How to Survive a Layoff
Actionable Steps to take NOW in order to stay in control of your financial and professional future
Nobody wants to be laid off. Unfortunately, however, 40% of professionals are laid off or terminated at least once in their lifetime. With layoff anxiety high and the possibility of a recession looming, below is a list of steps to take to ensure that you’re prepared for a company layoff.
Steps to Take Beforehand, even if You Do Not Expect to Be Laid Off
First and foremost, you must build up enough savings to account for, 3-6 months of your necessary monthly expenses. Current trends show that from application to hiring, a job search can take five to six months, while unemployment benefits can take four to six weeks, so if you want to stay on top of your expenses, you will need enough money in your emergency fund to keep you and your dependents afloat while you wait for a steady stream of income.
When deciding how much money you need in your account, you will want to account for car payments, rent/mortgage, insurance, groceries, gas, utilities, electricity, and any other monthly payments that you are expected to make monthly.
Next, you will want to identify the expense areas you can easily cut down. These can be areas such as eating out, entertainment, unnecessary subscriptions, travel, etc. Keeping the expenses you can easily cut and how much you can save by doing so in the back of your mind will make it easier if you are laid off. A good rule of thumb for times like these as well as when things are flowing smoothly is “Live Below Your Means.” Keeping your outflow far lower than your inflow is the key to making this happen. This may mean you no longer can afford the niceties you’ve become accustomed to but doing so will help you sleep much better at night.
Then consider ways you can pull in additional income. For example, are you crafty and able to sell some unique goods or services? Do you dabble in real estate or investment properties? Do you have spousal income or is there another side hustle you can work on to bring in extra income? Whether you’re currently employed or searching, a side hustle is always beneficial, as it provides additional revenue. This side hustle may be a temporary way to stop the bleeding or lead you to your new “main thing.” Either way, extra income will give you options.
You should also think about the skills or experience you provide that brand you as noteworthy. In other words, what assets do you bring to the table that make you indispensable?
When setting yourself apart, be sure to think about and research any trainings or conferences, you can attend (virtually or in-person) that provide you with specific certifications, licenses, or credentials that help you stand out from your peers.
These are assets that can help you from being laid off in the first place, but in the event you are laid off, taking the time to stay on top of your knowledge bank and marketable qualifications will help you stand out from the pool of applicants.
If you want to give yourself the best opportunity to avoid being laid off, it is also essential that you remain well respected by your peers, management team, and boss. This requires you to be a dependable employee, have an impeccable work ethic, a positive, upbeat attitude, and provide innovative, thought-provoking ideas. Of course, you will have days that this feels incredibly challenging. Still, if you make more days count than not, you will likely be thought of as an invaluable team member and if you do catch wind that layoffs are on the horizon, consider taking on more responsibility. It will make your boss think twice about letting you go.
What to do if You Have Already Been Laid Off or There is a Credible Rumor Floating Around
Losing a job and the accompanying income can be stressful and traumatic. Although to lessen the blow, we all hope that you are at least slightly prepared, there are a few things to consider in addition to what we mentioned above in the unfortunate event that you do lose your job.
If you know that you will be laid off soon, be sure to use your benefits before it’s too late. This includes any annual dental, vision, or medical check-ups.
Note: Ask if your company offers COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act). This allows you and your dependents to keep your health coverage for up to 36 months (amount of time varies) in the event of a job loss. You have 60 days to enroll once your employee benefits end.
You will be responsible for paying the coverage. Your past employee will not continue to pay your benefits during this time.
Review every detail of your layoff. Once you receive notification that you will be laid off, be sure you first receive a formal letter for unemployment purposes and then review the conditions of your layoff. Some things to look for or ask about are:
Your last day of work
Accrued benefits information
Severance pay (Is it negotiable?)
Although the process can feel overwhelming and emotional, make sure you understand your legal rights and don’t be quick to anger or react negatively. Remember, your reaction could affect future employment opportunities. You also don’t want to be too quick to sign any documents. You have the right to take home the documents to read through everything thoroughly.
Understand your state of employment’s unemployment benefits. Every state handles its unemployment procedures differently, so you will want to be well-read on your state’s unemployment laws to ensure you're cared for and well prepared.
Note: If you are employed in a different state than where you reside, you will need to know your state of employment laws. You can learn more here or by going to your state’s Department of Labor and Employment.
Ask HR if you can get a copy (emailed or hard copy) of your official personnel folder that includes your reviews, awards, certifications, etc.
Talk with your creditors. If you know that there is a possibility you could be laid off, contact your creditors and ask them about your options in the event you do lose your paycheck. You can ask questions such as do they have a hardship department that you can contact? What procedures need to be done? Are you able to reduce your interest rate? The sooner you speak to them, the better.
Don’t be too prideful to lean on your tribe (friends or family) and ask them for help. Instead, talk to those who care about you and see what areas they may be able to help you during this difficult time. This can include a childcare swap, helping with meal prep, carpooling, or any other potential need you may have while waiting to get back on the workhorse.
If you’re able, ask if your boss or manager is willing to provide you with a reference to help you search for a new job.
How LinkedIn Can Help
Whether you’re actively searching for a new job or not, staying on top of your LinkedIn Profile should remain a priority to expand your network, skills, and leads and improve your reputation.
Below is a list of steps to market yourself as a professional on LinkedIn and improve your chances of being hired.
Update your LinkedIn profile. Your job description, summary, skills, education/certifications, etc., should all be up-to-date if you want to appeal to your ideal audience.
To learn more, read our article, 9 Things You Need to “Get Right” on Your LinkedIn Profile Before Looking for New Job Opportunities.
Ask co-workers to endorse you in the skills section of your LinkedIn profile. Your listed skills allow you to showcase your abilities and strong suits while the subsequent endorsements validate those proficiencies.
Actively network with other professionals in your industry. Even if you’re already employed, actively networking with other professionals (primarily through LinkedIn) is an important aspect of professional growth, as it allows us to exchange ideas, build our confidence, provide and receive advice, meet people at all professional levels globally, and be noticed. And if you are faced with the task of finding a new job, you can turn to the network you worked hard to build and find a new opportunity by drawing on those relationships you have already built.
Find the groups, companies, thought-leaders, industry experts, and like-minded professionals that interest you and follow or connect with them. Here you can find inspiration and see how they think, what inspires them, how they got to where they’re at today, and stay up-to-date on the latest industry trends and information.
You want your name to be recognized and respected, so don’t forget to comment and interact with your network and the groups you follow.
If you want to add to your professional toolbox, check out LinkedIn’s Courses section. Here you can learn from industry experts and become more equipped and knowledgeable in your particular niche.
Research available jobs on LinkedIn to stay up-to-date with what is expected in your position. (Avoid doing so on a company device, however.) What skills do you notice are expected in your industry? What qualifications do people in the companies you’re interested in have? What can you do to be on par with the professionals you aspire to be like or to have your dream job?
At the end of the day, you want to stand out from your peers by being an invaluable asset to the team, so do your homework to ensure that you’re doing all that you can to stay on top.
Although being laid off or surviving a business failure can be exceedingly stressful, it can also offer the foundation from which your future is built. Think of it as a forest fire that is clearing out the unnecessary and offering you a vision that comes from a different, perhaps better perspective that will give you the insights you need to move forward in a positive direction.
You can learn more by reading: 5 Easy Ways to use LinkedIn to Research Trends, Connections, and Opportunities that Bring You Closer to Finding Your Dream Job or Business Opportunity and also How to Land New Career Opportunities on LinkedIn.
The Moving Forward Newsletter is a bi-weekly advice column by Kim Peterson Stone, the CEO of Linkability.us where we give you a peek behind the curtains into what it takes to put together campaigns that help you grow your business and career on LinkedIn and in Real Life.
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