Know your rights, regain your confidence and find your next gig fast
Losing a job can be a pretty traumatic event. The emotional aspects of a layoff alone can be enough to throw off your self confidence, make you feel ashamed, delay your job search and impact your relationships. If you are like most people, you are living pretty much paycheck to paycheck so the first thing on your mind is trying to figure out how you are going to pay your bills.
What to do First
1. Slash your bills. Cancel your cable, your lawn service, the extra phone line, the gym membership, the Netflix account. Whatever it takes to immediately reduce your expenses. Don’t cancel your cell phone or land line if it’s your only means of phone service, as you’ll obviously need it to get a new job. All these things you’ll be able to sign up for again after you recover from your layoff, but you may also find that you can live without many of them, even after you find a new job.
2. Call your creditors. Letting them know ahead of time that you were laid off will help you negotiate a more affordable payment plan or even a settlement down the road. Some creditors may even give you a grace period of no payments.
3. Stop spending money. Stop eating out. No new clothes. Cancel the vacation. Don’t buy anything unless it’s critical to your survival. If it takes you longer than you thought to find a new job (and it usually does), your credit card debt will become unmanageable and hurt you in the long run. Controlling spending is one of the toughest things to do, but remember that you will recover and you can start doing these things again at some future point, just not now.
4. Try to avoid using credit. Most people will turn to their credit cards immediately after a layoff, but try to use up savings first. It’s tempting to keep that money in the bank, but borrowing money at high interest rates as way to bridge the gap between jobs is a risky and can hurt you in the long run. It’s better to borrow money from friends and family first, even though your pride may take a hit.
5. Apply for unemployment benefits. Filing for unemployment is pretty easy these days – just go online to your state’s website and follow the procedures listed. If you don’t know your state’s process, go to www.dol.gov for information on your state and your eligibility.
Know Your Employee Rights
This one is often overlooked by laid off workers. You probably received some information at the time of your layoff regarding your rights as a laid off employee. Look carefully at how much severance pay you will receive, earned vacation time paid, overtime paid, etc. Some companies will try to conveniently not pay you for these, especially if they are no spelled out specifically anywhere in your employee handbook, or in and employment agreement. But just because they aren’t spelled out, doesn’t mean that you aren’t entitled to them, because you might be working under an implied contract.
You also have employee rights that can guard against wrongful termination and illegal firing by discrimination. You may also qualify for protection under the WARN ACT, which requires employers to notify workers up to 60 days in advance of a mass layoff, and entitle you to full pay and benefits during that period even if you aren’t required to work through it.
For more information check out this resource on your rights as an employee.
Stress from a layoff can seriously affect your health and your mental state. Here are a few tips on how to handle the stress of losing your job:
1. Get into a Routine. Put together a schedule for yourself consisting of job searching, exercise, and making contacts.
2. Exercise. Physical activity reduces stress and clears your mind.
3. Take care of yourself. Know that it’s normal to be stressed and exhausted, but understand that it won’t last forever. You will be employed again.
4. Get some professional help if you need it. If you start feeling extended periods of depression or anxiety and are withdrawing from friends or family, see a professional. It’s normal, and they can help.
Look on the Bright Side
I’ve heard many people say that getting laid off is the best thing that could have happened to them. Most of these people either: 1) decided to follow their passion and do something they’ve always wanted to do, or 2) found a higher paying job or switched careers entirely. A layoff can be just what you needed to force you out of that rat race, (a better term is rat trap) into a more satisfying life.
Check out these resources to help you get through this period in your life:
Laid Off Now What?!? is an in-depth look at what to do after a layoff. Laid Off Now What Covers Dealing With The Psychological As Well As Financial And Job Seeking Strategies Necessary To Succeed During A Recession Or Depression. Regain Your Life, Survive Unemployment And Nail That New Job Fast.