You've been pink slipped. The axe dropped. However you choose to refer to your layoff, it's now time to put your game face on and get back on your feet. If you have a severance package you may have time to take a break, hit the beach and find yourself. However, for the rest of you, check out the following tips:
1. Talk to management. Discuss the reasons for the layoff and barring any unforgivable issues around performance, discuss alternative options to maintain your employment. This may include taking a pay cut, starting work on a new project or taking on work as a consultant or independent contractor. Reiterate your desire to be a team player and that may secure your position with the company.
2. Announce your new employment status to your network. LinkedIn and Facebook are great ways to get the word out to your professional and personal social networks. Your friends, family members and professional contacts will now know to be on the look out for a position that might fit your needs. Want to keep this private? Don't. You may be feeling less than confident about your recent lay off, but now is the time to dust off the pity party and allow others to help you transition into a new job.
3. Part-time jobs rock. Take on a part-time job until you can swing a full-time gig. This may mean approaching a staffing agency to work temporarily or on a part-time basis while you wait for a full-time position to materialize. Sometimes these positions lead to full-time opportunities that you had no idea existed. The part-time job also allows you to generate some income while you explore other options.
4. Network! Hate networking? Well, now is the time to shake the anxiety and allow your résumé to speak for itself. Don't beg for a job to the first stranger you meet at an industry mixer, but handing out résumés might help you stand out. Someone you meet may have a hand in recommending you for a position, and now that he or she talked to you in person, the employee can speak to who you are, even if on a limited basis.
5. Slash expenses. During a layoff, you can't afford to splurge. What should you cut from your now meager budget? Start by asking yourself, "Is this purchase necessary?"
--Eating out. You should under no circumstances be dining out if you've lost your job and have no income coming into your hands. Eating out is a no-no as you should be sticking to eating at home on a low budget. To save when grocery shopping, stick to generic brands, and avoid buying expensive red meat.
--Hair salon. Do I really need to explain this? Get a hair dryer and your favorite shampoo and conditioner and make it work! YouTube videos offer a lot of advice around how to style your hair sans a salon visit.
--Cellphone. If you have a laptop and regular access to Wi-Fi (via the local library, Starbucks or McDonald's) then you don't need a cellphone. With Google Voice and Skype, you can easily make phone calls to prospective employers. If you have to have a cellphone then SafeLink may be an option, since it provides 250 free minutes every month to those who are eligible based on income. If you decide to have a cellphone, remember to use it responsibly; keep your phone calls to a minimum and, whenever possible, send texts or emails.
--Car. If you have access to buses and subways then give up the car. There's expenses such as gas, insurance and repairs that you don't absolutely need right now. Sell it and relieve yourself of the monthly expense. Opt for a bike share program or using a car-sharing service like Zipcar when necessary.
--Makeup/hair supplies. You'd be surprised what you can live without when you're dead broke. I know some of you must have your make-up and hair, but I won't tell you yes on this one. Mascara, eyeliner and lip gloss, sure. But a full run at the Mac cosmetics counter? Nope.
--Health care. If you need to go to the doctor and can't afford health insurance, a federally-funded health center is a great option. This is often missed when discussing alternatives to health insurance. At the health centers sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, you pay what you can afford based on your income. These centers provide check ups, treatment when ill, immunizations, dental care, prescription drugs, prenatal care and mental health support.
Being pink slipped can be daunting at first, but if you're determined to get back on your feet, the these tips may help you return to employment. This is also an opportunity to engage in some introspection around your career trajectory. Are you happy? If not, use this time to chart your next career path. Are you happy where you are professionally? Great. Get out there and show everyone why they'd be lucky to hire you.
Ginger Dean is a licensed psychotherapist and founder of the personal finance website Girls Just Wanna Have Funds.
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