what to do if you were just laid off (or are about to be)

If you’ve been laid off from your job, or if you’re worried you’re going to be laid off, you might be feeling pretty helpless. It’s scary to be told your job is being eliminated and you’ll be out of work and have to scramble to find a new job. But there are actions you can take before, during, and after a layoff to make things easier on yourself and decrease the amount of time you’re likely to be out of work.

Before we get to those, though, let’s get clear on definitions. If you’re being laid off, your job is being eliminated (usually for financial reasons, although it can also happen in a restructure). This is different from being fired, where you’re being let go because of something related to your performance or your conduct, and where your employer will typically rehire for your position. This language matters because you don’t want to say you were fired if you were actually laid off. Saying you were laid off makes it clear it was a financial decision, rather than one about your work.

What to do if you think you’re going to be laid off

Companies are typically pretty secretive when they’re planning layoffs because they don’t want to spook people and have employees who they weren’t going to lay off start job-searching. That means you might not have much or any warning that layoffs are coming. But sometimes you’ll hear rumors, or you’ll know that the company is in financial distress or that the main project you work on isn’t doing well or is slated to be cut. If you see danger signs, it’s smart to mentally prepare for the possibility that you could lose your job so that you’re not blindsided if it happens.

Things you can do during this period that will make the blow easier to withstand if it comes:

• Make some job-search moves. At a minimum, get your résumé together so you have it if you need it. It doesn’t hurt to start applying for jobs, either. If you’re not laid off, you’re not obligated to take any of those other jobs (although who knows, maybe you’ll find something you like better). But if you do lose your job, you’ll be glad not to be starting from scratch.

• Take home anything you’ll want to have with you after you’re gone. If you’re laid off, you might not be allowed back onto your work computer, which means you could lose contact information for people you’ll want to be able to reach, work samples, and personal files. It’s smart to make sure you have those items at home now. (Obviously, this is subject to any policies your employer has about what you can and can’t take home).

What to do during the layoff conversation

If you are laid off, you’ll likely be called into a private room with your boss and/or HR and told of the decision. They should cover logistics like when your last day will be (usually, it will be that same day, but in some cases you might be asked to stay longer), any severance payments you’re being offered, and when benefits like health insurance will run out. Here are some things to be aware of when you have this conversation:

• You can try to negotiate severance. In some cases, everyone being laid off will be offered the same amount of severance, or the company might use a formula (like one week of pay for every year you worked there). But you can try negotiating for more — especially if your employer has a particular interest in getting you to sign the standard agreement saying that in exchange for severance, you release the company from any future legal claims against it. (This agreement is standard when severance is paid, but it’s fine to ask for time to consider the document before you sign it. You can even run it by a lawyer, who might be able to help you negotiate a higher payment.)

• Ask whether accrued vacation time will be paid out. Some states require employers to pay out accrued vacation when an employee leaves, but others don’t. If you live in a state where it’s not mandatory, consider asking your employer to do it anyway. Some will.

• Ask what future reference-checkers will be told about your performance and the reason you left. A layoff shouldn’t be held against you — but if you were selected for your layoff in part because of your performance, you want to know that now, so you’re not blindsided by a negative reference later.

What to do after you’re laid off

If you do end up getting laid off, you’ve got a lot of company. Many, many people have been laid off and have gone on to much professional success — including, no doubt, many of your future job interviewers — so look at your layoff as a temporary setback, not a referendum on you or your work. In most cases, your layoff says more about the company than it does about you, since it’s usually the company’s finances and business decisions that lead to layoffs.

Meanwhile, do the following:

• File for unemployment benefits right away. It can take a while for benefits to kick in, so get that ball rolling as soon as possible.

• Activate your network. Now’s the time to reach out to everyone you know — both professionally and personally — about job leads. This is why you have a network! And don’t be shy about contacting your manager or colleagues at the company that laid you off. Most of them probably feel bad about what happened and will be glad to help if they can.

• Brush up on your job-search skills. If you haven’t had to look for a job in a while, you might be rustier than you think at writing cover letters or interviewing. Don’t wing it. Here are helpful guides to cover letters, résumés, and interviewing.

• Move on mentally. It can be hard to move on immediately after losing your job, especially if you didn’t see the layoff coming. Even if you weren’t thrilled with your job, you might find yourself missing co-workers, projects, and events that you didn’t much like while you were there. That’s normal! But staying mired in the past won’t help and can make it harder to get into the mind-set you need to do well in interviews for a new job. It’s probably not productive to go to endless happy hours with people who were laid off with you, or to let yourself wallow in anger about the decision or how it all went down. Give yourself a couple of days to feel whatever feelings you have about the situation — which could be anything from grief to resentment to fury — and then vow to move forward.

Originally published at New York Magazine.

{ 161 comments… read them below }

  1. Jerk Store*

    Find out when they shut off access to your payroll system, and if it’s that day, find out when (as in, on what date) they are paying out severance &/or PTO and try to get the gross amount of each. If they don’t have that info, right down the number for payroll and call them when you get home so you have all of that info when you go to file for UI.

    1. BRR*

      And if you lose access right away, I would see about getting copies of your paystubs if they’re only stored electronically.

      1. PlainJane*

        My recommendation: save copies of your pay stubs as you get them. I keep at least one full year of mine. You’re covered if you’re laid off, you can compare them to your W2 if something looks off, and you have them handy if you’re applying for a mortgage.

        1. Maria Lopez*

          I saved them to a paper file, and also as a PDF for each pay stub to my computer and the cloud, for years. It really paid off when I had some tax discrepancies that weren’t on my end.

    2. SunnyD*

      And ask your manager if they are willing to be a reference, and if they say yes ask them to do it on LinkedIn.

      I was prepared for my layoff (still am) with a note card in my wallet. Because of it, I was able to get through it, and I didn’t cry (my tough as nails manager did, though, when I thanked him sincerely for having been a great manager).

      *Deep breath – thank manager.
      *Now, or time to pack up program and leave instructions?
      *Don’t sign anything (lawyer review first)
      *Negotiate severance.
      *Extend daycare subsidy?
      *Health insurance ends when?
      *Outplacement help from the company?
      *File for unemployment

  2. CoolInTheShade*

    Very relevant since the US is about to enter a recession in the next 12-18 months!

    1. Spreadsheets and Books*

      Tbf, people have been saying a recession is coming in the next 12 month for about the last five years. There’s no real way to know when a recession is coming – even experts have a poor track record.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This isn’t certain and has been circulated after every economic downturn rebound. Simply put, the economy is never a given and you should always be prepared for it to change.

      1. Bowserkitty*

        I read this as “massive financial punning”

        aka puns/wordplays.

        …I think this means my brain is mush for the day and I can go home, right?

    3. Xerxes*

      This makes me laugh because I distinctly remember people saying we were entering a recession a couple of years ago and “2017 will be the new 2007!!!” OK then.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        This “it’s coming back! take cover!” mentality is why our grandparents and those who survived the Great Depression had really quirky beliefs ingrained in them. They were scared sh*ttless by what they had to go through and yeah, they didn’t throw much away and used every scrap of food they had available, even though they didn’t necessarily need to, etc.

        I wouldn’t laugh it off, it’s something we should use to our advantage to be prepared and not trust one bank with all our life savings etc but yeah, it needs to be reeled in and not used to create more mass hysteria.

      2. SunnyD*

        It’s a cycle. Just because a cycle goes a little longer doesn’t mean it’s not circular.

  3. Friday La La La!*

    Allow yourself a couple of days of self-pity: It’s okay, you have feelings about this, and it’s no fun to be laid off. These days are not necessarily right after the fact or consecutive. The mood strikes at odd times and it’s healthy to acknowledge it but don’t let it derail your job search.

    I thought I was over my last layoff (as I had found a job rather quickly) until I was doing the taxes months later and found myself staring at the T4 from the employer and had a mini fit of rage (in the privacy of my kitchen). Then I was truly over it.

    1. Aunt Vixen*

      I was laid off six years ago this fall. We knew layoffs were coming and I’d had a good interview the week before in case I wasn’t safe, which turned out to be the case; I got the offer half an hour before I got the news. That lifeboat job wasn’t a good fit for me, but less than a year later I moved to a much better position with pay and benefits in between those of the original job and the lifeboat (one had lousy pay and great bennies, the other had great money and crap-all else, now I’m more or less down the middle), and I’m three weeks from my five-year anniversary where my leave accrual levels up. The organization that laid me off has been through at least two more rounds of cuts and may soon go under completely (if it hasn’t already).

      I’m still mad about losing that job.

      1. Filosofickle*

        I’m still mad at mine from 2002! Not because I lost a job — that’s never awesome but it was a lousy job with an even worse commute — but because of how poorly they handled it. We didn’t get a penny in severance (after the owners promised they would never let anyone go again without one) and were booted on the last day of the month so we didn’t even have health insurance as of the next day. It sucked.

        (Originally I was supposed to be the last one standing in my dept and had a heads up from my boss the day before, but that night our biggest client fired us so they dropped me, too. I heard that call come in so I was prepared mentally. The few people who were left behind got a 25% pay cut with no flexibility or reduction in hours to compensate so staying would have been terrible too.)

        1. wem*

          You are not alone. I got laid off while on medical leave in 2016, and I’m still pissed about. I liked the work, the pay and the benefits, and I know I’ll never see another job like it in the city I live in.

        2. ThatGirl*

          To be fair, while some companies let you keep insurance through the end of the month after you’re let go/fired/laid off, mine terminated it immediately, and I was laid off in the first week of March.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            Yeah, I’ve never worked for a company that allowed separated employees to maintain their insurance after the official date of separation.

          2. Aitch Arr*

            It depends on the contract the employer has with the insurance company.
            I’ve worked for companies that end insurance on the last day worked, the last day of the month, or the 15th or the last day of the month, whichever is closer.

        3. Liz*

          I’m still pissed about mine in 1994. while i was miserable, and happy not to have to be there anymore, it was handled VERY poorly. i did get some karma though; i was let go on a Friday, and they had my replacement line up to start the following Monday. She walked out half way through Tuesday. oops. hahahahahahha and it took them a while to find a replacement.

        4. NotAnotherManager!*

          My spouse flipped off the building where their former employer is located every time they drove by it for at least a year after they were laid off the day they returned from parental leave after one of our kids was born. It was their second layoff and, while better than the first (laid off by phone call telling them not to come back into the office), it still sucked mightily.

          It was a blessing in disguise – they got a much better job (and a signing bonus) that has telecommuting, much more interesting, and better benefits. One of their coworkers at the layoff job recommended them and they had an interview days after getting the news. The payout + severance also gave them nearly two additional paid months home with me and the baby, which was also nice.

          Still, the organization did a LIFO layoff, and they lost their job over several much less qualified and competent people, which was a bit of a blow.

    2. Alternative Person*

      Very important. I felt like I was firefighting for over a year after getting laid off despite actually earning more money during the first eight months of it (thanks, six day weeks). It was only after settling up some big bills that hadn’t even come due till just before the year mark I felt done.

    3. Writer*

      Yeah. My last layoff was a COMPLETE surprise — as in, the strategy call we’ve had on the calendar for four months turns out to be, “the strategy is to cease operations effective immediately and you will receive your severance next week.” And I was lucky, and started my next job exactly 12 weeks later, for better pay and benefits, but every once in a while I still get really annoyed about the way they handled it.

      I still felt the burning need to be productive every day, so I applied for jobs, did research, and did home projects from 8-1 every day, but I granted myself the afternoons to sulk, binge-watch Netflix, or do whatever the mood struck me with. Processing is a thing.

      1. Artemesia*

        I learned about mine by a headline in the local newspaper; I was in the shower and my husband brought it in to show me. I was 7 mos pregnant at the time with a baby I had considered not conceiving because it was an awkward time in my career to be pregnant — never so glad to have made a life altering decision as that day. All I could think of ‘and for this frigging job that is now going away I almost didn’t have this baby.’ And said kid has been a joy every moment of her life and has given me my only two grandkids. I managed to get the career going again — not the same, but in some ways better and some ways worse. But the layoff came as a total surprise although it shouldn’t have. (if anyone ever comes through your office putting number stickers on everything and ‘oh we are just doing an inventory’, know that your days may be numbered as well.)

    4. Flyleaf*

      Take some time, but don’t let that get in the way of filing for unemployment. File immediately, that same day. In my state they don’t pay unemployment your first week, even if it is a partial week. When I was laid off I heard at noon on Friday, and was home by 2pm. I filed, over the phone, by 3pm. I didn’t get unemployment that week, but the checks started the following week. If I had waited until Monday to file, the no-payment first week would have started then, and it would have cost me one week of unemployment.

    5. rj*

      I had to find my W2 from the job that I got laid off from to get a mortgage, and I was like, ok, less rage than in the moment, but still, effff old job. I am thankful I got a new (and better in terms of $ and benefits) job before old job ended though.

    6. Gaia*

      I was laid off nearly a year ago. I’ve been very okay and had no major financial setbacks as a result (thankfully!) but I still feel a real sense of loss. Remember that this is a loss like any other. Feel what you feel when you feel it and don’t place values on those emotions. Just be and practice self care.

  4. Sloan Kittering*

    TBH I think everybody should always kind of have an emergency go-plan whether or not you suspect layoffs (you never see the one that gets you, right?). Try to send yourself backup copies of documents you might want later every month or so. Don’t keep too many personal things in the office that are very high value to you (it’s hard to get them back if you ever have to walk off, and you don’t want to be the guy lugging a dolly of stuff past the security guard on your last day). Don’t keep confidential or embarrassing files on your work computer – that’s always good advice anyway, but do a regular clean out, especially of files you don’t think about like “downloads.” What am I missing?

    1. irene adler*

      I would clear out any and all browsing data from the computer. That would include the autofill info, passwords, bookmarks, etc. Or at least, keep this to a minimum. Don’t want the next person to use the computer to be able to log into your personal accounts because you used to do so as the log-in info is stored on it.

      1. ThatGirl*

        It depends on the company, but I feel like the vast majority of IT departments are going to wipe the computer completely before they give it to another person.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          We wouldn’t have this issue either because someone would have our computer but not our login. The passwords are saved under our user names, not the general computer! So if someone sits down at my computer and logs in with their credentials, they get their own setup not mine, so they don’t have my password presets.

          Granted we also share passwords, so anyone who comes in after me will have access to everything anyways, including my email box for the historical aspect.

          So really, just don’t store personal information on your computer. Some of us may check our online banking or pay a credit card bill on our work computer, don’t save the logins there, just like the warnings will tell you even though it’s not the traditional idea of “shared”, it’s still not secure enough that someone in IT still has access to your personal info and not everyone even in high security roles can be trusted with your SSN and credit info, etc.

      2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        If your IT settings allow, go into the browser settings and shut off the autofill/save password options when you first get the computer. It keeps you from accidentally saving something that shouldn’t be there, because we all have that “Oh I Never Put Personal Information On My Work Computer!” except that one time you forgot about because it was a one-off emergency.

        1. SunnyD*

          Get a password vault like LastPass. It requires a login each session, so nobody could access your logins, even if your computer weren’t wiped.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      These are good things to keep in mind not only in case of a sudden dismissal but also just because you need to think ahead. What if the office is evacuated or shut down for some reason.

      Keep things that are important backed up in some way in general. It’s your insurance policy.

    3. Ryan Howard's White Suit*

      I just want to second this. When I was laid off I knew lay-offs were coming, but didn’t expect to be one of them. I had no access to anything after the conversation was over and that caused some stress.

      The only other thing I’d add is that if you have something on which you take notes, don’t throw that away in a fit of pique because you’re angry. I did, and some information I had on there (contacts, notes from interviews, etc) would have been super helpful in the job I got afterwards.

    4. Alternative Person*

      If you work has a lot of branding, take care to have non-branded versions of materials you make. For stuff you can’t have copies of, keep lists of boiler plate level relevant points/frameworks so if you need to create something after the fact, you can do so.

      Keep logs of relevant communication and avoid phone calls if possible (or follow up by e-mail). Keeping off the phone and to e-mail/texts saved my back when I had to go to the Labour Board regarding final wage payment.

    5. 30 Years in the Biz*

      Don’t forget hard copies if you have some. I had some old go-to references for my profession in a folder in a file drawer. I also had copies of all my monthly reports (with goals and accomplishments detailed) to my manager. I had used these to formulate my yearly self-appraisal. I knew they would come in handy for resume writing. I even had a table of all my passwords. When I felt a layoff coming I cleaned out my file drawer of obsolete paper and pulled all my reference/personal files and took them home. I left anything that contained my work product (property of my company) or company documents in the file drawer. The layoff didn’t come for a year and it was a surprise. I felt my office was clean – both of soft and hard copies. HR let me take my password sheet, no problem, as they had disabled my computer access when I was in the lay off meeting.

      1. SunnyD*

        A table of your passwords? Oh lord no. That’s something hackers can find, EASILY, if they get into the network. Never save passwords in excel, word, text files … And never on sticky notes!!

        Also don’t reuse passwords – that’s something hackers steal from poorly secured sites in order to catch people who reuse passwords, for important sites.

        LastPass, Dashlane, and 1Password. They are the safest option if you can’t remember 200 different passwords.

    6. Maxie's Person*

      When I was unexpectedly laid off and a few days later told that I was on my last day, I cried for ten minutes (I was at home) and then spent the next 90 minutes e-mailing personal stuff from my work files to my personal address until IT shut it down.

      I had been transitioning to WFH so the next day I had to bring back a crap load of their equipment and clear out my office –lots of paper to shred– and gather my personal stuff to bring home.

      When I knew I was going to leave another job as a long term temp the same day I gave notice, I took home everything personal in advance and had my coat and purse ready to leave. The idiots let me stay the whole day when I had access to all payroll and HR records for 5,000 employyes.

  5. Cube Ninja*

    Specific to unemployment benefits, make sure to check your state laws on when you can file. In some states, like Minnesota, you are not eligible for benefits in the week your employment ends. So if your last day was a Monday and you file immediately, you’ll be paid for that week, but the state will also come to ask you for that money back sometime down the road.

    Also worth noting that severance payments, depending on how they’re structured, may technically continue your employment for purposes of UI benefits. ie: You get 6 weeks of severance and you’re still “on payroll”, but not working. Depending on your specific scenario, you may not be able to collect UI concurrently with severance.

    And sometimes, even if you specifically delay filing for benefits, the state will send you half a dozen requests for information about when your employment ended and that you really, truly did not earn any money while you were unemployed. I’m not still annoyed about that at all. :)

    1. MissGirl*

      Yes, to these. When my company had layoffs employees weren’t allowed to file for unemployment until after their severance had run out.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        This is actually in the best interest of the employee in the end.

        Since you only have a set number of weeks of unemployment to draw on. So the longer you can wait to do so, with severance checks coming in, the bigger cushion to finding a new job you have. The idea is also so that the employer gets a little cushion so that maybe you’ll find a job in those 6 weeks and don’t take the unemployment rate ding.

        Hopefully that POV helps people see this as less of an annoyance of needing to wait it out. You’re not being punished.

        1. Flyleaf*

          I’m going to disagree with this. It’s better to get the money up front. Especially if you don’t use all your weeks.

          As for the employer and them taking a “ding,” that’s not something I would care about.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Sure. It’s best for you and anyone who can budget well.

            However others depend on a paycheck structure to keep them in line.

            This isn’t about you and how you personally operate, it’s to be beneficial to the majority of people, who aren’t like that at all.

            1. Flyleaf*

              But it also means more money. If you end up being unemployed for 16 weeks, but received 5 weeks of severance, waiting means receiving only 11 weeks of unemployment payments in addition to the severance. Filing immediately gives you the full 16 weeks of unemployment payments in addition to the severance. I’d rather have 16 checks.

              That being said, if you end up being unemployed for a long time and end up exhausting your state’s unemployment benefits, it could be a wash. But why take the risk of losing out on the full amount owed to you. If you have trouble budgeting, then put aside the UI checks received while getting severance, and don’t cash them until later.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                It’s not really about how people budget though. It’s that unemployment is only for the time period when you’re not getting paid. If you’re getting severance, they consider that your paycheck for that period.

        2. Maxie's Person*

          In my state, they start counting the time for UI when you file. It was in my best interest to wait until severence and unused vacation was paid out to file my claim.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        That always made logical sense to me — you’re still being paid during that time. The whole idea of unemployment is that it isn’t designed to kick in until you’re no longer being paid.

        1. Flyleaf*

          Unless the severance is consideration for signing a legal release. Even though you are getting paid what is essentially your salary, it is not salary so it doesn’t preclude you from receiving unemployment right away.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            In many states it does. Unemployment is to help you keep your housing, pay your bills, etc. If you’re getting severance, those states do consider it salary equivalent for that time period. (And nearly everyone who gets severance signs a general release.)

      3. Former Workforce Development Anon*

        Yeah, it’s always good to check with your local UI office about procedures in your state. Sometimes their computer system can handle applying during the severance period and won’t pay you for those weeks, but you can get an initial determination. Sometimes their systems can’t handle it.

    2. Former Workforce Development Anon*

      That would be a change in Minnesota practice in the last four years. When I worked in that department, you could file in the week your employment ends, and you would serve the waiting week and not get paid. The electronic system handled that just fine. You’re right about severance.

      Unemployment insurance isn’t a one-and-done you’re eligible or you’re not. You get initial eligibility– you were not let go for cause, you worked the proper number of hours, etc, etc. But once in the system, you are eligible on a weekly basis, only if you a) looked for work in that week, b) worked no more than the set number of hours in that week, c) etc. So you can be ineligible one week and eligible again the next. Which means, yes, you’re certifying to a lot of information. It’s a pain, but it’s how the law works.

      All of which, to bury the lede, is why I’d strongly suggest finding and reading the UI manual for your state while you’re waiting to hear about your job status. How often/when do you apply? How high are your state’s benefits? What will you have to send as proof and when? Have it all together just in case. And you can always call your UI department! They’re not going to give you a determination like “yes you’d be eligible” but they can answer questions like “what happens if I apply the day I’m laid off?”

    3. ThatGirl*

      I know Illinois has a “waiting week” where you basically can’t get UI until a full week of unemployment has gone by. But you can start the process right away.

      1. Aunt Vixen*

        In DC, the “waiting week” is the first week after you file – not the first week you’re not working. Which I learned when I thought “Oh, I’m not eligible until next week, so I’ll file then,” and *then* had to sit for a week. (This was in the recent furlough–as a contractor, I had to use leave before going on LWOP, and then the shutdown ended a week after my leave ran out. I ended up getting $0 in unemployment benefits. I reasoned that I didn’t actually need that money; I had one pay period where my check was only half-strength but otherwise was okay. Which I know was very lucky. Totally fine with leaving the UI money for those who can’t pay bills without it.)

        1. ThatGirl*

          Oh yes, that’s more accurate, it’s the same here. I just misspoke (er, mistyped).

    4. Flyleaf*

      In some states, you can get severance and unemployment simultaneously if your former employer makes you sign away your rights to sue. In that case the severance is seen as compensation for your signing the release, and not a continuation of your pay. Check your state laws.

      I had this happen to me in Massachusetts. My employer didn’t bring it up (it was a startup, so not very experienced), so I mentioned it and offered to sign a release in consideration for my severance. They accepted. That signature ended up getting me an extra 6 weeks of unemployment since it started the clock immediately rather than after the severance ran out.

      1. Aitch Arr*

        This has been my experience in Mass. as well, both as the one filing and the employer.

        Also bear in mind that UI is income, so be mindful of having taxes taken out. In Mass., you can choose to have them taken out at the time of payment, or at tax time.

    5. RainbowBrite*

      I’m getting laid off in Minnesota in a few months and oh boy were we not happy to find out about that week thing. I don’t even know when we’re getting severance. We’re pretty freaked out at the thought of not being able to get UI but not getting our severance for weeks.

  6. Tigger*

    Also note to add- Don’t cancel any pre planned trips (weddings, family vacations ect ) if you can help it. You will feel worse if your friends or family are enjoying something you were supposed to be a part of. Also if it is close enough to the trip you might not get your money back.

    1. Alternative Person*

      This! I was laid off six weeks before a big family visit and I was so glad to have that trip to look forward to. It was tight because I was pared back on incidentals but it was a breath of fresh air that I really needed.

  7. ThatGirl*

    I was laid off in 2017, and honestly, it’s kind of a crazy story*, but yeah, I had a lot of Feelings for awhile. Even though I was sure I would find a new job without a ton of trouble, I was worried about whether the intangible stuff would be as good – flexible schedule, commute, work from home days, etc. I was just anxious as hell for a few weeks.

    Well, after four months I found a better job, closer to home, that paid more, with a casual dress code and flexible work hours. And two years later I’m still here and moving into an even better role.

    *I was told on a Thursday afternoon – because I was leaving for a vacation the next day and had unbreakable travel plans – that the rest of my team was going to be notified on Friday morning that our jobs had been outsourced; 15 people laid off. I couldn’t tell anyone from work about it. I went home in a daze, made dinner, and discovered the water heater was broken as it flooded the laundry room. We cleaned up, turned off the water, went to my in-laws for the night and then went on vacation for a week and literally ran away from our problems.

  8. AlexandrinaVictoria*

    If you suspect a layoff is coming or you know one is coming in the near future and you have insurance: get your physical. Get refills for your meds for the next few months. Get your yearly eye exam and a dental cleaning if it is time for either of these. Take advantage of the insurance while you’ve got it.

    1. Shannon*

      Seconding this. COBRA is expensive. ACA can be expensive and you would have to start a new deductible.

      1. Jam Today*

        I got very lucky in my state, my ACA plan was less than half my COBRA payments, including dental. I couldn’t believe it when I did the comparison.

      2. 653-CXK*

        Same here. I rejected COBRA as soon as I was offered because it was mega expensive. The marketplace plan I had was over half that, and had just about the same benefits – the drawback was that I couldn’t access my doctors, so I had to go to another set of doctors that accepted it.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Absolutely make sure your prescriptions are filled for as long as they can, for a lot of stuff they give you a years worth of refills.

      Also check with GoodRX or pharmacy plans to see what your real cost is going to be when you have to pay out of pocket, so you aren’t blindsided when that pill that cost you nothing on insurance, costs you a hundred bucks or whatever it may cost. [You should have this info even if you don’t suspect a layoff and calculate it into your emergency fund tbh]

      1. Hangry*

        DRAIN. YOUR. FSA. Spend every dime possible. Stock up on band-aids, new prescription eyeglasses, 90-day prescription refills, anything allowable. You can spend your entire year’s election even if it’s week one of the plan year.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Oh yikes, I don’t have any knowledge of FSA’s but that’s good to know if anyone has one. Thank you for including it!

          If you have an HSA, you carry that with you regardless of if you’re employed or not. So if you can put money on there for prescriptions just to help you keep track of it and have it allocated, you should do that as well. The only bummer is you then have to carry the monthly account fees but mine are less than $5 thankfully. I left my job with my HSA attached almost two years ago and still use the money, it kind of makes me laugh a bit because I’m still using their money, bless their hearts.

        2. BRR*

          For an FSA, i believe it has to be spent while you’re still employed (The date of purchase/service, not the date you submit a claim) so get on that ASAP if your last day of employment is that day. I do believe while you have access on the first day of a plan’s year to the entire amount, the employer can come after any amount that has been spent but has not yet been deducted.

          1. Arielle*

            Yes. I did this with an old job where my date of service was while I was still employed but the supplier hadn’t submitted the claim until after I left so the FSA people called and gave me a hard time. I remember the agent tried to guilt me into retracting the claim by saying, “Well, it’s not really fair, is it? You haven’t paid into that fund for the full year yet and then you quit.” “But I’m entitled to spend it as soon as it’s in the account?” “Well, TECHNICALLY yes.” “Good enough for me!”

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              Oh ew ew ew they tried to guilt you. That’s so vile. I loath and have a special place where people who guilt others can go.

            2. Flyleaf*

              What’s even better is that you get the full year of FSA funds, even if you haven’t yet had the money deducted from your paycheck. If you are laid off on January 10, and have only had deductions for one paycheck, you can spend the full amount for the year.

              In some ways this is the opposite of the FSA’s “use it or lose it” policy (i.e., if you haven’t spent FSA funds by the end of the year, you lose the money, though there are some limited rollover options). In this case, you get to “spend it before you saved it.”

              1. NotAnotherManager!*

                I think it varies across types (medical v. dependent care v. qualified transportation expenses) – I know that I don’t get reimbursed on dependent care or QTE before it’s out of my check. It might be only medical FSAs where this is the case.

                1. Aitch Arr*

                  NAM is right – it’s only medical FSAs that will reimburse you upfront for the year’s full amount.

        3. wem*

          I did this.I spent it on the last day and got a $500 dollar pair of prescription sunglasses.

        4. Flyleaf*

          Agree 100%. One good option is to use Amazon’s new FSA/HSA store, where they bring together FSA/HSA eligible products and make it easy to buy using your FSA debit card. They have everything — I wasn’t aware that you could use FSA funds for sunscreen (SPF > 30), but apparently you can.

          There’s also the online company “HSA Store” if you are looking for an alternative to Amazon.

    3. Urdnot Bakara*

      Thirding (?) this. When I was laid off, the company was generous enough to cover my insurance for the duration of my severance period, but I was a low-level nonprofit employee. I couldn’t afford COBRA. I could barely afford ACA because we no longer qualified for one of the cheap plans. I had prescriptions to fill. So yeah, get done what you can while you still have coverage.

  9. Audiophile*

    I’ve been laid off a few times, and as I was interviewing afterward I was frequently asked how widespread the layoff was. Usually, I really didn’t and could only speculate. Is there a way to pose this question to your employer during the layoff conversation?

    1. Agent J*

      Why does the interviewer want to know how widespread the layoffs were? Is it curiosity or trying to nail down the reason for the lay off?

      1. Long Time Reader, First Time Poster*

        They want to know if you actually got fired. Sometimes companies will call a firing a layoff, but when it’s a layoff of one person it’s worth asking more questions to see if it was performance based.

        1. Audiophile*

          Yeah, I figured that’s what they were driving at. I was honest and just said I wasn’t sure how widespread the layoffs were, but since they’d often dig a little deeper upon my mentioning being laid off I figured they were trying to figure out if it was performance-based.

          I’ve definitely worked for companies that refused to fire people and instead laid them off, though those weren’t the jobs I was laid off from lol.

      2. TypityTypeType*

        Perhaps some interviewers think it says something about the candidate — they may want to know if, say, an entire department went away, or if the interviewee was one of a smaller group selected for layoffs. “Why you?” being the underlying question.

        1. Lucy*

          This would be a very common question in the UK for the equivalent procedure (redundancy) and it is preferable to be able to say “my entire division was relocated 250 miles” than “my team of 5 was reduced by 20%”.

          If a person had been through several rounds at different employers they would want to show it was pure bad luck and not underlying incompetence.

      3. SunnyD*

        Doesn’t every company provide a 60 page document listing the titles, genders, and ages of everyone who was laid off? (Maybe ethnicities too, it’s been awhile)

        It was interesting reading to try to beat back the panic and tears and keep it together.

    2. Long Time Reader, First Time Poster*

      I would definitely just ask — how many others are being laid off? And if you suspect discrimination in any way (ageism is a huge factor in layoffs — it’s very common to let the higher paid folks go and let the younger, lower paid people pick up the slack) you can ask for some documentation about it. At least in my state employers are required to share information about their layoffs — how many from what department, titles, and *age* of the laid off. (You can often put two and two together to figure out specifically who that was, if they won’t tell you outright.)

    3. That Would be a Good Band Name*

      I was asked that question too. I suspect they are trying to figure out if you were actually laid off or if your employer just agreed to call it that. They may also be trying to determine if callbacks are possible, although I don’t think I’ve ever seen that happen outside of manufacturing.

    4. ThatGirl*

      I guess I got lucky, when I was laid off I knew it was nearly all of my team, and I was provided with a list of people who had also been laid off – not names, but gender, age and title, which I guess was to head off any discrimination-based lawsuits. I thought that was interesting. And it did actually help a little to be able to say “I was laid off along with 15 other people on my team”.

      1. Gumby*

        Turns out, that was legally required. (Possibly dependent on state, size of employer, or whatever.) I had no idea it was even a thing until I read the article about IBM’s egregious treatment of older employees in which they somehow found a way to get around that requirement.

    5. Hangry*

      My employer included a document with severance papers detailing how many people in what position/gender/age group were laid off. I suspect this was a legal requirement, but I don’t know the criteria for providing it to those affected.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Having never been laid off, this has never crossed my mind but it does sound savvy for an interviewer to ask because a lot of people are “laid off” or “let go” softly due to performance and fit issues, since it’s not an egregious act classifying it as a layoff means they are able to collect unemployment and save face a lot of times and not be branded with that “Fired!” marker.

      I would say that if someone is giving you the “your job has been cut” speech, you are very much in the right place to ask if this is part of a big round of layoffs or if it’s your department/position, etc.

      The only time I laid someone off, it was due to downsizing. So just certain positions were eliminated, the people in them were awesome and it was awful making that decision needless to say. So if they asked what the cause was, we’d say just that “We’re eliminating this position and so far there are no plans to eliminate others but that will be redetermined if the business needs point it being necessary.”

      You’d also know if you weren’t in the first wave of layoffs, without asking. Then you could safely say “They’ve been downsizing staff for awhile now and it was my turn :(“

      1. Bagpuss*

        Even where there are genuine reasons for the lay offs, if the numbers being laid off are a small proportion of the people doing the job, then it can be relevant to why a specifc person was selected.
        If someone was one of 4 people laid off ffrom a ‘pool’ of 25 people doing the sale job, then it’valid to wonder why they were selcted, given that in most cases, employers will want to retian the best staff. On the other hand, if they were one of 22 people out of a pool of 25 who were laid off, or if an entire location or department was closed, then it is much less likley that the lay offs were an opportunity to get ridof the poor performers.

        (I’m in the UK, where redundnacy pay (severance) is legally required if people are made redundant, once ethey have been employed for 2 years or longer, and as the amounts payable are based on age and length of service, it’s generally more expnsive for the employer make employees redundant if they have been there for a long time or are older. If you have to lose either Anna or Bertie, and Anna has worked there for 12 years so is entitled to 12 weeks pay, and Bertie has been there for 3 years, so is entitled to 3 weeks pay, then assuming that they are broadly similar in terms of the skills , reliability etc, Bertie is probably out of luck, but if he was then asked about how wdespread the redundancies were e would be able to explian thathe was selcted on a ‘last in, first out’ basis, which doesn’t reflect on his skills)

    7. Flyleaf*

      They might be legally required to tell you. When I was laid off they gave me a list of everyone in the company, with names redacted, showing the employee’s title, age, and whether they were laid off.

      The document said: “Under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), employees over age 40 who are offered severance benefits in exchange for release of legal claims are entitled to receive certain information related to the program. This document provides that required information to you.”

      So, if you are over 40, they need to provide this information to you.

  10. Colette*

    I’d add that you should figure out your finances. How long will your savings last? What expenses can you cut? Are there ways you can bring in extra money (e.g. rent out a room) if you need it? How selective can you be when job hunting?

  11. altair7_4*

    Timely. I’m supposed to be laid off at the end of this week. Eliminating my position.

    I got 8 weeks notice of this layoff. I have been at this company 1 year. Prior to that I was 1 year with a small company that was acquired by this big company. They have reorganized and outsourced work so they have decided to lay several people off, including me. My tasks don’t look to be really getting outsourced but the coworker taking them over isn’t happy about how his workload is increasing. In the last several weeks one co-worker has left the dept for another dept in the company. My supervisor just announced she is retiring this month, no clue who is replacing her. A couple other coworkers are unhappy and probably job hunting elsewhere. This is a small department and it’s almost cut in half now.

    I’m ok with being laid off. I get 6 weeks severance pay. I’m thrifty and have resources to be ok for quite a while. I also would not be surprised if they called me back in a month or two as tasks slip further and further behind.

    1. Long Time Reader, First Time Poster*

      As a veteran of many layoffs, I think it’s almost always preferable to be laid off than it is to be left behind. Morale after a layoff is usually terrible and everyone is swamped.

  12. Mrs C*

    I was lucky when it happened to me, the facility being closed was large enough to fall under the WARN act (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act), which requires 60 days notice. Our company actually gave use 120 days, which was very fair of them and due to my length of service I got 12 weeks of severance. This gave me time to find a great replacement job. I also was able to start the new job AFTER my end date so for the first 12 weeks I was getting severance and full time pay. (I also had a manager that was either really nice or really inefficient and when they paid out my unused vacation time I got 6 weeks paid out. I went back and looked at my stubs for the year and realized he hadn’t charged my vacation bank for time the entire year. )
    It was still very scary to be told your entire department is being eliminated because the business model changed and the company you had worked with for 17 years, through 4 mergers and 4 moves, thought you were expendable. They didn’t make any attempts to find us jobs in their other divisions, so there was a lot of anger and hurt feelings. It is a grieving process that you have to move through quickly so you can be proactive. It had been so long since I had interviewed anywhere and the job market had changed a bunch from 1996 to 2013.

  13. Urdnot Bakara*

    How timely–we’re coming up on the 2 year anniversary of when I was laid off! After I was laid off, what really helped me was applying to temp agencies in addition to sending out regular job applications. My current (permanent) job was originally a temp-to-hire position.

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      When I was laid off eight years ago, my mom suggested I sign up with temp agencies (I had no idea what they even were), and I was able to score a new temp-to-hire position five weeks later (which was great because my two weeks severance was about to run out), which then turned permanent a year and a half later.

  14. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

    Really excellent timing considering my boss just scheduled an end-of-day “touch base” in a conference room across the building. This is definitely helpful as I prepare, just in case!

    1. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

      Question as I read through this: my company typically has offered “X number of months of pay” as the severance package. Are you eligible to apply for unemployment during this payout time, or do you need to wait until after? Would it be best to apply immediately, in case it takes awhile?

      1. BRR*

        I’m so sorry you might be going through this. I believe it will be determined locally. You can check with your local unemployment office, I wouldn’t go by what your company HR people say. If you get laid off, see if your severance/separation agreement includes anything about them not contesting an unemployment claim and if it’s not in there ask if it can be included. For unemployment, a good rule of thumb I’ve heard is always apply and always appeal if denied.

        1. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

          Thanks! Just trying to be as prepared as I can.

          Thankfully, though it does feel scary right now, this is what I’ve been hoping for – I’ve been planning to quit (just getting everything in order in my personal life) and the idea of job searching with income vs. without is obviously preferential. Still, it feels a little surreal that this might actually be happening.

          1. SunnyD*

            I posted above the questions on my layoff card I keep in my wallet. Search for my name.

          2. SunnyD*

            I posted above the questions on my layoff card I keep in my wallet. Search for my name.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I wouldn’t go by what your company HR people say.

          Dear lord, let’s scream this from the rooftops. Even in my case, where I always look out for the person’s best interest, you never know how much your HR team knows or let’s face it, cares, about a person being let go and the steps they go through afterwards. Always get another POV, especially if you can get one from the agency that is directly in charge of any given insurance plan. This includes health insurance, don’t depend on your HR team to get you answers, as the insurance provider yourself. I know you often feel most comfortable having your HR lead the way because they “know these things better” but no really, the phone tree game can greatly disappoint and lead to costly issues. [My insurance brokers have all drilled this into my head as well, since technically we’re not supposed to be giving out a lot of information, being you know, not insurance brokers but yeah, that doesn’t stop people who don’t know or just mean well from trying to help and messing things all up].

          1. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

            Good to know! Oddly enough, I work for a health insurance company, so I’d hope they’d know the plan, but I’ll get some second opinions from others if it happens – I know several others from my team who were laid off within the last year (it’s been a fun place to work) so I’ll chat with them.

          2. (Former) HR Expat*

            I cannot agree more! I’ve supported multiple layoffs throughout the years in various states and countries, since we often support multiple locations. There’s no way I would know all of the information for every state. I’m good at my job, but not THAT good.

            Also, I generally wouldn’t be able to answer questions about insurance other than end dates. Anything specific about coverage/costs/procedures is going to depend on the plan/provider that was selected and your individual circumstances. If it’s about process for paying premiums, I can help. If it’s about what’s covered under the plan itself, I’d have to refer you to the insurance provider.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Always apply for unemployment insurance immediately and let them lead the way. They will ask you about severance and if it was received, so that will be used on their end to calculate your benefits start date.

        It’s usually easier to apply and not worry about it than trying to talk to someone at the employment securities department, sadly enough. As you can imagine they’re understaffed just about everywhere as far as I’ve seen. The easiest way to get an employee to talk to you is by filing a claim. If it’s too early, you won’t be punished, you’ll receive the information saying “not eligible at this time” and you can go through the steps they lay out to refile.

        1. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

          Thanks! I wasn’t familiar with unemployment insurance, but I’ll look into it!

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Most folks aren’t, it’s one of those things that unless you’ve had to file before or you’re in an HR role, it’s rarely something you think about.

            Insurance in general is foreign to most, which is another reason why people hate it so much, it’s nonsensical in so many ways.

            1. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

              Oh man, SERIOUSLY. I’m not involved in anything related to our products but hearing the complexity of how it all works is boggling.

          2. Flyleaf*

            If you have to sign a release of claims in order to get severance, make sure you mention that when you sign up for unemployment. It could impact when your eligibility date starts.

    2. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

      Update! It was as I suspected – my position is being eliminated. They were very kind, they gave me the option to leave ASAP or stay on through August 1 to help with the shutdown or my role (my work is being basically eliminated, hard to explain) plus get insurance coverage through the month of August. They’re giving me the day off tomorrow to decide but I’m leaning towards August, as the coverage is nice and if I left tomorrow, I’d be getting nonstop calls from my external clients. This way I can cap things off and set up a transition person.

      Alison, your guide was so helpful! The comments I read were, too. I came in prepared with a list of questions about severance payout, PTO, etc. and that made me feel less emotional. On to the next big adventure, I guess!

      1. SunnyD*

        I’m so sorry to hear that. I’m glad you have a delayed option, so you can wrap things up, ask current coworkers to write you LinkedIn recommendations, and apply for jobs.

        One thing that surprised me was how much emotion I felt, and how long, about something I wasn’t surprised about. It was a good 6 months.

        1. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

          Thank you! I’m mostly sad to see what’s become of the work I was so proud of – it’s been a really terrible year and a half. I’m sure the emotion will come, but for now I feel pretty free.

      2. wristkiss*

        I’m sorry this happened to you. This happened to me today, too. This post by Allison is… weirdly well timed but very much appreciated.

        1. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

          Thank you – so sorry to you as well! Best of luck on your journey to your next role.

  15. LeNerd*

    Emergency fund! Having some reserves that you can tap into during a period of unemployment will give you oxygen to find the right next job.

    1. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

      Yes! I’m actually planning on relocating, so my house sale profit will be helpful once that happens, but thankfully I’ve been realizing this day was coming, so I’ve got a nice cushion saved up right now.

      1. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

        Woops, thought this was on my thread above – so now I’m just going to say, as someone who may be getting laid off, I second this :)

    2. Becky*

      For really the first time in my life I am now in a position where I can build up an emergency fund. Its a great feeling, except now I feel like I don’t know when it is appropriate to use that emergency fund.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        The key is to have two accounts. The emergency “if I lose my job” fund and your savings account “for big purchases/repairs/surprises” fund. Then you know that the emergency fund is literally only for if you cannot pay your rent, utilities or car payments [the things that are considered monthly expenses].

        An emergency fund is typically 4-6 months worth of monthlies. Untouchable unless fire starts falling from the sky kind of untouchable if you’re able to.

        Then the next amount you save is your savings account.

  16. Goose Lavel*

    I got laid off from a job that I had for 9 years on a Friday. I took that Friday off to move into my first ever home and asked a co-worker to let me know if I was on the list. Very stressful to have doubled my monthly housing cost just before big layoff that I didn’t know was coming.

    I did feel comforted by the fact I was due to get 3 weeks Severance for every year I’ve been there (27 weeks total). While going through the layoff paperwork the following week, I discovered I was only getting 3 weeks Severance due to the fact that the company had just changed their severance package just prior to the layoff.

    Almost lost the house after 2 months, but fortunately the company sent me a check for my 401k. I did have to sell the house within 6 months, but at least it was on my terms.

    I learned that I needed to have at least 4 living expenses saved for just this reason and it took me five years before I was able to have that amount saved.

    1. Corporate Cynic*

      The company changed their severance package just before they laid people off? Wow – that’s remarkably shitty….

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        It’s vile and makes me almost glad that they’re clearly in financial trouble, if they need to pinch pennies so tightly, that’s a sign of a ship sinking and they’re pitching out the bailing buckets overboard in their haste.

      2. SunnyD*

        My prior company did that, twice. It was what finally made me leave. It was really screwing the little people for profit.

        Btw, I planned to consult an employment lawyer to see how legal it is. You join a company with benefits laid out, it seems sketchy that they change them after you’ve agreed to the terms. (Not that Americans have employment rights, but somehow those with lawyers seem to have more rights.)

  17. The New Wanderer*

    I think some of the advice is different depending on the type of layoff. I’ve only been laid off from very large companies with well defined policies on severance, vacation/sick/PTO payout, COBRA insurance, and company-supplied unemployment guidance (resume workshops, UI information, financial planning, extended EAP benefits).

    In one case I had WARN notice of 60 days so I was able to change my 401k/company savings plan to put more money into my checking to increase my savings buffer. I coasted on the severance (1 wk/year of service) and filed for unemployment just as that ended. This stretching of the severance/UI worked out for me because I did not get a new job for almost 18 months (niche field, geographically constrained) and my husband was employed that whole time.

    In interviews, I was asked a few times why I left my previous job after it was obvious by employment dates that I was currently unemployed, not looking to leave a job. Nobody pushed back about the layoff aspect, although my company’s major layoffs are always national news including the one that got me. (The only people who seemed to conflate layoff with being fired were relatives unfamiliar with the process and convinced that if I had just shown more gumption I’d have been safe.)

    I returned to my previous company last year. I had struggled a lot with feeling that my career was over, that I would have to switch fields, take a massive pay cut, lose my flexibility, not getting interviews for months, seeing perfect jobs I couldn’t apply to b/c too far away, etc. etc. It was really hard, any kind of unemployment is really hard. Getting my job back (in a different department, *much* better fit and opportunities) helped my mental state, obviously, but I did find myself getting bitter again when talking about it to some close coworkers who’ve known me for years. Taking care of yourself, reminding yourself that it’s not a reflection on you or your performance, is key. I didn’t realize how emotionally invested I was in having the role I did until it was gone. It was hard to come to terms with that.

  18. Anchee*

    I recently accepted an early buyout package from my employer, a generous severance package. I was surprised it was taxed at a flat 22%, higher than the withholding I was used to. It was enough of a difference to have a real monthly impact. No one mentioned it, I would have loved a warning.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      If you receive a lump sum payment, ever, it’s going to be taxed at a higher income bracket. They have no way of knowing it’s a “one time” payment, so they assume it may happen regularly when they calculate your tax estimate.

      This is why “OT” pay can often make people think that they don’t “Get anything but higher taxes” in the end. However if it’s not regular, if it is a one time thing, it’s going to shake out in your tax refund. Which yeah, it’s not going to help you now and that stinks big time on a personal level.

      Just as an FYI for the future, this is what happens because taxes are estimated as though you’re going to receive that check again and again since it’s typically the case. Same with if you win the lottery for $10,000, even if you have poverty level income, they’re going to tax the Ef outta it like you were making 10k regularly. Then you file the paperwork for that tax season and they adjust.

      1. Anchee*

        I did not take a lump sum. I continue to receive biweekly pay and it’s taxed at the higher rate.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          That’s…bizarre and not the normal way of doing it. You said there was a buyout portion, was that part a lump sum? Then you continued to get the severance checks? That buyout may have boosted you into the higher tax bracket.

        2. Artemesia*

          ultimately you will pay the % in your tax bracket — there is no unique higher taxing for this type money.

          1. Anchee*

            I never received a lump sum, just pay continuation for the agreed upon time period. I questioned the payroll team and they said that’s how they withhold tax for severance. I suppose it will shakeout come tax time next year.

        3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I wonder if it was because they switched systems…and it wasn’t coming out of payroll anymore. So they weren’t going by your W4 withholding request? So if you were withholding with 2 exemptions, which is pretty standard if you’re single and not supporting anyone, theyr’e withholding at 0 exemptions that would make the withholding higher as well.

  19. Former Workforce Development Anon*

    For those in the US, especially those who might be interested in changing careers, you can and should check on the availability of Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funding in your state. It may go by different names or be housed out of different agencies, but usually your Unemployment Insurance website will have a link to it. (You can also search “American Job Center” or “Workforce Center.”)
    These are federal funds available to anyone considered a dislocated worker– laid-off workers are the biggest group. Different states use the funds in different ways. One of the core ways is providing job seeker services– resume help, job banks, etc– which can be of… uh… varied quality (unless you really want a training on how to use Linked-In). None of which sounds like a great incentive, which is why a lot of people don’t bother to apply.
    But if the program determines you’re eligible for re-training, you can get access to training funding and direct support services. Sometimes, you can get a certificate or software training program paid for, or a CDL, or even finish an AA. And “direct support services” can extend to things like money for food, car payments, interview clothing, your mortgage.
    And if you were laid off due to trade factors– for instance, your job was sent to another country– you can see if you’re eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance. (The rules on that are arcane, you kind of need a WIOA counselor to walk you through it.) That unlocks more intensive training– TAA benefits have paid for master’s degrees in some cases.

  20. (Former) HR Expat*

    Also see if your company offers outplacement support (resume reviews, interview training, etc). A lot of larger companies will work with providers who offer this support, and it can be pretty good.

  21. Jessen*

    A note on vacation payout: check your employee handbook as well! At least in some states, employers may be obligated to pay out vacation if they state in their handbook that they do, even if they are not obligated to do so in general. (The legal argument being essentially that by putting it in the handbook, they made it part of your compensation package and are thus legally bound to pay it.)

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is also why it’s helpful to be close with your coworkers and keep your ears open whenever possible and know if there is a precedent of vacation payout as well.

      If you don’t have it in the handbook but you know that Jimmy, Johnny and Saul all got paid out when they were laid off or quit, etc. Then you have a leg to stand on as well. They can play around all they want but if there’s a history there and no policy saying otherwise, that’s enough to get paid out a lot of times. Then if they do try to play the ‘Oh we’re not doing that any more” card, you can go ahead and have a lawyer start digging around to see if they’re acting in a discriminating manner if you are a protected class.

      [Yeah you can bend rules all you want but if you are found to be bending them and benefiting certain classes of people, that’s a little settlement sitting there waiting to be collected by the person who digs deep enough into their shenanigans.]

  22. Grand Admiral Thrawn Is Still Blue*

    Well this is timely, since I was let go July 1. They wouldn’t tell me anything at all, but I truly believe that the heart of this was the pastor didn’t like how much money I made. First he took my overtime, then the job itself. And of course my healthcare vanished. So I guess it was really a layoff? He refused to even tell me that much.

  23. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

    I was laid off from OldJob 8 years ago. 2 and half years prior to my layoff, our Company was taken over by another (Red Flag). So what I did was started saving a little MORE money. I’m glad I did that because by the time I was laid off, I had enough money put away to cover my COBRA costs and other expenses.

  24. notMichelle*

    I got laid off for the first time back in mid December (literally the day before my birthday) and I really second taking a few days to mope. After a few days though – get back out there. Use all the resources that you have available. Within a month, I thankfully found a job that paid more, less stress, had better benefits overall, but a meh commute. I actually used a temp staffing agency and got a job through them (technically, with them).

    I’m not gonna lie, I’m still a bit annoyed by it even though I’m in a way better place. Like, I like my job right now, there’s actual room for growth, and I’m able to develop more skills now than I was in the last place. Plus, I should have seen it coming. Many of my tasks were being automated and simplified (through the automation that I helped to create) so that interns can do that work. Like I said, I’m still annoyed, but I’m actually grateful for it. I was starting to feel like I wasn’t needed any more and I think I went into a depression episode so I just felt kinda stuck. It sounds a little weird, but writing out what I had done and accomplished and then talking about in interviews helped boost me back up again. I’m trying to keep that sort of mentality up by keeping a journal of my accomplishments so far in my position so that I can refer back to them if needed.

  25. Collingswood*

    If you end up job searching for an extended period of time, I’d also recommend not spending all day looking for jobs. I definitely hit a point of diminishing returns. Take some time to work out. It will help your mood and you may as well take advantage of the unexpected free time.

    1. 653-CXK*

      When I was job searching, I dedicated two hours a day looking for and then applying to jobs if I wasn’t interviewing that day. After that was free time. Doing things that I couldn’t do while at ExJob – errands, tours, and hobbies – due to time constraints also helped a lot.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Definitely don’t spend “all day” at the job search! But on the other hand, it pays to be persistent. So, whatever works best for you, 2 hours a day, or 2 days a week, but be consistent. And then go do something active to take care of yourself.

  26. Martin*

    Some employers (usually large) will allow you continue with their group life insurance coverage if you pay the full premium, which was in my case still lower than buying my own, plus I didn’t have to go through underwriting.

    If you feel like the company is strong it can be worth it. Mine was strong, they simply centralized all people in my job code to a few locations and if you didn’t want to move and there weren’t comparable positions at your location you were laid off.

  27. Radio Girl*

    Once you’ve been laid off, it’s a good idea to incorporate daily exercise into your routine; those endorphins will help keep your spirits up. Walking is cheap!

    Also, use free time to accomplish some personal projects so you will have a feeling of accomplishment, in addition to the satisfaction you get from applying for jobs.

    Keep in touch with friends who are not part of your professional network, too.

  28. TPS Cover Sheet*

    This is an UK – specific one, but get another bank account. Then when your dole money starts coming in, dirsct it to that account. Not because of any shenanigans you are going to pull off showing the jobsworths how poor you are on universal credit, but apparently the banks put you on a blacklist after seeing DWP deposits on your account. Got shafted by this after getting a job in another town and then after the probation ended, instead of commuting and living out of hostels decided on moving. And having to cough up a deposit I wanted a bit of flexibility but my overdraft was denied, and they told me it was due to this. Poisons the well for six months after you get your last dole payment.

    1. TPS Cover Sheet*

      Oh, and JobsworthCentre+… if you’ve never been or it’s been a while, brace yourself. It is like going to the KGB. Phones are an anathema, so bring a paperback. When you go for your interview, remember there is no excuse to miss one – especially a job interview is not an excuse to miss one. Remeber not to think, hope, wish, intend or anything that might give them an excuse to not pay. They do have a discretionary fund, but say you need to go for an interview in the city tomorrow, don’t expect them to refund the ticket as you were supposed to get them to approve it first. They might give you a voucher for shoes and a suit though, depends. Oh and get a few of those grey books and remember to fill them in meticulously of your jobsearch. And brace yourself giving excuses why you didn’t apply for that job their system assigned you… always apply for them.

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