The U.S. economy may be in recovery, but that doesn’t mean that layoffs are a thing of the past. Nope, there is simply no such thing as guaranteed employment these days – unless you are a tenured professor or have some extremely rare talent or skill.
So, what do you do if you’re laid off? Reader Mandy wrote in the other day with this exact question. Here’s what she asked:
“I read your post about tips for surviving on a freelance income on the same day I was laid off from my job of 11 years. I want to start a side hustle, but what should I do in the meantime?”
What You Should Do If You’re Laid Off?
First of all, getting laid off really sucks. I’ve never been laid off before, but I know plenty of people who have, including my own brother. When you’re used to receiving that steady paycheck, getting laid off can turn your life completely upside down.
The risk of getting laid off is also an excellent reason to start a side hustle of your own. It sounds like Mandy had the right idea before she got absolutely shit-canned. When you work for someone else, you rely completely on your employer for your livelihood. But when you create multiple income streams through a side hustle or two, no one can take that away – and you’re in a much better position to weather any type of financial storm.
If you get laid off, here are a few things you should consider doing right away:
Cut Your Expenses Immediately
When you’re getting ready to lose a steady stream of income, it’s essential that you learn to live on less – at least temporarily. Getting laid off is the perfect excuse to take a closer look at your budget to see what you can cut. If you’re not sure where to start, go for the low-hanging fruit first. Expenses like cable television, a pricey smartphone plan, and dining out are the first things that should go. Keep cutting from there until you’re only planning to spend on bills that are absolutely essential.
Apply for Unemployment Benefits
If your employer lets you go, there is absolutely no shame in applying for unemployment benefits. If you qualify, you might receive a certain percentage of your pay for a limited amount of time. In order to receive benefits, you must have worked for at least one quarter in the previous year and have been laid-off by your employer. You don’t qualify for unemployment benefits if you quit your job, however.
Figure Out the Logistics
When you’re being laid off, you aren’t just losing your job – you’re also losing your benefits. If you’ve carried your family’s health insurance, for example, now is the perfect time to figure out how long you’ll be covered and what to do next. Also, check to see what other benefits you may be losing. See if you can negotiate an extension on those benefits until you can find an affordable way to replace them.
Inform Your Network
Everyone I know who has ever been laid off has reached out to their network of colleagues, friends, and co-workers as one of their first steps. This is a smart strategy because a) your friends and colleagues may not know you were let go unless you tell them, b) they might know of available jobs in your field, and c) your friends and colleagues might be able to connect you with someone who can help. Informing your network of acquaintances is a great way to put out your feelers and begin a new career in the same or different field.
Getting laid off usually means having some extra time on your hands. If you’re smart, you’ll use that time to cultivate a side hustle or passion and turn it into a money-making enterprise. My husband and I did this several years ago when we started this website and our subsequent businesses, and now we do it full-time. No matter what your talent or passion is, chances are good that someone will be willing to pay you for it.
Making the Most Out of a Layoff
When you’re getting laid off – or when you leave your job voluntarily – it can seem like the end of the world. A steady paycheck is something that you learn to rely on, and the idea of losing it can make you feel desperate and out of control.
That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re never in this position again. Start a side hustle, build your emergency fund up to epic proportions, and learn to live on a small portion of your income. The true security that these steps create means that you’ll never again have to worry about losing a job.
Getting laid off is never pleasant, but it might be just what you need to build a new life that is less reliant on someone else.
Have you ever been laid off? What would your first step be if you lost your job?