3. File for unemployment. Your job should have given you the pertinent info. The process varies by state; just Google â€œunemploymentâ€ and your state. File as soon as you can (you might have to wait a week depending on how much you made in the week you were let go) and know that youâ€™ll have a one-week waiting period before youâ€™ll start to collect. When it comes to receiving your money, Iâ€™m fond of the direct deposit option, though you can opt to have your money put on a dedicated debit card. Fingers crossed that you max out ($405 here you come!), but be sure to let Uncle Sam take his 10% up frontâ€”until the unemployment insurance tax is repealed, you have to pony up. Better now than later.
4. Update your rÃ©sumÃ©. Yeah, you probably tweaked it the last time your boss pissed you off in the weekly staff meeting, but you need to revisit it now. Add an end date to your latest gig, then change everything to past tense. Now look at it for content: are you selling yourself with specific results-driven descriptions? Do your entries work for the new path that you picked in step #2? If it needs a major overhaul, call your alma mater and ask if they have an alumni career services program; most do, and theyâ€™re free. Your state also likely offers a rÃ©sumÃ© revamp service once you are approved for unemployment insurance; just be sure to take both electronic and hard copies to speed along the process.
5. Reach out. Now that you know what you want to do nextâ€”and have the updated rÃ©sumÃ© to support itâ€”reach out to your network. Keep the tone light and upbeat; nobody wants to be around Debbie Downer. Send an email telling everyone in your network that youâ€™ve been laid-off, and that you feel good about it (see #2). Paste in your rÃ©sumÃ©, too (if you make folks open an attachment, they won’t). Then tell them what specific help you need. Are you looking for consulting work? Say so. Need connections in the HR departments of all the financial firms in your town? Speak up. If youâ€™re planning to start your own business designing websites, use this as an opportunity to announce it; folks are always happy to throw work in the direction of the broke. Strike while the sympathy is fresh.
6. Make moves. But you canâ€™t just put out the call and chill on your couch in your jammies (much), youâ€™ve got to make opportunities for yourself. Create profiles on LinkedIn and every industry-specific job search-site you can think of. Set up daily alerts for jobs that fit your next step, and ask former colleagues and clients to write endorsements for you on LinkedIn. While youâ€™re at it, change your status on all your social networking profiles to something that suggests you need a new gig. Closed mouths donâ€™t get fed.
7. Get personal. Now you need to reach out to folks individually. The general email you sent out should have brought some leads to you, but if you know that your best friendâ€™s cousin works at the company where youâ€™d like to land, email her and ask for a lunch date. Getting out there and letting people see your face (and asking them for what you want) is critical. Itâ€™s not good enough to ask someone to let you know if a job opens up, because there arenâ€™t any jobs opening up right nowâ€”weâ€™re in a recession, people. Ask for an introduction to the person who could hire you, then set up a lunch with them. Itâ€™s all about expanding your network, so that yours is the face that pops up when they can add to the headcount. Also, look into consulting for your old company. They can’t afford to keep your fabulous self on staff, but the work still needs to be done.
8. Reevaluate your expenses. Youâ€™ll already be saving by eating lunch at home, but thereâ€™s probably more fat to be trimmed. Can you cut back on your cell phone plan now that youâ€™re at home all day? Do you really need HBO and Showtime? Get a clear picture of your finances by creating an account on wesabe.com; it tracks all your spending, and it works retroactively, so you can upload past banking activity, watch your personal spending patterns emerge, then do something about them.
9. Get insured. Yes, itâ€™s expensive, but if you canâ€™t grab health insurance from your spouse or industry union, spring for the COBRA, or see if you qualify for a state-funded program. Every year, more people are bankrupted by medical expenses than any other debt. Donâ€™t be that chick.
10. Help others. Youâ€™re on the job sites anyway, keep an eye open for gigs that are perfect for your friends. The more job emails they get from you, the more youâ€™ll be on their minds when theyâ€™re looking.
Bonus step: Stock up on Spam. I hear itâ€™s cheapâ€¦
What are your coping strategies for getting laid off? Lay â€™em on me!
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