Getting laid off is rarely a positive experience, but it’s common in periods of economic uncertainty. Losing a job often leads to immediate stress. Stress impacts your health, which makes it difficult to focus on getting a new job. It can become a vicious cycle.
But losing your job is not the end of the world, and it can also lead to new experiences and opportunities that put you in a better place than if you had stayed with the company—especially if you were already considering changing career paths, going back to school, or monetizing a hobby. So let’s talk about what to do when Life Demands Space® after a layoff and a few tips to help make the days, weeks, or months after go smoothly.
Allow yourself time to process.
There’s nothing wrong with being upset after losing your job, but it’s also important not to panic. Depending on how much information your company gave you, you may know the reasons for the layoff, or it may remain a mystery. Either way, you should take stock of your feelings. You could be sad, anxious, scared, angry, and even relieved. And those are all valid emotions!
Write your feelings down on paper or vent to a trusted friend or family member. If that isn’t enough, you can always reach out to a therapist or counselor for support.
Take stock of your finances, but don’t wait to file for unemployment.
Some companies try to be generous, while others ask employees to leave with little more than a goodbye. If your company is one of the former, as part of your separation paperwork, they may provide severance payouts for unused vacation. This might even include a fraction of your monthly salary.
In many states, filing for unemployment benefits is a weeks-long process that can feel emotionally draining. Getting the ball rolling as quickly as possible is essential, especially if you have concerns about paying your bills. Some unemployment systems are still overwhelmed, so getting your information into the system can save you from a future headache. If you have questions about calculating unemployment benefits, visit your state’s website for more details.
If you have any ongoing subscriptions, hit that pause or cancel button (if possible). Make a quick budget that takes into account necessary expenses like your phone, internet, housing, and utility costs. If there’s a streaming service you haven’t used for a month or two, it should be first on your list of cancellations.
Find out as much as you can about your health insurance.
Your health insurance benefits are often one of the most vital parts of your job, so understanding how the layoff impacts them is necessary. Employers who lay off workers commonly cover health insurance through the end of the month. They will also provide information about COBRA, which allows you to continue your current health plan for the remaining term (but at full cost to you). You can also look into alternative health coverage options catered to your budget or needs, especially if you choose to become self-employed.
Figure out what you want your next job to look like.
One of the benefits of being laid off is the relative freedom to think about what you want for your next job. For example, what kind of employer, schedule, hours, and salary would make you happy? Would you prefer a fully remote position, hybrid, or one where office attendance is fully mandatory? Do you want a lower salary in exchange for more flexible time off? Knowing the answers to these questions is essential because they’ll be a segway into the interview process and the questions you may want to ask prospective employers.
Optimize your social media profiles and your resume.
After taking a moment to breathe, it’s time to start your job search, especially if you’re enrolled in unemployment benefits. Take a moment to look over your social media profiles, particularly professional ones like LinkedIn. Make sure there’s nothing you wouldn’t want a prospective employer to find, as many HR professionals and hiring managers review these. (Time to remove those embarrassing pictures your friends tagged you in.) A quick Google search of your name can’t hurt, either.
Once you’ve cleaned up your online presence, take some time to look over your resumé. Ensure everything is up-to-date (including your most recent position) and highlight relevant skills you want to showcase. A well-organized resumé is more likely to catch an employer’s eye, and there are hundreds of helpful templates if you need a redesign. If assigned an unemployment advisor, they may review your resumé and offer suggestions.
Consider downsizing or finding roommates.
You’re out of a job and don’t want to think about moving on top of it all. But there’s a possibility you may no longer be able to afford your current apartment or house. Depending on your situation, you may want to look at breaking your lease and moving to a smaller, more affordable place. If you’re a homeowner, it may make sense to seek out a roommate or two to help lower your housing costs. Note that some local ordinances may not permit unrelated people to live together, so follow all laws and regulations related to zoning in your neighborhood.
If you do need to downsize, don’t immediately rush to sell your belongings. After all, you may find a job and be back on your feet lickety-split! Instead, if you need to move to a smaller place or take on a roommate, renting an affordable storage unit at a nearby Prime Storage location may be helpful. Even a small storage unit can free up space and allow you to stay organized as you navigate this life change.
Use your network to your advantage. You know more people than you think.
Even if you’re doing most of your job searching online, networking is one of the best ways to find new opportunities. Follow the companies you want to work for and look for connections. A friend of a friend may be the resource you need to get your foot in the door! Sign up for webinars and use your time to maximize connections with others. Exchange information and, if possible, ask friends and people from your previous company for references.
Don’t get burnt out. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Despite the sense of urgency that comes from being laid off and needing to find work, give yourself time to enjoy life and pursue hobbies. The days of pounding the pavement and submitting paper application after paper application are no more. Online job applications have come a long way; many are now seamless or integrated with social media. It’s become so easy to apply with just the click of a button.
Dedicate a portion of your day to your job search and interviews, but there’s no shame in taking a break or doing something you enjoy. Finding yourself in this situation may be the perfect opportunity to recenter yourself or discover something new. Whether this is your first layoff or one of many, know that you are not the only person in this situation, and you won’t be the last. So take enjoyment where you can and give yourself space when life demands it.