There will be massive unemployment for the foreseeable future. On March 26, it was reported that more than three million Americans filed for unemployment benefits the week prior.
Companies have initiated hiring freezes and layoffs have started and are accelerating quickly. The impact of the coronavirus is now more than a health risk. The economic costs will be staggering. The government’s demand to shut down companies and confine people to their homes has ground business to a halt. Injecting trillions of dollars into the economy was deemed necessary to avoid a complete financial meltdown.
There’s a high probability that you, a family member or a friend will be downsized. In this time of grave uncertainty, losing a job is not your fault. The current circumstances are out of your control. You’re a victim of the outbreak and its aftermath. There’s no sugarcoating it—when you lose your job, it hurts. It’s a sucker punch to the face.
Here’s A Practical Guide Of What To Do When You’ve Been Let Go:
Be prepared, as you’ll be sent reeling. At first, you will not comprehend that this is really happening. The conversation with human resources and your boss will seem like a blur. You’ll go home in a daze. Reluctantly, you’ll tell your spouse and kids about what just occurred while trying not to lose control of your emotions and completely fall apart.
Keep Your Cool When Told “You’re Being Downsized”
When you get the call or email to sit down with human resources and your boss, you know it’s not good. You’ll feel a little lightheaded and disoriented. We all know that this could happen to any of us one day, but we always choose to believe that it’ll be someone else who gets the pink slip.
The elevator ride to the conference room will take forever. When the human resources professional and your boss start talking, it’ll sound like the teacher’s voice in the old Charlie Brown cartoons—a faint “blah, blah, blah” that won’t make any sense. The meeting won’t seem real, as you’ll feel like you’re just living in a bad dream.
Despite all of the emotions and your thoughts running wild, you have to focus and concentrate on being present in the moment. What happens here is crucial for your future. They will discuss the terms of your departure. Try to keep your cool. Ask them the reasons for your termination. Try to ascertain if it’s due to any type of discrimination, prejudice or retaliation.
Avoid saying anything that you will later regret, even if they are rude, unfair or vindictive. The sad reality is that you need them to provide a good reference for when you seek out a new job. You don’t want to say or do anything that could blow up the relationship and ruin your chances. If you are downsized, in between jobs and unable to provide a strong endorsement during this difficult job market, you’ll be at a big disadvantage and have a hard time procuring a new position.
They’ll push a lot of official-looking legal papers in front of you. Don’t feel pressured into signing anything right away. Read through them carefully and skeptically before you agree to anything. If you’re uncomfortable completing any actions at that moment, tell them you need to review the materials at home with your spouse or partner. This also buys you time to seek out advice from an employment attorney.
The company may offer you a severance package. You can try to negotiate a better deal than what’s on the table. You have 21 days to sign a severance package and, once it’s signed, you have an additional seven days to change your decision (please check the laws in your state).
You may be pushed to sign non-compete or non-disclosure agreements. Once again, don’t rush headlong into signing something that takes rights away from you.
Apply for unemployment benefits right away. Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed. It’s your right and you’ve been paying taxes, so you deserve to collect when you need it. Many states offer 26 weeks of unemployment benefits. The newly passed trillion-dollar stimulus package offers additional relief to people who have lost their jobs. Unemployment benefits have been increased by $600 per week for the first four months. Eligibility has been expanded to gig-economy workers, freelancers and furloughed workers who are still getting health insurance from their employers, but are not receiving a paycheck.
Health insurance is vital to you and your family. Investigate the company’s COBRA coverage. COBRA is an acronym for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, which affords workers the right to continue using their employer’s insurance and health benefits for a specified time period after being terminated. You will need to do some homework on how it works.
Ask about your 401(k) plan. Usually, you can initiate a direct transfer of your money into another IRA, and your account will continue to remain tax-free. You should be careful and consult with a financial advisor to ensure that you don’t incur excessive taxes and penalties.
If you directly accept a check from your company with the goal of placing the money into another account later on, your employer is obligated to withhold 20% for prepayment of federal income taxes. You can ask your company to transfer the funds into an existing account you hold at a brokerage firm or financial institution.
Since the options are a little confusing, ask a lot of questions, do research online and speak with knowledgeable financial professionals. You could lose a lot of money due to taxes and penalties if you don’t pay close attention to the details.
You also may be given the option to keep your account with your former employer. You’ll have to decide if you’re comfortable with the investment options they offer and if you want to continue dealing with them.
Make sure you are aware of any stock, options, accrued sick and vacation days or any other remuneration that you’re due. You want to make sure that you don’t walk away from any money owed to you.
Immediately start planning a budget. It could take weeks or months to find a new job. Without the income that you’re accustomed to, you have to change your spending habits.
Get Yourself Together
You need to process what has happened. Losing a job is one of the most stressful events that people go through in their lives. You’ll experience fear, anxiety, depression, resentment, and anger, as well as periods of positivity. Give yourself time to decompress and process what happened. It’s okay to feel bad. There’s no need to pretend that everything is wonderful.
Know that it’s not just you that is going through this unfortunate experience. This happens to almost everyone at one point in their career. Use this time wisely to deeply contemplate your next move. Think of what you want to do, your chances of getting that type of job and whether it will pay what you require.
In this brutal job market we’re heading into, you need to be open-minded and consider all alternatives. After the unemployment benefits run out, you may need to take a job that you previously considered beneath your level to pay the bills.
Be cognizant of your mental, emotional and physical state. If you find yourself declining rapidly, there’s no shame in seeking out assistance.
Outline a daily regimen to keep focused. This relates to both your personal and professional life. You need to get up in the morning at a set time and have a daily action plan. The night before, jot down what you will do the next day.
For example, your job-seeking agenda could be spending time searching the internet for opportunities and applying to them or networking online with former co-workers, acquaintances, friends and others who can offer advice and point you to the right people at the companies you want to work with.
Create tailored résumés for each job you’re applying to. Update your LinkedIn profile and contribute on the platform. Get in touch with hiring managers, reach out to recruiters who are experienced in your field, human resources personnel and other decision makers. Craft and practice your elevator pitch. Since interviews are now conducted by phone or video, practice using these mediums. You also need to keep your mind and body active. Exercise, do yoga, read, listen and watch uplifting and informative podcasts. Keep a daily routine of eating right, avoiding alcohol and drugs, exercise and maintain contact with people online.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back from recruiters and your résumé submittals go unanswered. Recruiters are afraid that their client companies are pulling job requisitions. Internal talent acquisition professionals understandably may be concerned over what will happen to their own jobs when the company is on a hiring freeze and has layoff plans in the works. There is a cloud of uncertainty surrounding whether or not jobs are still open. As almost everyone is working from home, there is a breakdown in communication as information is not flowing smoothly.
You must fight hard against feeling sorry for yourself. Try to remain positive. Celebrate all of the little accomplishments, such as a good job lead or a request for an interview. This won’t be easy, especially since you will be self-quarantined at home. You won’t be able to grab a cup of coffee with someone to pick their brains about job leads. You’ve lost the ability to attend meet-ups, conferences and industry-related networking events. The isolation will be difficult to deal with.
Despite the challenges, you have to stay positive and focused on both your mission to find a new job and keeping your sanity during this crazy time. Have courage and faith. Time will pass, things will get better and you will find a great new job.