It’s a real kick in the gut, isn’t it? Even if you’ve been expecting it, it just does something to you when you lose your job. Having been down this path twice in the last two years, I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned from my own experiences of being laid off. All of my posts this week will center around some aspect of losing your job and finding a new one. Today, let’s take first things first.
Apply for Benefits Immediately
Don’t wait to apply for unemployment benefits. Even if you received a severence package that will cover you for a while, go ahead and make your application. That way, when your severence runs out, your benefits are ready to go with no waiting time. Check to see if you can apply on-line. Many states now allow you to apply for unemployment benefits without even going into their office.
Even if you were fired, still apply for unemployment benefits. In some states, the employer must provide a high level of proof that you were fired for cause. If you are denied, then appeal. It doesn’t cost you anything, and it may make a huge difference in how well you come out of the situation. Let’s face it, there are unscrupulous employers out there who will make up reasons to fire you so they don’t have to pay for your unemployment benefits. Don’t let them win!
Also, apply for any social services that you may need. Talk to your state welfare offices about food stamps and housing assistance. You’ll need your layoff letter to prove you aren’t working. I know many people feel strange about asking for assistance, but that’s what it’s there for. Don’t let your pride stand in the way of helping your family. At the very least, check to see if you’ll qualify. You may not need it right away, but you may eventually if you don’t find work soon. Better to have all the information at your fingertips to be able to make decisions.
Get That Resume Updated
I’ll go more specifically into resumes later this week, but for now, let’s just get your existing resume updated and ready to go. Add the details of your last job, update all dates, and make sure your address, phone numbers and e-mail are still current. Get a resume ready to send out to jobs that come up while you’re working at revamping and upgrading your resume.
Ask for a Letter of Recommendation
Always ask your employer for a letter of recommendation or if you can use them as a reference. If they say no, it’s no skin off your nose, but if they say yes, it’s to your benefit.
Double Check All Your References
You’ll want to make sure that all of your current references are still — well — current. Call each personally and let them know you’re looking for work and verifying that their contact information is up to date. If you’re unsure how some of your references may be replying, get a friend to call and pretend to be an employer and find out what former employers might be saying. That way, you can weed possible problems out of your list.
Take Some Time for You
These tips will get you through the first couple of days of being laid off. But while you’re running around doing these things, take some time for you as well. Like I said at the beginning of this post, being laid off is a real kick in the gut. It doesn’t matter how good you were at your job, getting laid off will make you doubt yourself. Take a bit of space to just deal with your emotions. It’s alright to be sad. Let yourself grieve a bit for what was lost. It’s also OK to be angry. Lock yourself away where no one can hear you and scream and cry and yell all you want. Get it out of your system so it doesn’t fester. Dwelling on it has a tendency to make you bitter, and you don’t want that coming out in interviews later. Get it out of your system and let it go.
Share Your Experiences
I’ve already heard from a couple of my readers that they’ve been laid off lately. Share your experiences with each other here. We can be a sounding board and support for one another as we travel through this very uncertain economy. Leave a comment, and I promise to answer each and every one of you.