I’ve Been Laid Off – HELP!

By Ted Daywalt   

So there you are on a Friday morning and the Manager of Human Resources shows up at your work area accompanied by a security person. Panic starts to set in as the HR manager asks you to clear out all your personal belongings and come with them to the Human Resources office. You cannot believe this is happening to you. You have been a loyal employee for many years and yet here you are being laid off. In your mind’s eye you start a primal scream for HELP!

With this extended recession, many people are finding themselves laid off when they never thought it would happen to them. Good, hard working people are finding themselves laid off. If it does happen to you, what should you do? Here are some tips on how to survive being laid off.

First, don’t panic. Do not take the job layoff personally. Understand that this, too, will pass. You can find another job, but you are going to have to work hard at it in this recession. You will need to get to work on your strategy. There are now some things that you must immediately do to survive.

Next, get your financial house in order. As a general rule, you will get a separation check on your way out of the door, or you may have up to sixty days notice before the ax falls on your position. Either way, be positive and remain focused on the fact that you need to find a job. Go over your finances (include your spouse if married) and make sure you have enough to last for at least six months. Cut back on any non-essential expenses. You may need to take a part time job to survive. Don’t be discouraged by having a part time job. Look at it as a step to reaching your goal.

Determine immediately if you qualify for unemployment and calculate how long your unemployment will last. Do the same regarding your health insurance. Depending on your financial situation, you may want to tap your money-market account, savings account, maybe consider a home-equity loan, borrow from family, take that part time job, but you will need money to survive until you find your next job, which could take months.

If you have been given time, use the time to network before your last day on the job. Don’t take time off or go on a vacation. You need to remain focused on finding a job. This includes getting your resume out to potential employers and letting everyone know that you are looking for a job.

Be a realist in your job search. Now is the time to sit down and determine exactly what you want to do, and be sure it is a realistic goal. Are you in the right industry? Are you going to have to move? Will you need more education? Once you know what it is you want to do, it is easy to layout a plan to achieve the goal. To assist you, there are many resources on the Internet, at local community colleges and at your local department of labor that can help you focus on what you want to do and for what type of job you are best suited.

Once you have your target and know what you want to do, develop an aggressive plan to execute your job search. Recognize that you are going to work 40, 50 or more hours a week in your job search. This will include targeting companies that you know can use your skills and/or experience. Begin contacting all of the target companies immediately. If need be, go in person, introduce yourself to the hiring managers or the appropriate human resources contact. Submit your resume for any future openings they may have, and ask them to refer you to other companies and friends in their networks.

Follow-up on those you have met or contacted in two weeks and then again in six weeks. Send thank you cards. They may know of companies with openings before the vacancy exists so that when something comes up, the company may already have you in mind.

Practice your “Two Minute Drill” and read up on current interviewing practices like Behavioral Interviewing so you can do well during the interview process. Practice in front of a mirror, practice questions and answers with friends, tape your self to hear what you sound like. But practice, practice, practice!

Make use of all the tools used to find a job. You will probably have five to eight versions of your resume as time goes on. Revise your resume to meet the needs of the job advertised. Post your resume on all websites that pertain to the type of job you are seeking and refresh your resume regularly. Look at newspaper ads. Check company websites for openings. Network with friends. You need to be using every tool available in order to succeed. You never know where the next good job is going to come from, so do not exclude any possibility.

Do not get discouraged when companies do not respond to your application. Be assertive and follow up with each application you submit. After an appropriate time period, call the human resources contact to ascertain if there is a possibility at their company. Do not wait for them to call you. You need to call them.

And very important, keep a log or journal of all the contacts you made, applications, etc. Record time and date, what was said in conversations, which people gave you what leads, etc. You will not remember it all, so you need to keep a record. Go back and review your journal regularly to ascertain with whom you should be following up, making phone calls, submitting applications, etc.

And finally, be positive in your outlook when dealing with others. If you find yourself becoming depressed, talk with your spouse, religious leader or a counselor. While hard at times, you have to stay upbeat. Studies have shown that job hunters with a positive attitude and approach get jobs quicker than those with negative attitudes.

The experience of being laid off can be a traumatic one or one that leads to a better situation. Remember, what happens in life frequently is not so much what happens to you, but how you respond to events and the choices that you make. So plan accordingly and make wise choices.

You can survive being laid off.