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How to Respond if You are Laid Off, Downsized or Outsourced

Updated on October 1, 2012
Be prepared!
Be prepared!

2012 Down-Sizing and Lay-offs

It's Friday, October 5, 2012 -- 8:30am, and you're downing your second cup of decaf when the boss summons you to her office. As you walk down the hall, you notice one of your coworkers is tearfully packing up her office, and as you round the corner, the administrative assistant doesn't meet your eyes. With a sinking heart, you conclude the office rumors were accurate and you may be laid off. "What I am going to do if I am laid off and lose my job," you question. "How should I respond?"

But, it's not the end of the world. Take a moment to gain your composure. If necessary, return to your office space for a minute or two. Make sure you have a notebook and your wits about you when you return.

Ten Questions to Ask If You Are Being Laid Off

1. Why my job?

Logical, question . . . right? Are you the victim of a mass layoff or were only a couple of positions affected? Ask how the decision was made on who was let go/what positions were eliminated. Listen carefully to the reasons given. Don't waste your breath arguing -- the decision has been made. But, feel free to politely dispute any flagrant inaccuracies -- once.

2. When is the termination effective?

Express your disappointment that you are losing your position and ask for additional time to get your ducks in a row. In most cases, your termination date has already be finalized, but some companies allow some leeway.

3. Can I transfer to another position?

Frankly, your employer should have already considered this prior to letting you go. But at this point it doesn't hurt to ask. If you are willing to take a lateral or even downward position, let your boss and Human Resources know this. If you have been a valued employee, they should consider this as an option. If your layoff is not immediately effective, ask about any openings that may be coming in the near future.

Ask about Cobra Insurance.  Or, you may be eligible for low-cost insurance through the Obama Care Health Insurance mandate.
Ask about Cobra Insurance. Or, you may be eligible for low-cost insurance through the Obama Care Health Insurance mandate.

4. What's my severance package?

Typically, employers offer laid-off workers, a week to two weeks pay for each year of company service. Top level employees may receive additional compensation. Don't hesitate to request more . An additional week for each service year is reasonable. If you were close to celebrating an anniversary, such as 15 years of service, your employer may be willing to offer additional compensation. Note, some larger companies will not deviate from their formal severance policy, but at this point, it won't hurt to ask for more.

5. What about my health insurance?

Ask your employer to cover your premiums for a period of time after you have left. You will probably be eligible for COBRA after you have left. Cobra is a federal program which allows you to continue on your employer's health insurance plan for a period of time. However, because your employer no longer has to subsidize the cost, you will have to pay the entire premium. This can be quite substantial. If you don't want to continue with Cobra, you should look into individual health insurance if you can't obtain coverage through your spouse or domestic partner.

6. When will I receive my final paycheck?

If your termination is effective immediately, your final paycheck may calculated and ready. Your employer should pay you for any unused vacation; usually this is on your last paycheck.

7. What about references?

Note, many employers via Human Resources will only provide your hire and termination date to prospective employers. However, potential employers may bypass the Human Relations department and speak directly with your immediate supervisor. Try to ascertain what type of reference you will receive.

Remember, you can always ask others you have worked with if they will provide a reference for you. And, before you leave try to get a written reference from a co-worker, manager or upper level employee.

8. Will you provide any type of job placement assistance?

Some companies contract with job placement firms who offer assistance with resumes, interviewing, job placement and general career quidance. If your company does not, ask if they will pay for 3-6 months of assistance. In this current employment recession, it takes approximately 2-3 months for each $10,000 in pay to find a comparable position.

9. What about my company car, laptop, etc?

If you are leaving on good terms, some companies will allow you to purchase equipment/vehicles at a favorable cost. Once again, it doesn't hurt to ask.

10. Whom else knows about my termination/job elimination?

Organizations differ on who is on the "needs to know" list. Many businesses send out a list of terminated employees to key employees. If your impending layoff is a few weeks or months away, you may want to know who else knows you are due to leave and consider who you want to pass this information on to-- just yet. Of course, others may already know or suspect, but you can choose how and when you formally say your goodbyes. Try to stay on good terms with your supervisor and coworkers. Ask them to let you know if they hear of any openings or know of any opportunities.

You Can Come Out On Top

 Let's face it. Losing a job is a life changing event and you will be experiencing a hodgepodge of emotions -- anger, disbelief, bitterness and maybe even relief. But remember, there's another good fit out there for you. You can change this from a down-sizing to an up-sizing through planning, persistence and perseverance -- more about this later.

Good luck!


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    • malapapachan profile image

      Mala Papachan 3 years ago from Matlock Bath, England

      Just read your article and it brought back painful memories when I was laid off, it is not a pleasant experience as it's a real blow to all your loyalty, dedication and hardwork. If it's any consolation to anyone experiencing the same, have a break and get your cv ready when you truly feel ready as it takes some time for the pain to wear off. Also, here's a temporary solution, the biggest online website for homeworkers or freelancers. Just to reassure you I am not in any way affiliated to odesk. Thank you.

    • profile image

      Michelle 4 years ago

      Why in the world would you consider a "downward position" or demotion at a company that clearly doesn't value you. Get out and hire a lawyer.

    • ExpandYourMind profile image

      ExpandYourMind 7 years ago from Midwest USA

      Laura and Troy, I agree 100%. You have to look out for yourself nowadays. I'm afraid loyalty no longer exists.

    • TroyM profile image

      TroyM 7 years ago

      It's tough seeing so many lose jobs lately, esp. with long careers at places that give them the boot. Get references and all you can, and set up shop yourself,what the hey!

    • Laura in Denver profile image

      Laura Deibel 7 years ago from Aurora

      VERY good point about what kind of reference. You are right laptops, PDAs, etc all negotiable, too.

    • ExpandYourMind profile image

      ExpandYourMind 7 years ago from Midwest USA

      Yep. Advances in technology can sometimes signal the death of an occupation. Keep your eyes and ears open for other opportunites and keep your skill set current. Txs. for commenting.

    • mquee profile image

      mquee 7 years ago from Columbia, SC

      Very good. I work with guys who think that the company won't survive without them. We are working in a dying industry. We make paper and more people and companies are going paperless. Thanks.

    • ExpandYourMind profile image

      ExpandYourMind 7 years ago from Midwest USA

      Thanks! I hope it's helpful.

    • thevoice profile image

      thevoice 7 years ago from carthage ill

      great write its very true great reading thanks