Millions of Americans have been laid off over the last few years, something that can be gut-wrenching and traumatizing. So what should you do if you are downsized? Here are some steps you can take in the immediate aftermath of being pink-slipped:

Find out what you may be entitled to from your employer in an exit package

Some companies may offer some sort of severance; others may just pay you for unused leave time. Some may not offer anything, other than agreeing not to contest your unemployment claim. You may also want to ask that they give you a good reference in writing, that you can show to potential employers.

File for unemployment

Each state has different rules for filing for unemployment, so check your state’s Department of Labor website for details. In most cases, you will not get unemployment for the first week after losing your job; it is what is sometimes called the “waiting week.” However, keep in mind that not everybody who gets fired is eligible for unemployment; if you are fired for cause, like being caught stealing at work, you will not get unemployment.  In addition, you may not get unemployment if your employer never paid into the system. If you are able to qualify for unemployment, you can get a minimum of 26 weeks of coverage, with more coverage depending upon what happens with the state’s unemployment rate.

Reach out to friends and former co-workers and supervisors

As painful as this may be to do, it is critical, not just to get moral support, but to ask them for references and job opportunities. Many people find their next job based on hearing about it from somebody they knew, so talk to everybody you can think of, and let them know you are looking for new opportunities.

Look for job search resources through your state’s Department of Labor

Depending on where you live, you may be able to find local offices where you can get resume and job search help. Some places may even have job training assistance, such as computer software training classes. Use these resources if you can, especially if you have not searched for a job in a while, so that you can get up to speed on job training.

Get your resume, LinkedIn profile, etc. in order

Make sure that you have a resume ready to go to send out to prospective employers. In addition, you should have a strong profile in LinkedIn – if you have enough relevant information listed on LinkedIn, you might find employers who seek you out, instead of the other way around. You can also set up a website with your resume and relevant information.

Sign up for job search web sites

Put your resume on the relevant web sites out there – Monster, Career Builder, etc. and check them regularly. Not only can you potentially apply for jobs there, but this is another place where employers might seek you out.

Get in touch with employment agencies

While you are waiting to find a permanent job, you should consider working a temporary job. You can find such jobs through employment agencies. In some cases, a temp job could turn into a permanent job; more and more businesses want to try out employees before hiring them for good, so this could be worth checking out.

Don’t forget to breathe

Losing a job is one of the most traumatic things people ever go through. Chances are that you are feeling a whole lot of emotions right now, most of them negative. That is to be expected. Be sure to take time to relax, and do things that you enjoy to do, to get through this time.

About the author: Lisa Swan is a representative of the Institute for Coaching, a premiere life and executive coaching company.


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