Anyone following the news today has seen the growing number of layoffs of professionals, particularly in the tech sector. For younger people for whom this is the first time to go through this, it can be a discomforting and dispiriting experience, but layoffs can happen to anyone at any age. The pandemic has certainly exacerbated this as companies seek to reset themselves in a post-Covid economy. However job loss happens, it’s never fun because for many of us, our jobs are a part of our identity. In a dynamic economy, however, layoffs are a fact of life, and emotional issues aside, there are things you can do to minimize the fallout of losing your job.
Here are some tips that we recommend:
- Stay positive. It’s important to remember that the decision was probably based on the economy or other external factors.
- Be professional. If you handle yourself with decorum, your employer may be willing to serve as a reference, recommend you to vendors, and even provide assistance with interviewing and résumé building. Plus, if their economic situation continues to improve, who’s to say they won’t hire you back?
- Account for every penny. Review your terms of employment and claim any money owed to you from bonuses, commissions—even unused vacation. Also, find out if you are entitled to a severance package. If not, file for unemployment benefits right away since that claim may take weeks to process.
- Replace lost benefits. If your spouse works, see if you can add yourself to their healthcare plan. If not, or if you are single, you can apply for COBRA coverage within 60 days of termination and extend your health care benefits for 18 months. Similarly, you may want to purchase an affordable term life insurance policy to help replace any workplace coverage you may have had.
- Evaluate your retirement plans. While some employers allow you to leave your 401(k) in place, it may not always be the right move. Have a financial professional look the plan over to see if you are better off rolling over the funds into a traditional IRA or Roth IRA.
- Network-Network-Network. You never know where your next job will come from, so take advantage of every networking opportunity. Also, be sure to use social media platforms like LinkedIn to help connect with people online, and let them know you’re looking.
- Stay in touch. For many people, a lot of social interaction comes from being with coworkers. Suddenly having that automatic interaction shut off can be demoralizing. Yes, it takes more work versus showing up every day, but keeping connected is good for your spirits—and who knows where it might lead professionally.
- Take time to consider your next step. There’s no challenge that comes without some positive. After you get over your initial response, particularly if it came as a surprise, give yourself some time to think about what you want your next chapter to be. We often get so focused on our day-to-day functions we don’t give ourselves time to think about what would be an exciting next step in our lives and careers. Even if you’re stressed out at the unforeseen change—which is perfectly normal—if you can find the opportunity in it, you’ll likely be glad you did.
— Michelle Cutrali contributed to this article.