Getting laid off from your job can leave you feeling rejected, hopeless and worried about your future. The key to surviving a layoff lies in setting the wheels of success in motion from day one. While others may be reeling from the shock and feeling sorry for themselves, you can be preparing for a bright future immediately upon receiving the disappointing news. Follow this survival guide to navigate a layoff.
Immediately after receiving the news — or even during the conversation — take notes on all the details provided to you. If the employer offered you severance pay or promised to compensate you for unused vacation time, write it down in case there are discrepancies when your final check arrives.
It is completely natural to feel an onslaught of emotions after being laid off from your job. Right after receiving the news, take a few quiet moments to yourself to work through your emotions. Whether you step into an empty office, sneak away to your car or escape to the restroom, take some time to cry, scream or otherwise vent your stress alone.
After you have processed your grief internally, talk to a family member, spouse or trusted friend. This lets you gain another perspective on the situation and also builds a support system to help you through your impending job search.
Within the first week of being laid off, register for unemployment compensation benefits with the local employment office in your state. There may be a limit on the amount of time you have to apply for benefits, so do not let your window pass. If you have received a severance package from your employer, be honest about it during the application process for unemployment benefits.
Talk to any colleagues or supervisors from your previous employer with which you still have a good relationship. Ask them if you can maintain contact in the future, as this lets you call on them in case you need a reference for a new employer.
Discuss with your family how you can cut unnecessary spending during your transition period. Shop around for cheaper rates on car and homeowners insurance to try to save money, cut back on entertainment and dining out expenses, and clip coupons to save on grocery bills.
Within the first month after your layoff, make lists to help with your job search. Write a list of 50 people you know within your career industry, build a list of 100 employers for which you want to work, create a list of 25 job duties you handled in your previous positions, and make a list of five new skills you want to learn at your next job. Update your resume to reflect your latest position.
Visit job boards, including Monster, CareerBuilder and Craigslist, to find open positions in your area. Carve out time every day to check these sites, and make sure your resume is updated on career sites such as LinkedIn.
If your finances allow or your severance check was large enough, take a break to clear your head. Even a brief and inexpensive vacation gives you a chance to recharge, relieve stress and gain new perspective on your future.
Within the first three months after your layoff, send out resumes and cover letters for any job that catches your attention. Go on every interview you are offered, and be honest about the layoff and your current unemployed status. Consider every meeting as an opportunity to brush up on your interviewing skills, always dressing and conducting yourself professionally. After every interview, send a thank-you note to the hiring manager and follow up as promised.
Be sure to keep good records during your unemployment. Create a spreadsheet to track applications you have sent; record the date, the company name, the contact name, the job title and the method of application. Create a second tab for interviews you attend; keep track of the date and contact information for all interviewers, thank-you notes sent and follow-up conducted. Consider using another tab to track job fairs and conversations with recruiters, and keep another to record your unemployment compensation claims. Your state's unemployment compensation office may require you to provide proof of your job search, so these records can hold helpful information.
In addition to devoting time to your job search, it is also a good idea to reserve time for a hobby. Revisit an activity you enjoyed previously, or take up a new hobby that appeals to you. This provides a creative outlet to help you relieve stress and may even lead to connections that can assist with your job search.
Instead of thinking of your layoff as a failure, look at it as an opportunity for transition and personal growth. As soon as you are given the news of a job loss, begin taking the necessary steps to find new employment. Recognize that while the job search process may take time, there is something you can do every day to improve your situation and survive the layoff.
Photo Courtesy of Ekaterina Alarcon at Flickr.com