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How to Survive Being Laid off from Work

21.9 million US workers were laid off in 2018.  

Being laid off is often unexpected. Sometimes, there are signs you are about to be laid off from work, but other times you are blindsided by your employer.

If your employer is laying off large amounts of employees, you may have seen some of your coworkers be let go. If this is the case, hopefully, you have had some time to prepare.

If you are among the first wave of workers to be laid off or were the only one laid off, you might be panicking. This is totally understandable as being laid off is a huge upset to your routine and probably a blow to your confidence.

Fortunately, being laid off is not the same as being fired. You should not take being laid off personally. In this economy, anyone can be laid off with little to no warning.

Remember that this is a temporary situation and you will be back to work before you know it.

If you have been laid off or fear you may be laid off, keep reading for some tips to get through this period of uncertainty with confidence and optimism. 

Accept and Process

The first step to getting things in order after being laid off is to accept what happened and allow yourself to emotionally process the event.

Many people who have been laid off later realized that the layoff led them to a better career and a better financial situation.

When companies make decisions regarding layoffs, they often don’t make sense to the workers who are affected. It’s usually not the case that the lowest performers are let go and the best and retained.

Layoffs often occur abruptly and managers are required to make large cuts on a short deadline, usually before the end of an accounting period. This leads to cuts across the board and across all performance levels.

If you are laid off, you did not fail at your job. You experienced bad luck and were likely just at the wrong place at the wrong time. Accepting what has happened and grieving the loss of your job is the first step to moving on. 

Discuss Your Benefits

After you have been laid off and have had that unpleasant conversation and packed up your desk, it’s time to focus on yourself.

There are likely benefits still owed to you by your former employer. You might be eligible to receive severance pay to compensate you for your lay off.

If you have accrued benefits that you have not used such as vacation, personal, and sick days, ask about how to ensure you are paid for the time you earned. If your employer provides other benefits like tuition reimbursement or life insurance premium payments, find out how you can get the most of these benefits before you leave. 

When you are laid off, it never hurts to try to negotiate a settlement upon your departure.

You might be able to receive some benefits in addition to severance pay. These benefits are called “outplacement” benefits and will help you find a new job.

Services include career coaching, resume writing, telephone and online support, and access to other specialized resources.

While all laid-off employees might be offered a standard package of this nature, attempting to negotiate a better arrangement for you will not hurt. After all, you have nothing to lose at this point. 

Obtain a Laid-Off Letter

This is something to request from your company’s HR department.

It will be a short letter written by the HR director and printed on company letterhead that states you were laid off and not fired for performance issues. You will bring this letter to job interviews and provide it when asked for references.

It goes without saying that you should not try to hide the fact that you were laid off when looking for a new job. Be honest as if your company lay off was large, your future employers may already be aware of it. 

COBRA and Unemployment Benefits

If you are laid off, you might be wondering what will happen with your insurance coverage.

If you were covered by a group health plan through your insurance, you should be eligible for COBRA. COBRA is an acronym created by federal legislation that allows laid-off employees to continue to receive health insurance coverage for a period of time.

This period of time is usually 18 months and you will be responsible for the payment of the premiums in full. 

You’ll also want to register to receive unemployment compensation through the government.

This is something that should be done right away. It can take some time for your claim to be processed and if you wait too long you might miss the deadline to file for benefits.

Even if you have received severance benefits, you could qualify for unemployment benefits. Just be sure to be honest on your application. 

Get Back Out There

If you had a feeling that you might be laid off, you might have already started looking for a new job. If not, that’s okay.

Now is the time to get back out there and look for a new job. Polish off your resume, bring your lay off letter, and have your suit dry cleaned.

Read up on some tips for presenting yourself in the best light and practice common interview questions.

You might not be able to land your dream job or even a job in your field right away. There are plenty of options like warehouse jobs that offer good pay to hold you over. 

If You’re Laid Off From Work

Being laid off from work can be an extremely stressful experience, but it doesn’t have to be.

We hope this article has given you some confidence and direction to help you get through this period of uncertainty. Being laid off is more common than you would think and most who have been laid off find success shortly thereafter.

For more advice on how to recover after being laid off, check out this article.