Losing your job can be a shocking experience, but there is no time to wallow in despair. The hours, days and weeks to follow will be crucial in getting you back on your feet. Here's a checklist of tasks that will prepare you for your next job and beyond.
Know What Your Company Owes You
You may be tempted to let HR handle all the paperwork and fine print of your layoff, but remember that your best advocate is yourself. Make sure you are keenly aware of what your company owes you according to your hiring contract and also what they are obligated to do based on state law.
States have various regulations that may dictate the protocol for minimum notice requirements, unused benefits compensation, and even severance packages. Companies may forget about an aspect of your contract or state law and miscalculate what is owed to you.
Get The Most Out Of Your Company
Similarly, you may be able to negotiate additional benefits from your company because of the layoff. You can see how open they are in supporting your transition by asking them to provide services like career coaching, professional resume and cover letter writing, a LinkedIn pro account for a period of time, and the like.
You can posit the idea in a positive light for the company, as they can develop a reputation of being proactive career builders in their industry with strong transitional support.
Now is the time to get references and recommendations from your closest colleagues and allies in the workplace. The relationships are fresh and people will probably be enthusiastic to help you make the most of your transition.
You can also consider requesting a letter from HR on company letterhead that explains that the reason for letting you go was not due to any personal reasons or performance issues. This may come in handy in the future for job applications if the issue is brought up.
Continue Your Health Insurance
If your employer-provided health insurance, this will be one of the most significant losses of leaving the company. Most likely you will be eligible for COBRA, a government program that allows you to continue with your same company health plan after leaving that company for some time. This allows you to stay covered, though it may not be the most financially viable option since you will be required to pay the full premiums without any assistance from your former employer.
Prep Your Finances
Whether you saw the layoff coming or not, you’ll need to prepare yourself for the likely rocky financial road ahead. Take an honest look at the upcoming six months and see where you stand in being able to cover all of your expenses. It will give you a sense of what your timeline should be and how quickly you need to move to find new work. This is important because it will give you a sense of whether or not you can wait for better offers if the perfect one doesn’t present itself immediately.
Register For Unemployment
Unemployment benefits can ease the financial burden of being laid off. You should go to your local unemployment office and register as soon as possible after you leave your job. In most cases, there are time limits on how long you have before you're unable to register, so the sooner you do so the better.
Take A Moment To Reflect
In all the craziness of being laid off and preparing for the next step, make sure you take time to reflect on the experience you had at your company and what your goals are for the future. Though it may not seem like a good thing, the transition period between jobs is a great opportunity to focus on your goals and frame your career accordingly.
Now that you’re focused on your goals (who knows, maybe you’ve even decided to switch careers!), create a plan for how you’re going to execute on them and make progress towards moving on in your professional life. What’s your daily schedule going to look like? What companies are you interested in? How are you going to track your job search? Creating a strong foundation at this stage will make the process a lot easier on you throughout.
Spruce Up Your LinkedIn
Don’t feel like you need to hide the fact that you’ve been laid off. It happens. It’s better to let people and recruiters know that you’re open to new opportunities. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is current and engaging. If you’re not active on the platform, consider creating post consistently now to gain more attention. Build your online presence.
Make Business Cards
You’ll want people to contact you about potential professional opportunities, so make it easy for them to do so. Have brand new, attractive business cards made to give to people. Always carry them with you.
Update Your Resume
This is the part that most people hate, but it is a necessary one. Every time you update and refine your resume you inevitably find ways to improve it that you didn’t think of the last time. Ideally, you can receive guidance from a professional resume writer. If not, at least send it to trusted friends and family with expertise who can give it a second set of eyes.
Speaking of friends and family, this is the time to flex your network for all it’s worth. This doesn’t mean that you have to go around asking people for jobs. Think of this part of the process as an exploratory and learning exercise. At this point, you’ll know what you’re looking for from your plan, and so you’ll know who you can reach out to who may have helpful information on how to successfully get to where you’re going.
Additionally, identify events near you focused on the industry you’re interested in and go to them. Try to attend at least two to three a month.
This last one is more of a pep-talk. Inevitably, you’ll feel down about yourself and the situation of being laid off at some point in the process. That’s ok. Just keep in mind that it's a normal part of life that everyone goes through at some point. View it as a new opportunity to focus on the things that matter most to you in your career.