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Survive (and Thrive) after a Job Layoff

Updated on August 15, 2017

Take a little time to process the layoff

Any job layoff, whether it be a complete surprise or an expected event, can create enormous stress and take a toll on your immediate health. Take a few days to just be good to yourself and process the layoff. Make sure you get quality sleep, catch up with your family, and invest a little time in favorite hobbies you may have neglected. After a few days, you can look at the situation with fresh eyes, focusing on practical aspects rather than emotional ones.

Get a handle on paperwork and practicalities

Don't delay - make sure you know how to extend your health benefits, if necessary, by applying for COBRA coverage. Find out how and where to apply for unemployment, and determine how long these benefits will last. When you have a general idea of unemployment income (and factor in any severance package, as well) sit down and crunch the budget numbers. Figure out what monthly expenses will arise during this transitional time, and create ways to cut costs.

Cut costs wherever you can

Food is one area where you can slash spending dramatically, often without much effort. Use coupons and shoppers club cards. Look out for bargains on items (like chicken or beef) that a "freezer meal" can be centered around. Recipes using the sale items can be prepared in portions and frozen for later use. Upscale coffee shops are one of the biggest money drains; if you've been ordering daily lattes and espresso drinks, consider making your coffee at home. Buy some inexpensive add-ins, like real cream, so you don't feel deprived.

The cable or satellite TV bill can be another source of extra income; whittle it down to a basic package and remove premium channels, or cut the bill out completely. You might be able to access just local network channels, or watch your favorite shows on one of many inexpensive online portals like Hulu.

You may also talk to your insurance agent about temporary adjustments to your car or home insurance which could net you some extra cash. You could raise deductibles or remove some optional coverages. It's usually easy to adjust these again once you have steady employment.

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Get dressed - every single day

Don't let inertia chip away at your sense of self worth. Even though this is a time of stress and difficult transition, don't let yourself slide. Do NOT wear loungewear or pajamas throughout the day. Get dressed immediately after your morning routine, and wear clothes that you will not be embarrassed to be seen in. Keep up with your regular grooming routine as well, whether it involves makeup, shaving, regular hair trims, or getting weekly manicures. You want to look presentable in case of an impromptu networking opportunity, but most of all, you want to feel proud of the way you look to the world.

Find the positive in a difficult situation
Find the positive in a difficult situation | Source

Update your resumé

After the layoff, take advantage of extra time to invest in a quality resumé. Never explain the reason for a layoff on your resumé; save this for an interview, where it will be easier to give a positive explanation. Focus on your experience, cut down on the wordiness, and offer specific, measurable examples of how you've helped your company. If you've successfully cut big costs for your company, made processes more efficient, or served on an accomplished team that won awards or recommendations, mention these achievements in a prominent spot.

It doesn't hurt to cast a wide net if you wish to apply for jobs in several different industries; if you do this, however, make sure to tailor each resumé version carefully and remove irrelevant experience and education. Above all other objectives, your resumé needs to convince the employer how you can help them. It's not about what kind of position would best fit you; it's about how you can help them accomplish their vision and goals.

Explore all career avenues

Be wise about your job search. Take a honest assessment of your skills and goals, and determine what path you will need to take to get there. If you need money now, explore temporary work options; don't let pride keep you from maintaining a regular income. It may not be comparable in pay rate to your last salary, but temporary work can be wonderful at keeping your morale up and your bank account healthy.

If you'd like to remain in the same industry, reach out to old networking contacts and keep up to date on business developments. Stay active on several job boards and sites, and use multiple recruiters to maximize your interview opportunities.

Want to take a chance on another field entirely? Now is the ideal time to do it. Attend job fairs and sign up for classes to gain additional skills. Find out if you can line up some casual informational interviews, to get a better idea of whether a career is a good fit. If it looks promising, register for any necessary licensing exams. If possible, and if it's not too much of a financial burden, get this licensing done early, and you will appear to recruiters as a very proactive candidate.


Your layoff could be a new beginning

Traumatic life events happen to all of us, and it's difficult to imagine them in a positive light. A layoff, though, can present a perfect opportunity to reassess your life and goals, and tackle new challenges. You stand at a crossroads in your career, and you're offered a unique opportunity to take chances that you might never have dreamed of doing otherwise.


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