The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
What You Can Do When You Get Laid Off
There is nothing worse than getting laid off, especially if you are the first one to be let go, as I was. Here is how it happens: You might start seeing Human Resources personnel in the office a lot more than usual, having meetings, doing certain things that do not usually happen. It is almost as if they are preparing for something. Then it happens… they call you into the conference room and they give you the news as best as they can.
They say lines like, “We have nothing against you, but we are downsizing our company, and you are among the people we have to let go.” They usually offer a deal, normally between a severance package and unemployment, and help with resume writing, and sometimes assistance in finding another job. You fight to hold back the tears, and while you may be upset and angry with the people sitting across the desk from you, usually the order came to them, but they themselves may have not actually made the decision. Unfortunately, when it comes to hiring and firing, someone must be the face of the company.
Getting back to the deal offered, the option may be that if you choose the severance package, you are willing to be let go, and on paper, it looks like you quit your job. However, if you take the unemployment option, the company must fire you in order for you to be able to collect unemployment. You cannot, however, claim both, as the company may deny you unemployment. Which should you choose if given the option?
You must weigh the options: If you take the severance package, you leave the company peacefully, and you consider your time there an experience that you had and you moved on. There is nothing more to do except begin your process over of looking for a new job. If you take the unemployment option, you are fired, and while you can certainly can tell future jobs that you were laid off, you are allowed to collect unemployment for anywhere from 6 months to a year, but are expected to be looking for and getting a job within that allotted time.
If you are working two jobs, you may already know it is best to take a severance package, as you would get denied by unemployment immediately. If, however, it was your only job, and you do not have additional savings, you must take into consideration the number of weeks it may take you to find a new job, as well as how much the severance package pays out. If you really cannot afford to take the severance option, unemployment may be for you.
In almost all instances, the Human Resources Department has already been cleaning out your desk and will likely refuse to let you return to your desk, and attempt to keep you from speaking to all other employees at the office. They may have a security guard or a supervisor escort you out of the building, to ensure that you peacefully leave. If you are lucky, they will let you go on a Friday, but in some situations, the day does not matter.
The situation I described above did personally happen to me, when a company refused to update its computers and technology, and because of this, I was the first to be let go, along with one other person that day. I chose the severance package, as I did have a second job lined up, which I ended up getting hired for soon enough, and filing unemployment would have been a tedious process, so instead, I was paid for an additional three weeks after I was let go, on top of the paycheck I was making at my other job.
As I was let go, I fought to hold back tears, wanting badly to warn my coworkers of what was coming to many of them, but I was calmly escorted out of the building. It took me a few days to recover, wanting to head into work, as I had done all year, but then reality would hit me, and I came to focus on the realization that I no longer worked at that job. After a few weeks, there came a sense of freedom, that I would soon find another job again.
Several months later, almost every other employee was let go, save for two or three. Almost a year after that, one of the few remaining employees, who was my co-worker, not a supervisor or manager, contacted me to see if I was interested in being rehired, to which I immediately turned down, having no interest in working for a company that, instead of exploring its options, felt that letting its employees go was the best option.
There is nothing you can do when you get laid off, told that you are no longer needed, except to see it as an opportunity to work at a better place. Accept that it is inevitable in most of our fields, that due to budget cuts, funding issues, or position elimination, you may be the person the company lets go of first. It is okay to cry for a day or two, but after that, the best thing you can do for yourself is to recover, start looking for other jobs, update your resume, figure out what skills you possess, and learn and develop new skills until the day comes when you get an interview and a new job again.