are support groups, often for free by various religious groups that can give you a place to vent as well as make new connections. I go to one at the Episcopal Church I attend as well as one at the Jewish Family and Career center. Reach out to your community and expand it!

  2. 5.Don't not accept a job because it is "beneath you." - Actually there's good reason to reject jobs like this. Your unemployment check goes away, which can often be more than you'd make at McD's or Wally World. If you signed up for unemployment health care plan like COBRA, that goes away. If you take a new low $ job, and get laid off again, your unemployment check is now based off the low $ job. If you're working you have to pay taxes on your income, which doesn't happen with unemployment checks. If you have to work a crap job, that's less time to devote to finding a good job. I think I'm forgetting a few more, but the everything above is good reason alone.

  3. aaaaahhhh

    To know another language is great.

    I run out of unemployment benefits about 4 months ago.

    But last 2 years I was going to auto mechanics at city college.

    I now do repairs at home to a lot of Spanish speaking people, looking for the right price and not paying the minimun invoice or the astronomical dealership prices.

    My customers get a good price and I get a decent wage.

    Don't waste your time, do something before you get the pink. slip.

  4. Excellent comments.
    Anon--I hope you find a job soon. Reaching out to others is a good idea for a number of reasons--from getting job connections to getting moral support.
    BeenThere--Good points. You have to take the most financially opportune route for yourself. I have heard of people whose unemployment/insurance/etc run out and they still won't take a job that is beneath them even though they have no money at all coming in. Cash flow is the name of the game.
    Anon--Having an actual skill that the average person needs and will pay for cannot be over emphasized. Many people in the previous economy were highly paid paper pushers who didn't have seriously marketable skills, only niche skills that may or may not be needed. Being bilingual is also a good skill to have in our increasingly bilingual world.