Have you ever been laid off from your employment? What did you do next?
Effectively, “today at 5pm, your employment status with us terminates.” That’s how I and many other employees were laid off about one year ago, from the corporation many of us had been working at for a varied number of years. We all received a severance package and continued to enjoy our benefits such as medical coverage for about a month, and then it was all over. I stayed in touch with several of my laid off colleagues and we concluded that the shock, confusion, and stress we experienced did not begin to describe what we felt in the days that followed the layoff. Massive layoffs have been the order of the day, post Covid in all the 19 industries, from small to big firms like Amazon, Meta, Netflix among others. These layoffs have impacted individuals and families majorly leading to mental health problems, stress, depression, increased mortality, addiction among other disconcerting issues. Personally, I felt that life was so unfair because I had just lost my beloved Dad not too long before this layoff, that really hit me hard, (he was my hero). In addition, I was simultaneously facing other personal challenges as well as undergoing medical treatment. The saying “when it rains, it pours” really hit home.
In the days that followed, I felt one emotion one day, another emotion the next. Since I used to work remotely, I would every morning for a week go sit at my home office, turn on the computer and just stare at it with bewilderment at the sudden change. No more rushing to log in on time, no work colleagues to banter with, no work, no projects, no emails, no zoom meets, nada, zilch, zero nothing…..this was so surreal. As if this was not enough, about three weeks later, I received my very last paycheck and that was another rude awakening, that gave me shivers to my spine. Notwithstanding, the bills did not stop coming and other financial obligations had to be attended to ASAP. With all these moving parts, I had to fight off the unemployment doldrums as fast as was humanly possible because life had to go on.This layoff was my first, so I was ill equipped as to what usually happens after the fact.I felt a great sense of grief and loss that was weighty, leading me to want to understand what was going on with me and I was eager to know what l needed to do next.
“In the days that followed, I felt one emotion one day, another emotion the next ”
I embarked on doing research and reading extensively and in the process learnt that grieving is a natural response to death or loss and its an opportunity to appropriately mourn a loss, followed by healing. This process effectively works when one acknowledges grief, finds support, and allows sufficient time for grief to work. Important to note; causes of grief or experiencing loss occur when people lose a close family member or friend, separate from a loved one; lose a job, position, or income, become empty nesters, get divorced, relocate, or retire. As people try to make sense of a loss, like l had, the most common reactions include the 5 stages of grief as shared below.
According to the Cleveland Clinic. The 5 Stages of Grief include:
• Being in denial - feel numb and in shock at your loss. Feels it’s unbelievable you have lost. • • The bargaining stage - filled with nagging thoughts of whether there's anything you could have done differently.
• You may feel sad or depressed – this is where the reality & extent of your loss is felt.
• You might feel angry – because you feel helpless and powerless as well as experience a sense of abandonment. One may have difficulty concentrating on daily tasks.
• Acceptance, where one comes to terms with all the emotions and feelings we experienced when the death or loss occurred.
Barbara Field – a writer, speaker on mental health/wellness and women issues states that grief is a normal reaction to any form of loss. The goal is to work through your feelings, adjust to your new unemployed situation, and find ways to move forward. It’s important to remember that losing a job at a company may likely be due to circumstances that are beyond your control. For example, De Witte states that “the tech industry layoffs are basically an instance of social contagion, in which companies imitate what others are doing. If you look for reasons for why companies do layoffs, the reason is that everybody else is doing it. Layoffs are the result of imitative behavior and are not particularly evidence-based.” Recession and cutting back costs is another reason for layoffs. Therefore, try not to personalize the rejection or lay off. Barbara adds, “try not to demonize yourself and give yourself grace. But if you’re using unhealthy distractions as ways to numb your pain (alcohol, drugs), self-medication is not the solution.” Instead, it is better to seek Mental health assistance and guidance when needed and these are available online and in person.
Recommended Professional things to do after becoming unemployed and broke include:
• Upgrade Yourself, acquire new skills, via Fiverr Learn, Codecademy, John Academy and Udemy, PeteandPete Investors, etc.
• Update your resume/use a professional resume writer service, pricing about $120 and up.
• Decide what type of job you would like to do next before sending your resume all over the place out of sheer panic. If your motivation is money, then any job should suffice based on your skills. If you seek a job that gives you purpose and satisfaction, take some time to figure out what that job would look like, that may include a career change.
• Find out what your lay off rights are with your employer, read and understand the separation agreement document, pay attention to the deadline you need to accept by. Its usually 21 days given to review it and sign.
• Apply for unemployment insurance benefits with your state so you may have some income to atleast put food on the table as you figure things out. FYI, if you received a severance package you may be ineligible to receive it, though it varies from state to state. In California, you can receive both severance pay and unemployment benefits. Check with your state’s unemployment office. Learn how much you may be eligible for and the requirements for applying.
• Be disciplined & set a time daily that you will dedicate to job hunting & applying. (2-3 hrs).
• Be a Volunteer, e.g., at the Redcross, Unicef, USA Gov depending on your location.
• Create a Network, reconnect with old networks and form new relationships.
• Join a Temp Agency, e.g., Robert Half, Randstand, Manpower, Aramark, Adecco etc.
• Be Your Own Boss (Freelance), Fiverr, Upwork, Guru, Design Crowd etc.
• Build a personal social media presence, via Google Plus, Face book, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.
• Let your immediate family members/close friends know, this includes your spouse, children and or other dependents. This helps everyone know that certain lifestyle changes may be eminent, and it will help you get the needed support during this time. Hiding that you were laid off or are broke and overwhelmed with bills only increases stress levels.
• Since the timelines of getting another job are not guaranteed, analyze your current financial situation, and make timely adjustments, to help stretch your savings until you hopefully get a job.
• Downsize as much as is feasible, to help cut costs and manage your living expenses.
• Avoid unnecessary purchases and getting into major debt, because it’s a tough rabbit hole to come out off.
• Cancel unnecessary subscriptions and memberships.
• As you try to figure out what next, seek ways to have multiple sources of income. For example, we now are living in the Gig economy, start doing side hustles, such as Uber, Door-dash, Mothership, Roadie, Shipt, Amazon Flex, etc. to make ends meet.
• If you received a severance package, it is not your time to splurge but use that money wisely, to take care of the must haves, including putting some emergency money away.
• If you have utility bills, credit card bills, car-notes call your creditors and inform them of your current situation to see whether they can agree to payment plans, lowering your monthly bills or skipping a month or two, just to help you get back on your feet.
• Eat healthy foods, sleep well, avoid stress, do fun things that keep you cheerful, and discover a new hobby. You may just discover something you like doing that you can turn to a business and become self-employed, e.g., photography, vlogging, coding, etc.
• Maintain a positive mental attitude, and work out often, go for walks or jogging. I struggled with this the most, at some point I lost interest, but soon realized being sedentary is detrimental to my well-being.
The list above is inexhaustive. On a personal level with the continued massive lay-offs nationwide I have become a skeptic of employment. Furthermore, after applying to numerous jobs and receiving countless “Am sorry we decided to go with another candidate,” responses, I was fed up. Looking for work is work. With the help of a career coach, I decided self-employment better aligned with me at this point and time of my life. While starting your own business is not easy the satisfaction is indescribable. I have a passion for helping people immigrating to United States settle down fast and easily.
Wambui Kuria, my close friend and business partner, shares this passion, therefore we have recently started a company namely Tipitoe USA aimed at assisting people migrating to the USA settle quickly. We are providing consultations and orientation services on the American culture among other services. Please follow, like and subscribe to our YouTube channel through this link. Coincidentally, Wambui and I were surprisingly laid off at the same time though we worked for two different companies, and she can attest to the challenges of being unemployed. In conclusion, I encourage all my readers to seek having multiple sources of income fervently, however well your current employer is paying you or your business is doing, the unexpected can happen any time. PeteandPete Investors is for sure a good starting point to learn how to invest then begin making that additional source of income.
By Cyd Nzyoka, PhD
Cyd is an independent researcher, writer & HR consultant. She’s versatile, passionate about investing, taxes, teaching at the tertiary level, corporate training and dissertation coaching. She’s involved in writing on multicultural education, social justice and careers among other topics. You may read her works under IGI Global Publications. Cyd is a graduate of Capella University - School of business and technology. Email thoughts and comments to Cydnz@yahoo.com
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