I’m Laid-off, Now What Do I Do?

OK, you’ve been laid off.  Whether it is your first time ever being terminated, laid-off or fired, or not, it is generally not a good feeling.   Understood.  How you handle your new temporary situation, both mentally and actively, will be the single largest factor effecting whether you come out on top.  It is not untrue that if mentally embraced, the job termination can be the single best thing that has ever happened to your career and future.  (If you have decided you are not going to seek re-entry to the land-of-the-employee, but really think it’s time for a change for the better, consider following the lead of those who have successfully done so, the tried and true, and learning what the top business moguls consider to be the best types of businesses to build.)


Post-Lay-Off Unemployment Benefits
Some obvious points to keep in mind:  First and foremost, always* file for unemployment insurance with your state agency, even if you were seemingly fired for cause (meaning, “alleged” misconduct) –  unless you are fully confident that you did steal that company computer that they accused you of, then don’t bother, and leave well-enough alone.  Many people are unaware of the fact that some types of alleged misconduct, although valid reasons for termination (your employer, generally, does not even need to provide a reason for letting you go), do not rise to the legal definition of “misconduct” needed to be disqualified from Unemployement Benefits in many states.  (For instance, too many sick days oftentimes does not rise to the level of misconduct needed for one to be disqualified from Unemployment benefits.  Who knew?  Well, I did, but most others did not.)  Likewise, poor performance, if not purposeful, is likewise not a valid disqualifying reason.  Stealing, violence on the job, or overt and unreasonable insubordination, however, may be valid disqualifying reasons. Virtually every state puts their unemployment information online, and most if not all allow you to initiate the process online.  [*If you lost your job due to an inability to perform because you have a disability or medical impairment that actually prevents you from being able to perform any job on a full time regular basis, then Unemployment benefits might not be the best avenue.  You may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. In addition, please note that collecting Unemployment Insurance benefits is not a bar to starting a business, if that is your choice, so long as you continue to meet your obligations required to be eligible for your benefits (i.e. job search, willing and able to work, etc.) – this is particularly helpful in light of the fact that any business start up with merit will take some building time, and being able to receive your benefits will help you survive while you build your business.  Contact this author if you need more information on whether this applies to you.]


Severance Pay
Secondly, don’t expect an automatic severance package.  There is a misguided notion that we as employees are entitled to one if laid-off – not true.  In fact, by and large people don’t get them at all.  (Again, unless you have a written employment contract requiring your employer to provide a severance package, it is not required to do so.)  In addition, if you believe you have any legal claims against your employer (not the norm), be aware that generally, acceptance of any proffered severance package typically includes a release or waiver of any and all claims.   That being said, however, even if a severance package is not offered, you can certainly request one!  At times it is true that the squeaky wheel gets the oil.  And if a package was offered, you can certainly negotiate for more or differing terms.


Medical Benefits
If you had health benefits via your employment, recognize that they may very well terminate on your last day on the job.  COBRA is generally available, but the cost is a heavy burden to you as it can often be as high as 102% of the entire premium, much of which was previously paid for by your employer but will no longer be.  However, if you or anyone in your family previously covered under your employment provided medical benefits has medical issues, without COBRA, you may find it impossible to get coverage for them.  Not to mention, as we age, it is amazing how medical issues seem to readily crop up, and without medical insurance, financial ruin can very easily be the result.  Additionally, COBRA is only available, generally, for 18  months (exceptions apply), so make sure to use this time to research your private options while searching for that next job or starting out on that business opportunity you kept procrastinating about starting before.  More about this later.


Cardinal Rule:  Stay in Control
Although the mental shock that comes to some people after lay-off can take days to slough off, it is very important to avoid some bad habits that can crop up and take hold.  I’m talking about not treating this new situation as if it were a vacation or a period of grief – don’t sleep in until noon, don’t party like a rock star 4+ nights/week, etc.  Not only will your funds likely be tight, you really don’t know when you will next have a job or when that new business you think you may start will start seeing black.  To protect your best interests, make sure to keep your head on straight, and to do that, you need to eat right, get ample sleep (8-9 hours preferably), and get fresh air.  Lack of sleep, too many late nights and generally not taking care of yourself will inevitable wear on your psyche, which has already gone through a mental hit with the lay-off. 


It can also do wonders for your motivation and future success to avoid naysayers – those with negative opinions on whatever your planning may entail, tend to be amongst the most unsuccessful (personally and professionally) and unhappy – yet it is ironic how they will swiftly slice through your plans, if they are not tightly wrapped in a traditional box that they are familiar with.  Also ironically, it is the highly successful among us that will urge us to take reasonable risks, because it is only with a bit of risk that we can actually make the positive change to our financial futures that we seek and dream of.


Now is the time to plan out “the rest of your life”, so to speak (and such plans are always subject to adjustment, so never fear!).  If you are looking to be an employee again, then it is imperative that you start your job search immediately, like, the next day.  The economy being what it is, if you want a better job than that which you just left, you are going to have to hustle.  Get your resume updated and make sure it is professional looking and sounding.  (If you have decided that you no longer want to be an employee working for someone else, and I hope you have the foresight to at least consider this option – then, now is the time to make the move.)    And whether being an employee or a successful business-owner is your goal, you absolutely want to network.  The more people you know, the better your chances of success, either way.


Now is the perfect time to think outside of the box – it is actually a great opportunity to make some changes that you didn’t have the heart or strength to do while working your 40+ for the man. For those who still want to work for someone else, consider changing up what kinds of jobs you apply for  — if you seem to be otherwise qualified for a job in a different industry, and it sounds interesting, then apply for it!   If you historically worked for small business, consider working for large, and vice versa. ( And for those that always (or just recently) decided that they want to be their own boss, now is, seriously, the time, for more than 1 reason, to consider starting a business, particularly a ‘recession-proof’ business.)   Searching for an employment job outside your comfort zone or starting a business involving some new activities you are not used to will likely surprise you as to the benefits, both mentally and financially.  For job seekers, avoid taking the wrong job out of desperation unless it is a “holdover” job.  


If money is tight, as it invariably is for most of us when we are in your situation, consider getting a job to hold you over until the right situation comes along – this is not your dream job, so don’t expect it to be.   This is particularly helpful for those choosing to finally start and own their own business.  However, for job-seekers, it can prevent you from depleting all of your savings while looking for that dream job.  (Incidentally, being a job seeker/worker and starting your own business are not mutually exclusive possibilities – you simply must find the business that can be successfully built on a PT basis (we found just such a business, see below)  or a job that can support you sufficiently PT, while building your business full time or be willing to do two full time activities, work for the man and build that business.  Because every business takes time to be built, unless you have a big nest egg, “incoming income” is needed to live while the business is ‘building.’  (I don’t know of any highly successful people who did not burn the candle working that extra job in order to survive the ‘building’ phase of their business – except those that started with a nice financial cushion from the getgo, or a working spouse whose income sufficed, which is not the norm.)  Remember not to be upset if your ‘holdover’ job is not your dream job – that is not what you got it for!  You use it temporarily, 6 months to 2 years, tops, to help you get that business up and running!  It is a means to an end, that is it!


As a self-employed person, and given the current lack of employer loyalty, decent pay, available budgets, pension provisions, medical benefits and other impediments to worthy employment, I can not more strongly urge each and every person to consider starting their own business.   If you are laid-off, you are in the absolute perfect place to start. If this seems out of your realm of possibilities, banish that thought from your mind, as it is only holding you back from true success.  You just have to find the right business for you. 

For instance, as noted above, there is a unique American, but global, corporation that it is in the business of making successful business owners out of regular folks like you and me, and ensuring that ultimately the residual income from their business organizations will allow them to largely retire and enjoy life within 2-4 years (some less), if they put in at least part time consistent efforts, show a willingness to follow directions and being trained, and perseveringIf you want this corporation to establish a new business for you, for a nominal fee as far as business start ups are concerned, they will do so.   And, the minimal cost for starting this business partnership is affordable for everyone, if this is something they want.  I believe you will never find a more reasonably priced start up opportunity that provides an actual, legitimate business that you can begin to build, day 1, without further cost.  It includes  everything, including setting up your business and providing you with a team of full support, both on the front lines and back-office, complete customer support for your customers and complete representative support for you and your team.  You will be trained, at no additional expense, in all the steps you need to do with full support at every step – and if you are willing to be so trained and to follow the proven steps, you will have no choice but to reep the various types of compensation available, relatively immediately and residually.  You will be looking back and thanking your lucky stars that you got laid-off from your employer and got out of your own way — and took that first step.  (For more information on this business opportunity, call 570-234-0171)

S. O. Lewis, Esq.