Saturday, November 17, 2012

Surviving a Layoff

Getting laid off or furloughed is never on any employee’s list of things to do while in the work force. The fact of the matter is, though, that many workers today will at some point face a furlough or a layoff. Proper preparation is the key to making it through a potentially lengthy period of time during which you won’t be working, but since budgets are stretched thin as it is, most people don’t get the chance to save up in the event of an emergency. It may take a lot of trimming of your personal budget just to be able to make ends meet, particularly if you’re relying on just one income or unemployment to get through. It isn’t impossible, though. You just have to know where to cut back and by how much. While its true that a layoff is a stressful time, It doesn’t have to be the end of the road. You don’t necessarily have to lose everything.

The first thing you have to do when you’re on layoff is to determine what your next steps will be. Do you need to go on unemployment? Chances are good that you’ll need to in order to pay bills, particularly since the job market is so tight right now. Obviously, you’re going to want to start looking for replacement work if you’re not subject to recall, but if the company for whom you work has told you that they will call you at the end of a specific period of time to return to work, you can most likely get by just fine without having to search for a new job. The reason for this is that for the most part, these temporary layoffs usually only last a few weeks, making it almost not worthwhile to seek unemployment compensation. 

That being said, any time you’re going to be laid off for more than a week, you should seek unemployment compensation. The process usually takes just a few minutes, and many states now allow you to process your unemployment forms online, allowing you to get some things done around the house during unemployment, rather than waiting in line. 

It’s also important during a layoff to avoid getting too depressed, particularly since you’ll have to be cutting back on what were typically the luxuries in your life. Used to that triple caramel latte mocha frappuchino with double expresso every morning? Save the five to seven bucks on it and brew your own. Try cutting back on cable or your cell phone bill. These are some of the things that today are thought of as “necessities,” but which, in reality, aren’t. You might be surprised by just what sorts of things you’re paying for today can be considered frivolous, particularly if you’re making only half to two-thirds on unemployment what you did while working. So, what’s the key to avoiding depression during a layoff? Keep yourself busy, that’s what! Volunteer for a civic organization or a church, catch up on those chores around the house that might have gotten away from you, or even, yes, start searching for that “dream job” that you’ve been telling yourself you deserve all these years.

A layoff isn’t the end of the world, even though it can feel that way when your boss hands you the paperwork and tells you, “see you later.” Avoid the temptation to dig into your 401-k for expenses, and if you aren’t laid off, start thinking like you will be soon and get those credit cards paid off. That way, when and if it does happen to you, you’ll be in a position to think of it as an excuse to catch up on your reading, rather than the end of the world.

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