On March 20th, the first anniversary of the layoff, I had just returned from an assignment in London. For a group of folks, their layoff doesn’t have such a happy ending but at some point we all get back to business. If you happen to be facing a layoff situation, the best advice I can offer you is this:
1. Consider seriously going back to school
Some companies will pay for a semester or quarter of classes if they start before your layoff date. If you haven’t completed a degree or are a few credits shy of qualifying for a new one, take advantage of the unexpected free time and the benefit. You won’t be asked to pay back any education credits or degrees once you are released, so if the news of pending layoffs are a few months or a year away, take the opportunity now to prepare for another job role or career change.
2. Start looking for Roth IRAs or 401k plans that will allow you to get a tax write off or deduction once you become unemployed.
Don’t make the mistake of stopping to save for the future because you have been laid off or released. In states like Washington, you have to report unemployment benefits and pay taxes over the given amount, if you are over a certain income threshold. For professionals like me, it is most likely that you will need to pay. Unless your savings are low or you are not willing to borrow from your 401k plan, find a way to continue to save. It will help you ñong term, especially if the unemployment time lasts more than half a year.
3. Check out opportunities to volunteer and network in areas of your interest.
After you update your resume, apply for jobs and attended career fairs, head to the local chapter of any professional and amateur organization in your field. Putting your name out there and signaling on LinkedIn that you are interested in volunteer work can help yoy make connections normal avenues don’t yield. Some non profits have full and part time staff; might not pay has highly as your old job but it would most likely pay more than unemployment. A Walmart greeter job can help cure boredom but Uber driver and Costco associate, even Nordstrom’s would make you more money. Uber is somewhat of a volunteer organization. Worth checking out.
4. Develop a business idea you had on hold.
Did you always want to be a child care provider? Is your million dollar invention sitting in the garage unfinished? Is your hobby conducent to revenue? Investing your free time on the development of great ideas can positively refocus your energy and keep you busy. Waiting for job offers can become cumbersome and nerve wracking. Look around and common household problems and see if your solutions are unique and marketable. Open an Etsy store or sell arts and crafts online. Find a calling and nurture it. Financial freedom may be around the corner if you follow your dreams. A plan B didn’t hurt anyone.
5. Build a network of friends and contacts that can help you transition into a new job or career path.
A good support system is key when surviving though times. Reach out to local teams and organizations that work with job postings, head hunting and contract work. Ask your friends to refer you through their company’s website, incentive programs or process. My sister got a job this way after graduating from college. I wasn’t as fortunate but people did reach out to help and provide out of state solutions. My friends provided the strength I needed to continue my search even when I was overwhelmed and distraught because progress was slow. Enjoy your time off too and do your best to keep yourself entertained and not isolated. You know what they say about idle hands…
6. Be grateful and courteous during interviews.
Many people make the mistake of overselling themselves during an interview, of not being grateful for the opportunity and of being rude to the interviewers. Even if your old employer was (insert insult here) that doesn’t give you the right to badmouth them. It gives the hiring team a bad impression of your personality. Keep it simple, sweet, short and to the point; be grateful at the end of the interview and compliment the staff when they do something memorable and kind. The way you relate to them during the interview will always be used to determine if you are a fit for the organization. Don’t drop the ball.
It wasn’t easy to put down on paper what I was feeling and learning during my lay off. My decision to publicly document certain aspects of my journey was done in part to provide solace and guidance to others on the same boat. If you feel up the challenge drop me a line or publish your own blog. The people out there looking for support and guidance will appreciate it and thank you. 🙂
Go out into the world with your head held high and without losing hope. Layoffs are a common occurrence in today’s job market and do not reflect negatively on you. If I and millions of others have been able to make it through the storm and found other jobs and career paths, so can you! Don’t despair, the next opportunity is out there. 🙂