A handful of years ago, my boss called me into his office and broke the news. The company was entering a series of lay-offs and because of that my position was no longer needed at the company. What happened next happened fast. While the shock of losing my job a job I had for three years stung throughout my body, I was given all of five minutes to clean out my desk, say goodbye to over 50 coworkers who felt like close friends, and get escorted out of the building. I went from winning awards for being a top employee at my company to being laid-off and asked to leave the building, fast.
Getting laid off is hard to digest and, quite frankly, terrifying. Sometimes, you can get a feeling that your company may start cutting jobs, and it’s a waiting game to see if your name is on the list. Other times, it catches you by complete surprise, and before you know it, you find yourself going from comfortable cubicle to street corner, holding desk gadgets and notebooks. I fell into the later category.
I walked home that morning, sunk into my couch, and gave into the sheer panic of answering the question What in the world am I supposed to do now? First, I called my parents and told them the news. Then I paced around my apartment, wondering what furniture or clothing I’d have to round up and sell if I couldn’t find a new job fast.
After I was able to stop hyperventilating, I got to work. I organized my thoughts, my emotions, and my next steps. When you get laid-off, you have no choice but to act smart and move fast. Here are the six things you should have on your to-do list when the news hits that you are cut from the team.
1. Create a ‘fun list’
Money is on your mind when you get laid-off. But before the fear of paying bills and finding a new gig consumes all of your thoughts, make a list of the things you never had the chance to do while you were working your full-time job. I made a short list of five fun (and inexpensive or free) things that I wanted to do over the next few weeks while searching for a job. My list included taking an aerial yoga class in the middle of the day (when it was half-price) and eating lunch at 3 pm outside in the park for an hour. This fun list helped boost my mood, energized me to work hard, and helped repair my bruised ego.
2. Squeeze what you can from the last job
Put aside any hard feelings toward your former employer and the company. While this can be hard, do it for important reasons. You need things from the company like references, letters of recommendations, and perhaps even informational meetings with their connections. Spend time writing your old coworkers, managers, or people in the company you had solid relationships with. Thank them for what they’ve done for you, whether it was growth or just making the work environment a good place to be, and then ask for a personal testimonial or their advice for looking for new work.
People in your industry might hear about open opportunities at similar companies, or know people who work at companies that interest you. What better way to get in the door then an old coworker personally vouching for you?
3. Research benefits and unemployment options
Review the exit package you were given. Before you sign any exit papers, decide if you want to negotiate a higher severance. It’s never guaranteed they will change what they are offering, and getting a lawyer involved can be pricey expensive. But if you believe it’s worth negotiating, look into getting free legal advice through local city agencies that specialize in employment.
Next, look into temporary healthcare options , such as COBRA or a plan on the ACA, since your health insurance will be terminated until you find a new job.
Decide if you want to apply for unemployment once your severance package ends. If you do, meet with the unemployment agency in your city to find out how to qualify and what you’ll need to do while you receive unemployment. Spoiler alert: You can’t get unemployment and just use the cash to backpack around Southeast Asia. They have lots of checks and balances in place to make sure you’re actively searching for a job while claiming benefits.
4. Level up your personal brand
Before your old job becomes too distant, write down 25 things you were responsible for and accomplished in that role. You can use that information to update your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile.
You’ll need these documents to apply for new jobs, so make the updates as soon as possible otherwise your job search will be put on hold. Plus, when you’re reaching out to ex-colleagues to leverage their connections, you will want to have your personal assets ready to go.
5. Pack your calendar
The job search process might feel very different from your last job. Rather than spending eight hours in an office all day with coworkers, now you’re spending your days solo and probably at home.
Fill your calendar with local meetups, conferences, and events that have to do with your industry and your specific job title. Going to those events will help you make in-person connections who you can follow-up with, and might also open you up to news within your industry that can help you pivot the type of job you’re looking for.
Skim through your LinkedIn connections and reach out to people who you haven’t seen in a while. Make plans to get together for coffee, or to go to local industry events. Putting yourself out there and getting out of your house will increase your chances of snagging a new job.
6. Look for jobs in odd places
If you’re becoming exhausted by the job searching adventure, look for opportunities in odd places. While people commonly apply for jobs through the company’s website or LinkedIn, some of the best opportunities are found somewhere you might not have thought to look Facebook groups.
Facebook groups are private communities filled with people in a similar industry or with common interests. Join these groups and search for open positions, or post about yourself and what you’re looking for. Consider this strategy a powerful way of networking without having to leave your couch.
Getting laid off can be equal parts frightening and frustrating. Spend time understanding what benefits you have through your severance and unemployment, and then use your time to work on your personal brand and develop connections that can lead you to the next opportunity.
Author: Jen Glantz Source: Business Insider USA