If your employer has just laid you off, you’re probably in emotional shock. But, as I said in the first installment of this epic, I’ve been laid off thrice, and I have a few commonsense tips.
Read the documents. Your (former) employer has probably handed you some paperwork about severance payments, continuation or cutoff of health insurance or other benefits, and so on. You may be too panicky or furious to scrutinize these documents carefully, but do it, or get your spouse or a friend to do it.
What you find there may determine how much you have to live on for months of job hunting. If you find anything that you don’t understand, jot down questions for your boss or your company’s human resources department.
Take your questions to them fast, if you can. The people edging you out the door are probably eager to settle your situation quickly so they can move company operations forward. If you contact them promptly, they may consider your questions part of the normal post-layoff procedure, and they can be very helpful. If you ask for help after the details of the layoff have faded in their memory, they may see you as a lingering pain that they wish had gone away long ago.
Spread the word to employers and colleagues in your industry. They may know of job opportunities.
If you’re reluctant to spread the news, that’s understandable. Losing a job is, among other things, embarrassing.
But don’t worry. Unlike getting fired, getting laid off isn’t usually your fault, and your colleagues know it. Besides, they may have suffered layoffs themselves: A Rutgers University study from 2014 says that one in five workers suffered layoffs over the previous five years. If your colleagues find it awkward to deal with you, send them this bit of advice.
Register at temp agencies if your industry uses temps, contractors, freelancers, or whatever else your industry calls workers who aren’t full-time permanent employees. This is a good idea even if you prefer to be full-time permanent. You need work and income, so go get it.
To find out which agencies to contact, ask your (former) boss which agencies he used. If you can find other bosses who use agencies, ask them which ones they use. The agencies will probably be delighted to sign up someone who has current job experience.
Apply for jobs like the one you were doing when you got laid off. That sounds obvious, but it’s easy to look at a job opening and say, “I used to do that job years ago, so I can do it again.”
Or “I’ve never done that job, but I’ve done things like it, so I know I could do it.”
Or “I’ve never done that job, but I could learn to do it.”
Employers focus most on your most recent job. If you’re an employer, whom would you prefer to hire: someone who’s been spending the past few years doing a job or someone who used to do it a long time ago? Or, for that matter, someone who’s never done it? You’ll save a lot of time and trouble by focusing mainly on the jobs that you’re likeliest to get.