What to Do if You're Concerned You Might Be Laid Off – or if You've Lost Your Job
Adriana Morga READ TIME: 5 MIN.
Recent mass layoffs from technology and media companies, including eBay, Riot Games and the Los Angeles Times, might have you thinking about your job security.
If you're worried you could be laid off – or if you've lost your job – personal finance professionals and career advisers have recommendations for how to cope. They range from preparing an emergency fund to understanding your severance package.
If You are Concerned You May Be Laid Off
It's crucial to start building an emergency fund even when you feel secure at your job, but especially if you think you might lose it.
You might not be able to save enough to cover the whole time you'll be out of work, but even a small amount can reduce your stress.
When you start thinking about saving, Jesse Mecham, founder of the money management app YNAB, recommends you ask yourself this question: What do I want my money to do?
Maybe a year ago, you wanted to save for a trip abroad, while now you want to have money in case you are out of work for six months.
If you are aggressively paying off debt and it's affecting your ability to save, Mecham recommends slowing down payments. You should still make at least the minimum payment, but you might want to consider temporarily using any money you've been paying over that to build an extra cash cushion so you have money available should you need it. It's also crucial to avoid getting into further debt, Mecham said.
Update Your Resume
It's always a good idea to keep your resume up to date but, but you should also keep it customizable for several jobs, said Scott Dobroski, career trends expert for Indeed. You can do this by leaving space in your resume to include keywords that are specific to the job you are applying for.
Jobs might require slightly different skills if you are planning to stay in the same industry, or completely different skills if you move to another field. If you keep your resume updated and customizable, it could make things easier when you need to move on.
Etienne Lupine, 46, a software engineer at Keysight, was recently notified that she will be laid off by the end of the month. Soon after hearing the news, she decided to work on updating her resume and LinkedIn page.
Lupine had worked at the company almost eight years and, while the news affected her, she felt a sense of empowerment when she was updating her resume.
"I can't control losing my job but I can try to present myself in the best possible way," said Lupine, a resident of Lafayette, Colorado.
Activate Your Network
Tapping into connections in your industry now is a good idea, said career coach Marlo Lyons. Talking with your friends about possible job openings elsewhere could give you a head start.
Add to Your Skill Set
Gaining new skills and adding certifications or courses to your resume can be a good way to move up in your current job. If you think you might have to go somewhere else, look for the skills that will make you a stronger candidate, Lyons said. Whether it's taking a free online course or signing up to get a specific license, adding to the skills listed on your resume will have benefits whether you stay in your current job or have to look for another one.
Websites including Coursera and edX offer courses and certifications from universities around the U.S. They offer some of the courses for free.
If You Have Been Laid Off
Prioritize Your Mental Health
Your mental health can be heavily affected after a job loss. Take a breath and let yourself feel the emotions. Prioritizing your mental health will allow you to approach your job search in a better way, Dobroski said.
For Lupine, putting her mental health first means focusing on the positive aspects of a new chapter in her life, rather than dwelling on how hard it will be to leave a job she loves.
"I've been trying not to focus too much on the negative feelings about it, because I know that getting upset isn't going to make it any easier for me to make a fresh start," Lupine said.
Maintain a Routine
Keeping some structure in your day will help you with your mental health and with the right cadence of applying to jobs, Mecham said.
Planning your days so they include eating at your usual time, working out or going for a walk, and applying for jobs for a certain number of hours will keep you grounded, he said. Lyons recommends designating a time during the day to start and end applying for jobs.
"Do not over-exhaust yourself with applying to jobs," Lyons said. "Take time to do activities that make you feel good."
Lupine has been leaning into her hobbies to feel better. Her regular activities include baking, cooking and going to her curling club.
"I'm not stress eating. I'm stress baking because I just keep cooking things like, 'Oh, what's this new recipe that'll make me feel better?'," Lupine said.
Check Your Benefits
It's crucial that you understand your compensation package and save any documentation that you need to understand your benefits after you've been laid off. Some especially important things to know are your health insurance and dental benefits, Dobroski said.
In the last couple of weeks of employment, Lupine has been making sure that she has enough of her prescriptions for a couple of months, as she has Type 1 diabetes.
"I don't want to get myself into a situation where I don't have enough insulin or contact lenses or things to keep living in a healthy way while I'm in this transitional period," Lupine said.
Reaching out to your professional and personal network can be helpful, and it's useful to give some direction to friends and colleagues who want to help, Lyons said.
Examples include asking them to write you recommendations on LinkedIn, recommend you for a job or invite you to a conference for free.
Share Your Experience
It can be hard to talk about losing your job, and you should only share if you feel comfortable. But sharing can help by allowing you to lean on your support system.
When Lupine found out that she was laid off, she was texting with a good friend of hers who quickly made her feel better by understanding her way of coping with hard things: humor.
Apply for Unemployment
Applying for unemployment is an option that everyone should utilize, Lyons said. While the amount you get for unemployment might not be as much as your salary, it can help you to stay afloat for some time.
"Companies you worked for are required to pay state and federal tax which provide unemployment benefits," Lyons said. "Don't be shy about collecting it."
The Labor Department has tips on applying for unemployment.
Consider a Temporary Job
A temporary job is a good option if you can't afford to be out of work, Dobroski said. Lyons also recommends temporary jobs and says you should include them in your resume if they showcase skills that match your desired full-time job, such as leadership or organizational skills.
"It shows that you have grit, that you're willing to work hard and take care of your responsibilities," she said.
A version of this story moved in March 2023. This story has been updated with new details and quotes.
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