“I’m sorry but we’re going to have to let you go.”
Unfortunately this is a sentence more and more people fear these days. Many employees at both senior and junior levels have had the misfortune of experiencing a layoff, including a few people I know.
For my friend Nichole, who was a Catering Sales Manager at a large hotel, losing her job was a COMPLETE shocker. She told me in an email, “My boss called me into the office and started talking about the downturn of the economy. Then I started to get woman’s intuition.”
I was surprised that her role, which produced a lot of income for the hotel, would be eliminated. I asked Nichole if the cuts at her company were being made at all experience levels. She said that she was at the manager level, but one of her admins was let go as well.
When Nichole told me she was laid off, I immediately assumed she would get a decent severance package that could hold her over for at least a month while she was searching for a new job. Yesterday she emailed me and said that the severance package (two weeks’ pay) that was “pending approval” for the past two months was denied. Ouch.
I can’t even imagine how it would feel to be laid off. Nichole said, “Right afterwards I was sad and mad. Then on the way home I realized that I wasn’t happy there and that it was a blessing in disguise.”
Here are a few pointers for those who need to survive a layoff:
• Start networking today. Dust off your resume and your interview suit, use holiday parties to let others know your background and interest in pursuing new opportunities.
• Decide now if you’d rather risk a layoff or leave on your own terms. If your future looks bleak, you hate rejection and don’t have money saved up, you may want to find a new job before it’s too late.
• Consider a new career path. There’s no time like the present to satisfy your curiosity and switch industries or make a career move. If you were too afraid of losing the security you once had, now is the time to jump because your security is scarce anyways.
• COBRA. Don’t worry, you still have the option to continue health insurance coverage after a lay off through this federal law. You have 60 days after termination to elect this option. My recommendation is to wait out the 60 days before electing since you would be responsible for paying the cost of the coverage that your company used to pay. Luckily you can still elect COBRA if you need medical coverage on day 59!
o If you have a pre-existing condition you may want to elect this option immediately to insure that your next provider won’t make you wait up to a year for a new policy. Also, if you plan on going “across the pond” you should probably elect this coverage too.
• Don’t even think about tapping into your 401(k). The tax penalties and fees are too great. Although it may not seem like it now, your 401(k) will be much more useful to you later in life.
• Keep your emotions in check. Most women take lay offs personally and feel rejected and hurt. Although you may be tempted to spend your time drowning your sorrows, don’t let yourself get to the point where you’re depressed or angry. Spend part of each day on your job search and take care of yourself so you can move on to bigger and better things.
Check out this slide show by the Chicago Tribune for signs of an upcoming layoff.