Laid off? Pink slipped? Downsized? Any way you say it, it means one thing. You’ve joined the 10.3 million Americans who are currently out of a job. Don’t dismay. Before you take up permanent residence in front of the television, follow our smart steps to get you back in the market and on your feet.
By Tanisha Sykes
Once you receive “the call” from your boss or your HR department, take out the note pad and jot down everything that was said. It’s fine to ask questions, but don’t say too much about your intentions or your emotional or financial state because anything you say now could be used against you if litigation comes into play down the road.
If you’ve had a good run at your current place of employment, then make sure you have something in writing to show for it. Ask for a reference. Make sure you get letters of reference from your boss or your employer prior to your departure while you’re hard work is still very much on their mind.
Still have two weeks of vacation left on your schedule? Make sure you have full knowledge and documentation of how many vacation, personal, and sick days you have left in writing. Some companies do not pay severance toward all forms of paid time, so ask your HR department to be sure.
It’s time to call all those friends, colleagues, former bosses, and family members and let them know that you are looking for new opportunities. This is not the time to shy away from your support network. “You never know who knows someone at the company you’re interested in,” says Abby M. Locke, president of Premier Writing Solutions, a career strategy firm in Washington, D.C.
Vicky Oliver, career coach and author of “301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions,” advises job seekers who are looking for new opportunities should consider sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, which can help you connect with old friends and contacts to gain employment leads. Don’t worry if you haven’t made contact with them in awhile. Send an e-mail and let them know you’re back on the market.
You should do it once a year anyway because you can easily forget all of the great things that you’ve done and you should keep a record. But if you haven’t, here is the perfect time to sit down and add your most recent achievements. Your resume should include a summary of your skills, the current employment and responsibilities, and a listing of awards and accomplishments. And be sure to have references on hand, including their full and current contact information at the ready.
Just because you’ve been laid off doesn’t mean it’s the end of that working relationship forever. Ask you current employer if there is an opportunity to take on freelance assignments or consulting work with the company. Or, ask a boss if any of your colleagues are seeking employees with your skills. By all means, don’t burn any bridges between you and your former employer because you never know where the next opportunity will present itself.
Lets face it. You’re out of a job and out of a check. If you’re eligible, it will take a between two to three weeks before your unemployment payments start rolling in (For more information on receiving unemployment payments, see workforcesecurity.doleta.gov/unemploy/uifactsheet.asp). Until then, you should consider reining in your finances. Take steps to curb spending and head off cash flow problems. Call your mortgage lender and credit card companies if you know you’ll miss payments. For dollar-saving tips, log on to Livingonadime.com.
Ask your company’s HR department about help with resume writing and networking tips or log on to the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration’s Website (Doleta.gov) for federal and state programs. And reach out to your industry’s trade organization for employment leads.
It’s easy to get mired in the thought of being rejected but don’t let that overtake your thoughts of pushing forward. Remember, this is happening to many others and more than likely, friends and family will be there to support you during this tough time. It’s most important to keep a positive attitude and keep up your professional appearance because the first impression is a lasting one.