Know How to React to a Layoff
Before it Happens to You
By Mikkie Mills
Becoming the target of a layoff always comes unexpectedly and it can result in a pretty extreme shock. Often, getting laid off leaves you feeling like you've just stepped off of a cliff and you're not sure which end is up. Instead of trying to react to everything at once, try following these suggestions and develop a course of action that can help you get back on your feet.
Dealing with the Sudden Lack of Income
The most devastating part of being laid off is that you're suddenly left without a source of income. Even though your emotions are in turmoil at this point, you will need to take a breath and try to think rationally about the coming weeks. First, you may need to arrange to pick up your last paycheck, unless your employer prefers to mail it to you. That will give you some cash flow and a small safety net.
Apply for Benefits
While you'll have that one last paycheck to count on, you should spend it only when necessary. Even if you file for unemployment immediately upon being laid off, which you definitely should do, it will take several weeks, before you receive that first check. You should also be prepared to receive only a fraction of your regular pay, so don't count on that for any length of time. Additionally, you should look into low cost, or free, healthcare programs, such as applying for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. At this early stage, there's no telling how long it will take you to get a new job and you want to make sure your family is covered.
Asking About References is Still Important
Even though you have been laid off, it may not have been the result of the quality of your work. Sometimes, economic times are just too rough. In any case, it can't hurt to ask your employer for a reference, or even outplacement for layoffs service. It will also be important to find out what your employers will say about you to prospective employers. In any case, you should stay in contact with your former co-workers and find out which ones will be willing to provide character references. Be sure to get their contact information, if you don't already have it.
Once you've taken care of immediate concerns, it's time to rebound. The first step in this process is to give careful thought to how you're going to explain the layoff. Prospective employers will judge you, based on how you describe the experience. The ideal response should be a brief and positive statement that doesn't dwell on your misfortunes. While you didn't ask to be laid off, future employers want to know that you're trying to turn it into a growing experience.
Your self-esteem is in a fragile state right now, so the last thing you need is to be surrounded by the criticism of family and friends. Even though they may mean well, their words can affect you. Ask them to be patient with you and to be supportive in encouraging you with your job search. If some individuals seem incapable of providing you with positive support, it may be better to distance yourself from them for the time being.
Looking to the Future
Now, you've reached the point at which you can really move forward and the possibilities are limitless. You may choose to look for a new job in the same career field and that's okay. However, many people view a layoff, or a termination, as an opportunity to move into a new career. It's never too late to go back to school to learn a new profession, or to supplement a degree you already possess. Whichever path you choose, look for ways to keep yourself motivated and maintain a positive mindset.
A layoff is an unsettling experience, but you can use it to take your life in a new direction. Your immediate concerns, of course, are taking care of finances to cover a brief period of unemployment, but, overall, you should be focusing on starting a new chapter in your life. This can be an opportunity to achieve new goals and build a better life for yourself.