What To Do When You Get Laid Off

Layoff Notice
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Have you lost your job? If so, you're not alone. There are always companies that are cutting jobs or restructuring operations. It's a normal part of conducting business in today's economy. Prior to the actual news, rumors of downsizing often run rampant through an office so employees may be at least somewhat prepared for a layoff announcement. In other cases the news is a surprise - you're shocked, unpleasantly surprised, and not at all sure what do next.

What should you do when you receive notice of a layoff? What's the best way of surviving a layoff? First and foremost, you should check with your company on the benefits you may be entitled to when you leave. It's important to be informed about your employee rights, so you are clear on where you stand when you lose your job. Then, it's important to file for unemployment insurance and to make sure you have all the bases covered so that you can start a job search.

What To Do If You Are Laid-Off From Work

You may, however, be able to turn a layoff into a new career. Here's how to handle unemployment, start a job search, and more advice on what to do when you get laid-off.

Check Your Benefits

If you do have an inkling that there's going to be bad news be prepared to ask what benefits terminated employees are eligible for. If you've already been laid-off and haven't been informed about benefits, call the Human Resources department at your former employer or your manager to request information on the status of your benefits:

  • Ask about severance pay, accrued vacation, overtime and sick pay, pension benefits, and eligibility for unemployment insurance.
  • Severance packages may be negotiable. You have nothing to lose by asking for more than what's offered.
  • Request information on continuance of health and life insurance benefits. Your employer, if the firm has over 20 employees, is mandated by law to offer health insurance coverage through COBRA to terminated employees for at least 18 months. However, it is worth asking if you will be covered for a certain period of time at no cost to you.

Assess Your Goals

Refocus your energy and use this unexpected windfall of time as an opportunity to reassess your career goals and to get on track to find a new position. Many job seekers have turned a termination into a positive experience. A forced departure from a job has often opened a path to a new, more satisfying, and better paying career that wouldn't have been considered under other circumstances.

Start a Job Search

An important task for those unemployed, and for that matter, for all job seekers, is to plan your job search. Before you can implement the plan, however, you need to take care of the basics. The most important issue, in most cases, is income. Contact your state unemployment office as soon as you can to determine if you are eligible for unemployment benefits. If you can't make ends meet, and many of us can't, on an unemployment check consider freelancing or taking a temporary position to supplement unemployment.

Get Help

Don't be proud - your temporarily reduced circumstances may entitle you to food stamps or other government benefits. Remember you paid for those benefits out of every paycheck you earned. Your state's Social Services department can inform you what assistance you qualify for. If you are a member of a church, ask if there is any help available. Community organizations often have resources to help the unemployed with food baskets, donations, and babysitting assistance.

Community resources are also available to help with the mechanics of your job search. Many state employment services and public libraries have internet access as well as access to software and printers to produce your resume. They also may have counselors who can provide resume and cover letter writing and job search assistance.

Ten Steps to Find a New Job

Review these ten steps to take to find a new job, including where to look for jobs, the top job sites, how to use your connections, how to ace the interview, and how to follow up.