Graduated Learning: Life after College

I got my degree, I got a job…now what?

I got laid off…now what? May 6, 2008

Yep, you read it here first folks. I got laid off. Thank that beautiful economy of ours, I guess. But now that I’m unemployed, what do I do?

Be thankful for the emergency fund

Remember that emergency fund that every personal finance guru, blogger, author, etc. tells you about? You’ll be very relieved when you find out you have that nice cushion to fall back on. And really, that whole “pay yourself first” idea really works. I never noticed the money was gone (every month I had an automatic transfer over to my ING account), and now that I need it, it’s sitting there waiting for me to draw from when I need to.

Take care of the transitions

Depending on what your severance package provides (or if you didn’t get one at all), you’ll probably look at a few things. Did you get any severance pay? Congratulations. Stash that into your bank account ASAP, and be thankful that your company was nice enough to help you out there. My company did provide some severance pay, but a friend of mine got laid off recently and got pretty much next to nothing. It’s really dependent on your company.

What are you going to do about insurance? Again, some of this depends on your company; they may immediately stop paying the premiums for your insurance, or provide you a grace period. Either way, you should learn about the COBRA. This is where you are given the opportunitiy to continue your insurance plan, but you must pay the premiums, at up to 102% of the cost. Many people can just find alternate, often cheaper plans that still cover their needs. Depending on your state, you might be required to have insurance (which is the case in Massachusetts). From what I’ve heard, if you don’t elect to continue through COBRA, but then something happens and you need insurance, you can retroactively get it taken care of. Don’t quote me on that, I’m looking into it.

Were you enrolled in a 401(k) or similar program? If so, you have a few options that I know of. They are summarized rather nicely in Get Rich Slowly’s page. I am most likely going to either roll my 401(k) over into an IRA, or, if I find new work soon enough and it’s a feasibility, I will move my 401(k) to my new company’s 401(k). What I will NOT do, and I don’t recommend you do it either, is cash out my 401(k). You have to pay a penalty, and taxes right then for your money, and now you are back to square one with your retirement planning.

And if you had an FSA account (I did), you’re probably going to have to just submit the rest of your claims ASAP, and lose any money that you didn’t spend. I guess this wasn’t something I considered when I initially signed up, but I guess that’s something to think about…how quickly you’ll spend the money in your account. I’m not sure what happens if you spent more than you accumulated, if you have to pay back the extra. I’ll have to check on that as well (for you guys, not for me).

Looking ahead

It’s rough, but it’s time to get back out there! Let your friends know that you are looking. I went ahead and listed it on my facebook profile…which worked out nicely, because a friend saw that and offered to talk to someone in his company that works in my desired area of research. Having good friends willing to help you out is definitely a plus. This is not the time to start networking with people you’ve casually met in the past…hopefully you’ve been networking all along…of course, if you haven’t, you might as well start now! It just looks a little fishy when you suddenly talk to someone you sort of know who can help you find a job. But don’t be afraid to. Update your profiles on your social/business networking sites, and confirm that the available information and connections is accurate and represents you in a positive light. My next step is to look at companies that interest me, and then determine if I have a personal connection to that company, either through friends or through my alumni network.

In the meantime, I’ve also started looking at the assorted job posting sites out there, like monster.com and career builder. There are plenty of others that I’m looking at, and if you want, I can post those, too, though I’m not sure how popular of a site they all are.

Well, hopefully you aren’t all in the same boat as me. Let me know what you’ve found helpful, or if you’re looking for information that I didn’t include, since I probably just omitted it for no useful reason.

[Edit: I forgot to mention applying for unemployment. There's a good overview here, and for Massachusetts, you can find out how to file claims and such here. If you have trouble navigating that site, let me know. I managed to figure it out.]

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12 Responses to “I got laid off…now what?”

  1. Yikes! That’s a bummer. I hope you get to enjoy some of this nice weather and find a new job soon!

    Also, thanks for the info in the FSAs. I never thought of that!

  2. Stephanie Says:

    Yeah, it doesn’t seem right with the FSA money, but the point is moot for me because the day I got laid off, I went to a doctor, so I’ll be able to use my money on that.

    Thanks Tough Broad, I am definitely taking advantage of the weather! Doing job searches outside…

  3. Debbie Says:

    I was notified yesterday of my layoff, also due to the economy, exit interview is today. I have found several books on Amazon that seem good when downsized. Hope to use this time to figure out what I REALLY want to do in my life! Good luck to You!!!!

  4. cbpotts Says:

    You talk about books that are good after you’ve been laid off — one that helped me is RIches in Niches, by Susan Friedmann. She got downsized out of her job and went into her own business, and she talks about how to do it yourself.

    She’s into marketing and so I wasn’t sure if it would help me — I’m in media — but the techniques are really good. It helped me build a little bitty business into something not great, but growing! So if you’re interested in self employment at all, I’d check it out.

  5. Forest Says:

    Sorry to hear that you got laid off and I hope you find a new job soon – just keep your head up! I just wanted to say thanks for commenting on my blog, I really appreciate it. I’m looking forward to reading about where you go from here. Good luck!

  6. [...] for my other transitions (since I got laid off), I’ve filed for unemployment and been informed of how much I’ll be earning each week, [...]

  7. Patrick Says:

    Sorry to hear you got laid off. I’ve never been laid off, per se, but when I left the military, I did so without a job lined up and it took me about 6 months to find a new one. I collected unemployment for awhile, which helped. Other than that, I kept expenses low and lived on what I had. (I had been preparing for about a year, so I had a sizable emergency fund).

    The best thing you can do is start looking immediately. Tap into your social network, contact your alumni association, look on Monster and Career Builder, and no matter what, remain positive. It’s easy to get into a funk when it seems like you won’t find anything. You will; it just might take time.

    And I don’t care what anyone else says, looking for a job is a full-time job! I wish you the best. :)

  8. SavingDiva Says:

    Good luck finding a job! I hope everything works out….I’m sure this has to be extremely stressful for you.

  9. [...] many of you may know, I got laid off back at the end of April.  There was plenty to figure out about my situation, even without thinking about finding a new [...]

  10. Steph Says:

    i got laid, now what?

  11. [...] Federal and State).  I don’t think that’s too bad.  With so many changes in 2008 (lose one job, collect unemployment, get a new job), it would have been hard to get a good prediction on my [...]

  12. [...] I’m not a professional financial adviser or career coach, but I’ve learned a lot about surviving a layoff, and the transitions and decisions that come with it.  Plus I might have some advice on finding a [...]


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