6 Things to Do If You Get Laid Off

The best advice you’ll hear when it comes to what to do if you get laid off will be from someone who has been laid off. It’s simply one of those experiences you can’t understand unless you’ve been through it. Then again, it’s very likely that every person reading this either knows somebody who has been laid off or has been laid off themselves regardless of where you live: Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico. If you’re new to this experience, what those in business euphemistically refer to as “downsizing” or “restructuring,” here are six things you can do in the wake of the shock and confusion you may be feeling.

  1. Freak out:

    This is the first thing you need to do. Preferably in private. Let yourself get upset and pissed off. Don’t be afraid to express your emotions, but do your best to do your venting, cursing, and crying at home. Not in front of your boss, your co-workers, and definitely, definitely not on Facebook or Twitter. When it comes to guilt, do what you can to let that feeling go. Keep in mind you had no control over whatever it is that led up to being laid off.

  2. Ask for severance pay:

    Companies are not required to give you a severance package, but many do in order to maintain civil relationships with their employees and to avoid being sued by a laid-off employee. In a termination meeting, you are not required to sign an agreement to a severance package. You can instead take the severance package information home and review it in a less emotional state. If you’re not happy with the package, consider consulting a lawyer.

  3. Consider COBRA:

    Since layoffs often happen out of the blue, you may not be prepared financially for the abrupt loss of your salary and health benefits. If 20 or more people were employed at your job, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) can provide you and your spouse with your employer’s health coverage for up to 18 months. However, in most cases, you will have to pay the full premium you and your employer paid while you were employed. Still, coverage through COBRA can be a lifesaver if you had any medical procedures or surgery scheduled before being laid off.

  4. Think about collecting unemployment benefits:

    When you get laid off, you have the option to file for unemployment benefits. Unfortunately, those benefits will only amount to a fraction of your lost salary and they are taxable. You can elect to not have taxes taken out of your unemployment checks, but you will definitely have to pay those taxes later. Many states require that at some point while you are collecting unemployment, you attend a “job training” program, which you may find to be helpful, or an utter waste of your time.

  5. Update your resume:

    The worst thing you can do is not let everyone on the planet know you got laid off and that you are looking for work. Reign in your anger, acknowledge you’re not the only one who’s in the same position, and put yourself back out there on the market. Initially, you might not be sure what you want to do with yourself, and that’s okay. Just get your resume updated, update any online resumes you have out there, and start networking with friends and strangers to see what’s out there.

  6. Get into a routine:

    You may need a week (or two) to recover from the shock of a lay off. But as soon as possible, get into a routine similar to the one you left behind. Set a time to wake up in the morning, a time to eat, a time to do research and look for work, and a time to goof off. Sleeping in and sort of making up the day as you go along is a great way to send yourself spiraling into inertia and depression. Your new job for the time being is finding your next job.