Unemployed? How to Survive

Today, it was announced that the unemployment rate is the highest it’s been in 25 years. If you’re let go from your job, here’s how to survive the fallout.

Let’s face it. A lot of us are unemployed and more layoffs are on the horizon. Here’s a six-step plan to turn your layoff into a short (and hopefully positive) experience.

1. Don’t panic and don’t take it personally. It’s very simple. Layoffs happen because production has decreased and overhead needs to be reduced. It’s not you. It’s not your boss. It’s just business.

2. Depart gracefully. Get the details of your severance package, health care and 401k options and consider them carefully. Ask for a letter of recommendation from your supervisor. It could be more helpful than your resume in terms of getting your next job.

3. Utilize your resources and cut expenses. File for unemployment benefits immediately. Cut unnecessary expenses and scale back wherever you can. You may even be eligible to receive grants.

4. Breathe and think. Make a list of industries and companies that you’re interested in and meet with people that work in them. Research and ask for an honest evaluation of the industry and how you can fit into it.

5. Network. Use the power of the internet and social networking websites (i.e. Facebook and LinkedIn) to expand your network of contacts. Make sure that they know you are looking for a job by personally (and professionally!) relaying your qualifications and experience.

6. Get your next job! Spend at least 3-6 hours per day actively researching and contacting available employment options. Revamp your resume, your interview wardrobe and skill set. Be willing to be open to new career paths and get outside your comfort zone.

I was laid off at probably one of the worst times in my life. My daughter was about 4 months old and her father had just passed away. The timing was terrible, but if I was 100% honest with myself, I hated my job. I was underpaid and was wasting my abilities in a field that I wasn’t passionate about. The layoff turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I was able to scrape by with the help of unemployment and my severance package. I learned to be disciplined about my spending and used that time to diligently pursue my next career. It was NOT EASY. In fact, it was one of my most challenging experiences ever. In the end though, the layoff forced me to make the best career decision of my life. If I had known then what I know now, I would have begged for it to happen sooner.

Are you next? Would a layoff be the worst thing that could happen to you right now?

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