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Getting laid off can put stresses on your finances and mental wellbeing. Read on for tips on what to do when you're laid off and how to find your next job.
Were you recently laid off from work? While this experience can feel isolating, you aren't alone. In fact, research shows that around 1.4 million people are laid off monthly in the U.S.
Despite the solidarity, the reality is that losing your job can be devastating. When you no longer have that financial safety net, you may wonder how you can afford expenses, provide for your family, and maintain your own mental health in the process.
While the road stretched out before you might feel long and winding, it's also ripe with potential and possibility. Today, we're sharing a few tips to help you get through these next steps and reclaim your direction. We'll also discuss some ways to re-route and find your next job so you can get back on your feet as quickly as possible.
In many ways, getting laid off can feel like a personal attack. You may wonder what you did to deserve this treatment, or why the company chose your position to eliminate.
Before you take another step and especially before you jump back into job-hunting, take the time to reframe your mindset. Despite the circumstances surrounding your layoff, remind yourself that this move was not a reflection of your skillset.
You have strengths and capabilities. You are intelligent. You are capable of finding a new job or even shifting your career focus altogether if you choose to.
Your mental fortitude will matter greatly during these next few weeks and months. If you go into a job search feeling dejected and unworthy, it will show in your interview and all subsequent communication. Still, we know it's hard to get out of a negative headspace.
If you find yourself stuck in a mental rut, seek out activities and pastimes that you enjoy. Look at this layoff as an opportunity to engage in the things that bring you joy, without the stress of work getting in the way. That might be exercising, painting, meditating, or simply listening to relaxing music that uplifts you.
When you invest in yourself like this, you'll be ready to tackle the job hunt with renewed clarity, strength, and optimism. That kind of outlook attracts opportunities, so don't feel guilty about prioritizing self-care at this time.
If your job was eliminated for reasons outside of your control, such as a corporate restructuring, company merger, buyout, or relocation, you should have received a Laid-Off Letter from the Human Resources (HR) department in your farewell package. This letter will contain details that explain the reasoning behind the layoff.
Why is it necessary? Not only can it provide you with the clarity you need to move on and move forward, but it can also be beneficial for any prospective employers. Upon reviewing the letter, they'll learn the details that led to the layoff, and they'll know for certain you weren't terminated for your performance.
Read the letter carefully and make sure that all of the information is correct. If you need a revision or edit, don't hesitate to ask for it. The letter can be a valuable part of your job hunt, and it needs to be 100% accurate.
Before you start finding a new job, ask your employer how you will receive your final paycheck. In addition to this check, you could also be eligible for severance pay. Some companies will provide this as a one-time payment while others may space it out into multiple payments over the next few weeks or months.
While this can be a perk, understand that the Fair Labor Standards Act doesn't require an employer to offer severance benefits. While this may or may not be available to you, it's always a good idea to ask.
If your employer doesn't offer a severance package, there are still ways to preserve your finances as you seek new work. One option is to apply for unemployment benefits. To do so, you'll need to file a claim with the unemployment insurance program in the state where your former job was located.
Each state will have its own guidelines and regulations. If you have questions about how the program works where you live, you can check with the U.S. Department of Labor.
Getting laid off may also mean losing your company-issued health insurance benefits. If this is the case, there are a few ways you may be able to keep your policy.
One option is to apply for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) insurance, which allows you to stay on your employer’s plan for up to 18 months. While this can be a viable solution, the caveat is that your employer will usually stop paying its side of the premium. This means your monthly premiums could be much higher than you're used to paying.
To save money, you could look into a government healthcare plan, or opt for a private plan that carries a high deductible. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you can shop for individual healthcare plans on state and federal exchanges. With your income significantly lowered after a layoff, you could qualify for a substantial subsidy to make the plan more affordable.
If it isn't open enrollment time, don't worry. Most policies make exceptions for unforeseen life events, such as layoffs, and allow individuals to apply mid-year.
Did you have a retirement plan with your former employer? If so, there are a few options to consider.
First, you may be able to leave the money right where it is. Some employers will allow laid-off workers to do this, especially if the account has more than $5,000 in it.
Second, think about rolling it into your next employer's 401(k) plan. You may have the option to consolidate your old plan with your new one, once it becomes available. If this is possible, it allows you to get your retirement savings back under one account without paying any tax penalties.
Finally, you may also choose to put the money into a rollover individual retirement account, or IRA. There are many IRA investment options to choose from, including:
Real estate investment trusts
Lifecycle fund (based on your target retirement date)
While you can technically cash out this account, it isn't an option we recommend. Doing so could do serious damage to your retirement plan, and you'll also be required to pay a major premium for accessing the money now. In addition to a 10% penalty for early withdrawal, you'll also be hit with federal income taxes on the lump sum, as well as state and local income taxes (in most cases).
While you're laid off, this is a good time to re-think how much money you're spending each month. Hopefully, you already have an emergency account with at least three to six months' worth of savings built up. This can prevent you from falling behind on major, essential expenses such as your rent (or mortgage) and utilities.
As you start saving more intently, resist the urge to completely slash all non-essential expenses, such as your television subscriptions and gym passes.
While these might seem too indulgent during these tight times, they can also contribute greatly to your mental health and overall well-being. Instead of cutting them out completely, look for ways to cut back where possible. This might mean reducing your gym membership to a lower-tier plan or cutting certain streaming platforms from your TV plan.
Not sure where to start? Use a free online budgeting app to help you track each dollar you spend. Then, look for areas you can adjust.
In addition to saving money, you can also look for easy ways to earn a little extra side cash. At ProductReviewJobs, we can connect you with opportunities to participate in paid survey opportunities, product tests, focus groups, and paid clinical trial opportunities. Join our newsletter today to stay informed and get involved!
While these benefits can help you stay afloat after you lose your job, you can't live on unemployment or severance pay for too long, especially if you have a household to take care of.
Before long, it will be time to think about how to find a new job. While there will be plenty of time to search the job boards and tweak your resume, the first step is to understand exactly what you want to do.
Use this time to truly consider your next step. Do you want to dive right back into the industry you just left? Or, are you ready to finally take that leap and try something new?
This could be your chance to lean into a career you've always wanted to try. If you're not sure where that direction lies or you want more insight into your talents, vision, and passion, take an online quiz! Here's a quick list of free career aptitude and assessment tests you can take right from the comfort of your own home.
Tests like these can reveal your inner strengths and interests to you. You may even discover ideas that you never considered until now! Write down a personal mission statement that defines what you're looking for and hope to achieve.
Regardless of which industry you want to join, start by making a short list of people you can reach out to during this time. These might be former bosses, co-workers, or schoolmates with whom you've formed a solid working relationship. They should be people who know your work ethic and can speak to your skills.
Ask if they know of any job openings in the field you're eyeing. Even if they don't, they can put your name on their radar and keep you in mind if something comes up. Don't hesitate to be bold but respectful with your request, but make sure the person you're talking to is in a good spot career-wise.
If they're struggling to find work themselves, they may not have the energy or bandwidth to support your job search, as well as their own. If you strike out with your immediate circle, use platforms like LinkedIn to expand your network search even more. Though today's workforce is more skilled than ever, around 85% of all jobs are still filled through personal and professional connections.
Especially if you were in your former career for a long time, it might have been years since you've given your resume and cover letter a once-over.
Though this step can be tedious, it's essential. Take some time and review these two documents, line by line. If you've added new skills, job roles, or companies since the last time you updated it, add that information now.
Though some companies are doing away with these requirements and relying on digital data, such as LinkedIn profiles, to find applicants, it's still helpful to have them ready upon request.
As you reach out to your connections and scan online job boards for full-time opportunities, it can be advantageous to take on a little side work in the meantime.
Many companies regularly update their job listings with short-term or temporary positions. Set up an alert and check these sites often to be among the first to know when new openings are posted. Beyond the digital realm, you can also reach out to some of the local businesses you know and frequently visit.
You may be surprised to find how many companies need extra employees during their busy times, such as tax season or the holiday rush. If your skill set matches their needs, you can find interim work to get you and your family through financially. Who knows -- it could even turn into a full-time opportunity if the fit is right!
When you know the steps to take and resources to access, getting laid off could be the first step toward an exciting, freeing new journey.
Before you dive back into the job hunt, take time to look inward and restructure your mindset. Then, you'll be ready to tackle the next phase with confidence. In the meantime, remember to join our newsletter to stay up-to-date on all the ways you can earn money online!
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