Sometimes life throws you a curve ball and unfortunately that’s exactly what happened to us last week. Phillip was laid off from a job that he’s had for over 3 years. We were devastated and heartbroken because he truly loved his job. After the initial shock wore off, we started on the long journey to finding a new job and dealing with the loss. I’d like to share some of the things we’ve found that can help you ease the transition and deal with the stress.
File for Unemployment
This was actually a hard pill to swallow for us because while we’ve been low-income for most of our marriage, we never wanted to take any handouts. However, when we really started to think about it, we had been paying for this in the form of taxes for many years so we decided to file. It’s not called unemployment insurance for nothing. It can take a few weeks to start paying and if you receive any severance, that can delay the payments as well so we filed right away.
Budget and Look for Ways to Save Money
One of the biggest stressors with job loss is the loss of income and the constant fear that you will run out of money. If you have any forewarning about your layoff, start saving every bit that you can. We were told two weeks in advance that some people were being laid off and although we were hoping we wouldn’t be affected, we went into “storm cloud mode.” Basically that means to strip down your budget as much as possible. Work on your budget and see where you can cut your expenses. Drop cable and get Netflix or Hulu instead, stop or reduce restaurant expenses, lower your cell phone plan, lower your internet speed, and cancel extraneous subscriptions. Really dig deep and see how far you can stretch your money. We’ve managed to shave nearly $400 off our monthly budget since we found out about the layoffs and we had 1 month of expenses set aside. If you hate budgeting, check out our post on how to make budgeting easier.
Take Some Time to Decompress
When you lose your job, stress is probably an at all-time high. It definitely is for us. So after we filled out a couple dozen job applications, we took a day to relax. We went to a matinée showing of Deadpool (which was fantastic, by the way) and then came home to relax. It’s so important for your mental health to take a day (or a couple of days) to relax and grieve the loss. If not, you may trigger an emotional breakdown. If your former employer allows you to continue your insurance for a few weeks or if they have an EAP (employee assistance program), you may also consider seeing a therapist at least once to talk through your feelings.
Spruce Up Your Resume
It can be surprisingly calming to work on your resume when you’ve lost your job. Sit down with a notebook and write down the new skills you acquired at your job. Don’t forget to include any accomplishments such as awards and promotions! Then create a new resume and think about what type of job you want going forward. Perhaps you want to make a career change? If so, tailor your resume to the type of job you want. Highlight skills that a potential employer would want you to have. We used this resume maker. It’s free to make your resume on this website but you have to pay to print. We used it to get ideas and figure out how to format properly and then created our own version in Microsoft Word.
If time seems like it’s standing still and your phone isn’t ringing off the hook with job offers, a great way to fill the time is to volunteer. Not only is it a great resume filler but it also has many emotional benefits for you. Studies have shown that volunteering can help prevent depression and make you feel more socially connected. In addition, volunteering can help you network which may lead to a job offer. If nothing else, it gets you off the couch, out of your pity party, and out in the community helping others. Complete win-win in my book.
Connect with Former Co-workers
Whether it’s connecting on LinkedIn, friending on Facebook, or actually meeting face to face, socializing with former co-workers can be a great idea after you’re laid off. Not only will it help you talk through some of your issues but you can also learn about job opportunities that aren’t posted anywhere. You’d be surprised how often someone will be related to a manager at a company or friends with someone who works in HR somewhere. It doesn’t hurt to talk to people you used to work with and get an “in” at a new company. When Phillip was laid off, several of his co-workers had suggestions of jobs to apply for that weren’t listed anywhere. While he may not get these jobs, it was still nice to have that information.
Consider Temporary Work
If you live paycheck to paycheck, getting laid off can feel like a death sentence. It’s a nightmare, wondering where the money is going to come from – how you’re going to keep the lights on and put food on the table. If you know you need more income right away, consider getting a temp job. Most areas have a few temp agencies or staffing services and if you show up first thing in the morning, you’ll likely to walk out with a job for that day or the next day. Temp work has saved our butts on multiple occasions. It’s not glamorous by any means and you might end up doing a manual labor job but it will keep you busy, fill the gap on your resume, and bring in money that you desperately need. You can keep applying for permanent jobs in your free time. It’s a better alternative to taking the first job offer that comes your way and quitting a few months in for a better paying job.
It’s so easy to blame yourself when you’re laid off but most of the time, it isn’t your fault! Companies let go of people for a multitude of reasons – lack of money, lack of work, poor management, downsizing, etc. Very few instances can be blamed on the actual employee. Even if you have a reason to be upset with yourself (didn’t meet sales quotas, made a mistake at work, etc), you should not blame yourself for being laid off. Get mad, yell, scream, cry, punch your pillow, let out your emotions but also forgive yourself and let go of any guilt you feel. Consider keeping a journal to write down your thoughts and feelings.
If you are going through a layoff or job loss now, please try to relax and remember that life goes on and you’re going to be okay. Losing your job isn’t the end of the world although it may feel like that most of the time. Focus on the future and what you can do now to improve it. Work on your resume, get out and volunteer or network, and work through your emotions. It’s possible that this job loss is exactly what you needed to get you out of your funk and push you towards the career you’ve always wanted. And if you ever need to talk, my inbox is always open.