With the economy constantly changing and still on shaky ground from the 2008 recession, layoffs are an almost inevitable fact of life. If you’ve been hit with one, here’s how to get through it as best as possible.
Unless you’re completely oblivious to your industry’s market and the goings-on at the office, taking stock of impending layoffs can usually be seen in advance. Take, for instance, employees in the auto industry: the writing was on the wall about the sinking of the industry, and just about every employee started to realize their job wasn’t as safe as they once thought it was.
If this starts to happen, prepare by getting your resume ready and updated, keeping your network alive and activated, brushing up on your skills and qualifications, and looking for possible alternative careers.
Live Like It’s Happening
Although a layoff might not have yet occurred, if you’re certain it will, start living as though it has. This means cutting back your expenses as much as possible to live below your means because once the layoff hits, there’s no guarantee that you’ll move onto a new job right away.
The sooner you can get used to living with less money, the easier the transition and layoff period will be. It sounds basic, but make a budget so you can figure out what’s absolutely necessary (e.g. mortgage or rent, food, transportation) and what can be cut or scaled back (e.g. entertainment, clothes, daily coffee.)
Once the layoff is certain, it’s time to start haggling on the details. Some questions you should be asking include:
Is there a severance package? If so, how much is it for?
When does it start, and how long will it last?
How will it be paid out (e.g. lump sum or in installments) and who’s responsible for the taxes?
Does it include health benefits, and how long will they last?
Once the health benefits expire, are you eligible to start COBRA? If so, who will notify you and how?
What’s the status of your 401(k) or any other pension plan?
Why exactly am I being laid off?
Is there a chance for reemployment in the future?
Once It Happens
The last step—once the layoff has been finalized—is to accept it for what it is and start moving forward. Give yourself time to grieve over the loss, but set it so it doesn’t go on forever. Start looking for a new job right away, as in this economy—no matter how much or little it’s improving—there’s no guarantee of getting a new job right away.
All the steps you’ve taken, such as keep a fresh contacts list and minimizing your expenses, should lead to a far less painful layoff period than has to be. And with as much perseverance and drive as you displayed in your job, the layoff period can be a lot less difficult to navigate.