What to Do When You are Laid Off or Downsized?

Day Job

by Myrtis Smith

Getting downsized, right-sized, laid off or "let go" can be very difficult to handle. Here are five ideas to implement as soon as you learn you that you are losing your job:

1. Be angry......but only for 1 day (2 at the most). It is totally normal to feel angry or betrayed when you lose your job. The problem with anger, however, is that it is seldom productive. If you are spending a lot of energy being upset you can't focus on looking for a new job or be effective in an interview. Give yourself time to be angry, let that anger out, then move on.

2. Get a picture of your financial situation. The loss of income is undoubtedly the most difficult part to deal with during an unexpected job loss. This is especially frightening if you are the main bread winner of the family. As soon as you learn that your job is coming to an end prepare a financial statement. Write out all of your monthly expenses.

Have separate categories for necessities (like rent and groceries), nice to haves (like cable), and obligations (like credit cards). Know how much money you need every month to cover your necessities, be prepared to eliminate some nice-to-haves and inform lenders if you anticipate being unable to handle obligations. Being armed with this information will help alleviate some of the stress of the unknown. This financial picture can tell you how long you can live off of your savings or how much you need to bring in from a part time or temp job while you look for a new permanent job.

3. Apply for unemployment as soon as possible. As soon as you find out that you are losing your job, call your state's unemployment office to understand how the program works, how soon you can apply, and when your benefits go into effect. Some states have a waiting period and it may take 3 - 4 weeks for your claim to be processed.

4. Make your other talents known. Sometimes you will find a company that is laying off employees in one department while hiring new people in another department. This is due to a skill gap. A company can't just take an employee from Department A and move him into Department B if the employee doesn't have the skills to do that other job. But, if you are someone who does have those skills, either from a hobby, volunteer work, or education, you might be able to make a case for a transfer. This is a long shot, but you'll never know if you don't ask.

5. Think about what you really really really want to do next. If you are one of the "lucky" people who get advanced warning that your job is coming to an end (like an announcement that your office is closing in 6 months) don't hit the panic button and immediately go out to find another job. Instead use the time to "find" yourself. Read, evaluate your hobbies, investigate jobs that you think would be interesting. This way your next career move will be deliberate and planned, not a knee-jerk response.

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Author:©2002 All Rights Reserved. Myrtis Smith is a personal coach. Her mission is to help people create their preferred future and have fun doing it. Myrtis Smith may be contacted at http://www.premeditatedlife.com coaching@premeditatedlife.com.