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Layoffs and Outsourcing: Learn How to Survive the Crisis
Weathering the Storm
With the economy still floundering and not making a lot of growth and unemployment options increasingly limited, many Americans feel compelled to stay in a job – even if it is a dead-end opportunity. The risk of leaving a job seems insurmountable, but sometimes the decision is taken out of your hands and you really have very little say in the matter.
While I was out of state getting married, I thought that the sky was the limit. I was on cloud nine, and everything seemed perfect and blissful. Two days later, however, I uncovered the truth about how wrong I was. My company’s wedding present was to let me and almost 100 other employees know that our positions were being outsourced and that our services would no longer be needed. I went from the ultimate high to the ultimate low, almost overnight.
Layoffs are the epitome of a lack of control in your own destiny. You performed your job more than adequately, and you rose to the task of every additional responsibility that was piled on your shoulders – a lot of times without a corresponding increase in pay. You were a reliable employee and you went above and beyond the call of duty – but you were given a layoff notice anyway. The first instinct is often to panic. Everything seems uncertain all of a sudden, and there seems to be very little you can do about it. Entering a downward spiral is tempting and easy. If you’re going to survive the layoff and your possible unemployment, you need to stay as far away from the negativity as possible.
Weigh Your Options:
Sometimes options are severely limited, while other times give you more of a variety. Some companies who are outsourcing or closing a particular plant, facility or office are now required by law to give affected employees up to 60 days of advance notice. While this can leave you with the feeling of a perpetual storm cloud hovering above your head, it does benefit you in the end. Instead of showing up to work one morning to find the doors locked and a sign posted, you have a little bit of time to get your ducks in a row and get prepared.
Your company may offer a severance package for your service. If they do, don’t expect a full year’s salary in compensation. Severances are not set in stone and I’m living proof that not all employees are treated equally. Some companies also offer a bonus if you stay until your end-date. Ultimately it’s up to you to decide if sticking around is worth it – or if it’s more beneficial to jump ship prior to the point that it goes underwater.
Keep in mind that if you voluntarily surrender your position, you may be giving up your claim to unemployment benefits and other government programs that may be available. You want to carefully consider all the options on the table instead of jumping to the first course of action that comes to mind. While it may seem like a good idea to simply walk away from your desk and leave all your current projects incomplete, acting impulsively is not going to do you any favors. The key is that you don’t want to simply react – you want to act based on an informed decision, and those decisions take some thought and time.
Read the Fine Print:
If your company is offering some type of severance package or bonus incentive, you will probably be presented with a contract to sign in order to receive what was offered. It would be nice if your company could just give you the money without any strings attached, but things are rarely free – especially in the business world.
If you are presented with a contract, it’s important that you read it thoroughly. Don’t rip it up and refuse to consider it – but don’t sign it blindly and return it to HR without understanding what it entails.
The contract most likely has a lot of difficult legal clauses that can be difficult to wrap your mind around. They usually include an agreement that you will not bad-mouth the company once you’re gone, that you will not take further legal action against them, and that you acknowledge that the proposed severance package, any accrued PTO and bonus is all that you’re entitled to – and that the company doesn’t owe you anything else.
Also expect a clause that requires that in order to receive your payout, you need to return any company-owned equipment, and you may need to additionally sign a non-compete clause or reinstate your confidentiality agreement. All of these addendums are pretty standard. The company may not tell you that you have the right to consult with an attorney prior to signing the dotted line. If there are things that are unclear, consulting with a lawyer can be extremely beneficial to ensure that you don’t ensnare yourself in a potentially bad situation – and that you’re not agreeing to anything that you’ll later regret.
Put Yourself Out There:
While it may seem nearly impossible to picture yourself working for another company or doing anything other than your current job, it’s important to start moving forward as soon as possible. Take a few days after receiving the news to process what has happened and come to terms with the new reality. The longer you wait, though, the longer the unemployment process may last. If you were given advanced notice, you have the benefit of a little extra time. Use it to your advantage.
Update your resume: When was the last time you took a good look at your resume? Have there been new responsibilities or positions that you never bothered to add? Most people in steady employment don’t keep their resumes up-to-date with all the current information. Adding all of your responsibilities and achievements can be crucial to getting your resume noticed. With hundreds of people applying for any given job, making your resume stand out is a critical part of the process.
Use the web to your advantage: There are hundreds of job search engines on the internet. The more you join, the more likelihood you have of gaining interest in your skills and abilities. It may seem foreign to be filling out applications again, but the jobs aren’t going to come to you. The current economy has dictated an employer’s market, and they have the advantage. You need to get your name out there, and market yourself as someone with valuable skills and even more valuable experience if you want to land yourself a new job sooner rather than later.
Turn to your social network: No matter how good your resume is, a lot of jobs are found due to the people you know – and not the companies you search online. Networking is a huge part of the employment process and an employee referral can go a long way towards landing you a new job. While going out on interviews may seem completely bizarre to you now, going on a few interviews is going to get you back into the swing of things. Let your friends and contacts know what’s going on – and have them keep an eye on possible openings.
Research Available Programs:
No one is expected to live on the money they get from unemployment – at least not long-term. In order to maximize your benefits, it may be worthwhile to land a part-time gig if a full-time position seems more difficult to nail down right away. The employment process takes time, and it’s better to have some money coming in compared to the relative nothing provided by unemployment.
If you’re a displaced worker and your job has been shipped overseas, you may also be eligible for the TAA program offered by the Federal Government. This program can be an invaluable asset and it provides a wide array of benefits including extensions on unemployment benefits, full payment for higher education in qualified programs, payment for a certain percentage of your health care costs and more. Ask the human resources department if your situation is eligible for coverage under TAA – and if they’d be willing to file a petition on behalf of their displaced workers. If not, you can have a petition entered on your behalf by your local reemployment office.
Keep Things Professional:
One of the hardest parts of knowing that a layoff is coming and that you will only be employed by your company through a certain date in the eminent future, time seems to be working against you. The pressure to find a job can be overwhelming. It’s easy to develop a ‘screw it’ mentality. This can make you not show up to work, take extended time off, come in late and be less-than-productive while you are on the job. You want to keep things as professional as possible, however. Not only will it benefit you when prospective employers contact your current company for references, but it will go a long way to proving your eligibility for reemployment if your company decides to delay the layoff – or remove it completely.
Nothing feels like a kick in the gut more than having to train your eventual replacement. As much as you may want to punch him or her in the face, it’s not their fault. Simply do your best to point out the intricacies of your position – and be sure to give them helpful hints that you’ve learned throughout your experience. Take comfort in the fact that no amount of training in such a brief amount of time is going to enable them to do your job better than you do – especially if you’ve been there for a considerable amount of time.
Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst
Only a few Americans are prepared for a job loss in the current economic crisis. While many families used to have a savings account built up in case of a rainy day, most have had to dig into their funds in order to make ends meet or pay the bills. It’s advisable to have up to six months’ salary in savings, but in today’s market that’s nearly impossible.
You need to take a good hard look at your budget and identify ways that you can cut back on unnecessary spending in case that you don’t land your dream job immediately. You may have to sit down with your spouse or significant other and have some serious discussions about how the bills are going to be paid and what sacrifices you’re willing to make to ensure that you’re equipped with the basic necessities.
It’s better to be over-prepared than under. You have every shot of having a new position lined up by the time your current employment runs out. In that case, make sure to start a savings plan and consider putting your money-saving ideas into practice – just in case the situation repeats itself.
Losing your job is an enormous loss. Your sense of independence and security can all come crashing down. You can expect to encounter a wide variety of emotions, and the stages of grief definitely come into play. It’s simply hard to stay positive in the face of a financial crisis, but positivity often gets paid back in spades. Keep your head up and see this as an opportunity for growth. Instead of being faced with the doldrums of a dead-end job forever, this may be the kick you needed to get into gear and force yourself into action. You may just end up with the opportunity of a lifetime – in hindsight your layoff may be a gift in disguise – it’s all a matter of how you look at it.