This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Practical Wisdom for the Unwillingly Unemployed
by Duane Morin
Survive The Layoff
Survive The Layoff © 2008 Duane Morin All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, forwarded to a third party, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author. http://www.commutesmarter.com/ This publication contains the opinions and ideas of the author. It is intended to provide helpful and informative material on the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the author and publisher are not engaged in rendering professional services in this publication. The author and publisher specifically disclaim any responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk, personal or otherwise, which is incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any of the contents of this publication. One or more illustrations © 2008 Microsoft Corp.
© 2008 Duane Morin
http://www.commutesmarter.com – It's your time, why waste it?
Survive The Layoff
Table of Contents
Introduction/About the Author Section 1: Be Prepared Understand That It’s Not Your Fault Know How Your Cash Flows How’s That Emergency Fund? Postpone Vacations Get What’s Coming to You Why You? Section 2: Get Your House in Order Time to Organize Stay Insured Hello, References? I Need You ASAP is Not An Acceptable Timeline Using Outplacement Section 3: Money Management How to Not Lose the House The Dreaded “B” Word Goodbye, Big Expenses Don’t Nickel and Dime Yourself Don’t Fall for Unemployment Myths Track Your Expenses It’s Just Temporary Section 4: Search Effectively Get the Offer, Then Decide Network, Network, Network Practice Your Interview Skills Take the Search Seriously Thank-You Notes Section 5: Don’t Panic! Beware the Honey-Do’s Free Time is Not Wasted Time Become Do-It-Yourselfer Get Out and Talk To People Learn Some New Tricks Know What You Want 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33
© 2008 Duane Morin
http://www.commutesmarter.com – It's your time, why waste it?
Survive The Layoff
So you’ve been laid off, or maybe you’ve just got a hunch that your team is next on the chopping block. Got your emergency fund together? Signed up for unemployment? Thought about what you’re going to do with your free time? Survive the Layoff offers you a list of things to think about from the time the rumors start flying until the day you wake up with no job. Layoffs are a sad but true part of the working world these days. Open the newspaper and you’ll see announcements of hundreds or thousands of people about to join your fate. You’re certainly not alone. This e-book will be most useful for professional (white collar) workers. While it was written by a former high-tech employee, much of the information you encounter should be helpful no matter what kind of job you have (or had), or what industry/employment segment you’re targeting for your job search.
About the Author Duane Morin had a great job when he got married, bought a house and started a family. Then he got laid off. He wrote this ebook based on his own experience, and used its tips and techniques to find a great new job.
Losing your job is a life-changing event. Naturally your first concern is to find a new job. It’s also the time when people worry about money and start pinching pennies. Or, you might be optimistic enough to look ahead and wonder what to do with all your newfound free time. This e-book addresses all these things and more. Perhaps the most important lesson is to keep the right attitude. Surviving the layoff does not mean blindly grabbing the first job that comes along. It means recognizing this time for what it is – a transition period, and a time to take stock of where you’re at, where you want to be, and how to start taking steps in the right direction.
© 2008 Duane Morin
http://www.commutesmarter.com – It's your time, why waste it?
Survive The Layoff
Understand That It’s Not Your Fault
If you’re reading this book, chances are you’ve either been laid off or you’re expecting it soon. Either way, there’s something important you need to know: It’s not your fault. Getting laid off isn’t like quitting (which you do voluntarily) or being terminated (where presumably you know the reason for your dismissal). Layoffs happen to people for no other reason than their department is bigger than the new manager thinks it should be, or is in the wrong geographical location. Why you? Your team had twenty people on it and they laid off five, so why did one of them have to be you? It could be any number of reasons: • Your seniority with the team is less than others’. • Your technical specialty is no longer required. • Your department is moving to another state. • Your whole team is being reorganized out of existence in waves. The odds are very good that the reason is not because you’re bad at your job.
When the layoffs started, I naturally got all nervous. My boss took me aside and told me not to worry, that I would still be around as long as there was a team. About nine months later, sure enough, there’s no team any more and I’m looking for work. But at least I felt better about it not being something I did wrong.
Alex San Francisco, CA
So if you’re feeling a little bummed out, like you’re somehow no longer valuable, stop it right now. That attitude is not going to get you anywhere. You need to approach being laid off with the right frame of mind. You are going to get another job. Until that happens you’re going to make the best of your time off. Sure, you didn’t plan to take a vacation right now, but like it or not you’re going to wake up one morning without a job. You can either freak out and panic, or you can smile and enjoy it. The second approach is a better idea.
© 2008 Duane Morin
http://www.commutesmarter.com – It's your time, why waste it?
rather than the other way around. and now is not a time to be dishonest with yourself. Count up the salaries of all the breadwinners in the house. and any other money coming in.commutesmarter. If you have any potential sources of income. round your expenses up. but do your best. Take a hard look at your situation and be brutally honest with the numbers. The easy part is income. and the foundation for all of your financial planning while unemployed. Knowing your cash flow is the first step toward regulating it. Interest. Harder to determine is where the money goes.Survive The Layoff Know How Your Cash Flows The most important thing to do right now (preferably before you lose your job) is to understand where your money goes. Get together all of your monthly bills and calculate an average cost where appropriate. because doing it wrong at this point will reduce the usefulness of everything else going forward. Cash flows in two directions. even if you don’t count them as part of your current cash flow. why waste it? . then write those down now. If you have to factor in bonuses or other non-monthly money. This is not a budget. such as a spouse going back to work. This can be tricky for seasonal bills like oil heating. It’s better to assume that you will spend a certain amount per month on household utilities and actually spend less.com – It's your time. When in doubt. try to calculate an average monthly income. Dividends Rental property income Pensions and Social Security Other $ / month Description of Expenses Rent/mortgage Food Utility bills Car Entertainment Hobbies Loans Child care Total monthly expenses $ / month Total monthly income © 2008 Duane Morin Page 6 http://www. Simple Cash Flow Worksheet Description of Income Salary Investments.
Banks sometimes allow you to partition a single savings account with different named areas.com – It's your time. start cutting back on your expenses and putting the extra right into the bank. The sooner you get started. You can’t start saving on the day after you get laid off. so don’t be surprised when that final check is far less than you expected.commutesmarter. If you have some investments. Tip Once you’ve got your emergency fund. If you belong to a credit union.Survive The Layoff How’s That Emergency Fund? Good rule of financial management—keep some money in the bank. It’s even more tempting if your fund is growing while you’re still working. Every little bit will help. How much? Brace yourself. Saving is always a good idea. so ask your bank if this is available before opening up a whole new account. Hopefully you discovered that your expenses are less than your income. such as “new car” or “emergency fund. if it’s coming to you. please! © 2008 Duane Morin Page 7 http://www. but once you find yourself with time on your hands and a list of house improvement projects to tackle. why waste it? . Out of sight. but three to six months’ living expenses is a good target. The difference should go into savings. If you’ve got your cash flow and budget in order. you might consider cashing them out and moving the money over to your emergency fund where it is not at risk. and it will take some time to build up the kind of funds that you need to live on. No buying stocks with your emergency fund. you might be tempted to dip into this fund. This might sound obvious. They pay good interest rates and are usually more difficult to get at than any old ATM machine. move it to another account if you’re tempted to spend it. that’s perfect. Don’t listen. because you’ll start hearing a little voice in your head trying to tell you this money is just being wasted sitting there. the better. This money will be taxed.” Keeping the money together like this sometimes can get you higher interest rates. That could provide a large chunk of your target. Use your cash flow worksheet to determine how much you really need every month. Don’t just estimate your monthly salary. Don’t forget to count severance pay. out of mind. Save what you can. If you still need to save even more. don’t panic. Don’t spend it.
© 2008 Duane Morin Page 8 http://www. Once you are heavily into the job search and trying to return phone calls and schedule interviews. everybody is going to be unhappy.commutesmarter. this really only applies if you have a very good idea that you’re going to lose your job. then obviously don’t waste it. If you end up putting off a vacation for a year. if your company has “use it or lose it. When the heads start to roll. On the other hand. On the flip side. this can work to your advantage and increase the amount of money that’s owed to you when you are laid off. Just because you have the money doesn’t mean you are obligated to spend it. you’ll want to avoid becoming unreachable for long periods of time.Survive The Layoff Postpone Vacations If you’re still employed and have a vacation planned. After all. That week’s vacation pay will be more useful going into the bank. Don’t be paranoid—be realistic. Only now. If you’re committed to your plans and have non-refundable money put into them. you do want to concentrate at least a little bit on not spending money. you’re actually ahead of the game. The idea is to save money.” then you’ll need to assess your own risk about being out of the office during unstable times. If you won’t enjoy a vacation because you’re too stressed. but fear for the security of your job. no one is paying you for your time anymore. not blow it! Tip What is your company’s policy on unused vacation? If it rolls over at the end of the year. so take some extra time and see about getting a less expensive airfare. Last thing—take your vacation sooner rather than later. why waste it? .com – It's your time. since you received your vacation pay as cash in hand. if you can. A few reasons: If you do get laid off. Also. you might want to consider putting those plans on hold. do you really want to be out of touch? Better to be on the job where you can be caught up with what’s happening and not taken by surprise. you’ll want whatever cash bonus you can get on your way out the door. There’s nothing wrong with taking a vacation after you’re laid off. then don’t take one.
etc. • Severance pay. Ask about a “rollover” which enables you to move the money into a new retirement plan without paying hefty fees. why waste it? .” which means that you get a portion of it depending on how long you have been with the company. Hopefully there is also something extra for you in the form of severance pay. You can try to research them on your own with your company’s human resources department if you are worried about asking your manager. Here are some important questions to ask when you are about to be laid off. and so on up to 100% at five years.Survive The Layoff Get What’s Coming to You Your company should offer some sort of benefits package when you are laid off. then you would be entitled to 20% of the money after one year. 40% after two years. Unfortunately. It will be “vested. However. Especially when you’re not close to retirement. For instance. and profit sharing. Most companies have a fixed policy for determining what sort of severance pay (if any) you are eligible for.). Are you eligible? Not all companies are required to pay unemployment insurance. the money that you put into IRAs and 401k plans can easily be forgotten when you change jobs. Do not feel uncomfortable asking for what you’re entitled to. Will the company pay your premiums after you have been released? For how long? • Retirement money. Do not cash out your retirement funds unless absolutely necessary! The fees are astronomical. • Unemployment benefits. retirement funds (401k. Vesting Schedules Sometimes your company will invest money into a retirement plan for you. • Health insurance. At the very least you’ll need to know what happens to any money that you have tied up with the company. meaning that until you have been with the company for the full term.com – It's your time.commutesmarter. you don’t automatically get this money when you leave. you get nothing. © 2008 Duane Morin Page 9 http://www. such as pensions. if you are on a five-year schedule. Usually it is based on your time with the company. some companies also do a 0–100% vesting schedule.
” and storm out the door. because your future employers will want to know. be very sure to bring this up in your interview. You might even be surprised to find some sympathy from them. you agreed to not take this personally. If your group is reorganized out of existence (rather than just shrinking). This is definitely no reflection on you.com – It's your time. as well as the quality of your work and knowledge of your industry. It is very important that you understand why you were laid off. What you do is fine. Were you on the “transition” team that taught someone else in the company how to do what your group does? If so. “Give me my paycheck. why waste it? . Were you the victim of a reorganization? Most often this does not reflect badly on you at all since the decisions are made very high up in the ranks to shrink your group by a certain percentage. High profile layoffs at large companies tend to make the newspaper. not in New Jersey. provided that you’re doing it in Kansas. You might believe it. It shows that you have some valuable skills. but it will not make you look good to future employers. How many rounds of layoffs did your group experience? If you were let go in one of the later rounds. say. © 2008 Duane Morin Page 10 http://www.Survive The Layoff Why You? Now is not the time to curse your former employers. it could conceivably even be true. You are very likely to be asked by a potential employer. Sometimes they pay relocation.commutesmarter. Make sure you know the answers to the following questions. Never claim that the reason you were laid off is because your boss hated you. You may find the person interviewing you already knows about your situation. this is worth mentioning. usually not. and your company may even tell you that there’s a job for you in the new location if you want it. Is it because the company simply chose to get out of that line of business? Or was it not supporting them financially and they had to cut it? Were you just in the wrong location? The reason that hurts the most is plain old geography. Remember. see if you can find out why. It shows that your employer recognized your leadership and communication skills.
business cards you’ve collected. and the government.Survive The Layoff Time to Organize You are about to be flooded with paperwork. Other parties (such as unemployment or insurance) might need you to refer to them. Unemployment. The most important are those that tell you how to claim benefits. The government will send you a variety of paperwork related to your unemployment. In the mountain of paperwork you’re going to get regarding insurance. Time to get organized! If you don’t have a file cabinet. and so on. Insurance. Start marking it up. There will be some very important dates to remember such as when you need to call unemployment. Job search.com – It's your time. keep where you can get at them.commutesmarter. © 2008 Duane Morin Page 11 http://www. Do not forget to have taxes taken out of your unemployment check—this is a separate form they will send you. Anything that is personal to your situation. Often something that you think is a giant screwup is just paperwork that got crossed in the mail. Read everything. such as benefit statements. and so on. Here’s where you keep copies of your resume. There’s likely to be quite a bit of it. and what you are eligible for. Here are some organization tips: Termination paperwork. Wall calendar. why waste it? . Write these down in big red pen so you don’t forget them. you’ll probably see something that says your coverage has been interrupted. Keep those someplace handy because you will be using them every week. when your insurance coverage runs out. It comes from all directions—your former company. your insurance provider. jobs you’ve responded to. severance letters and so on. organize it. and be prepared to call if something looks wrong. you can use a cardboard box.
The last thing you need right now is a new bill every month. so you’ll need to check with your employer. Luckily. You might even be tempted to do away with insurance altogether and just pay the bills as they come. Before putting your family’s health at risk you should be aware of COBRA.commutesmarter.com – It's your time. which stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. Once they stop paying the premiums. This is certainly a risky strategy. I found out that my COBRA payment would be over $900 a month for my family. although there may be similar programs. (Note that COBRA is a United States federal program. Absolutely take them up on this if you need to. It is certainly not a given that you will just go straight into COBRA coverage.Survive The Layoff Stay Insured The thought of losing your health insurance can make you lose sleep at night. You continue to receive the same plan that you always did. your employer might pay your COBRA for a few months. Not all employers are required to offer COBRA. my former employer is paying for my first three months of coverage. Don’t be surprised when you discover that COBRA might cost hundreds of dollars. © 2008 Duane Morin Page 12 http://www. The downside is that you can’t change your plan in order to make it less expensive. Perhaps the best part of COBRA is that there is no interruption or change in your coverage. for instance. Your coverage should not be interrupted. Texas Brace yourself. That’s an awfully scary bill. The most notable exception is that companies with less than twenty employees are exempt. why waste it? .) If you are eligible. This will take up a huge chunk of your living expenses. it will be all on you. Tom Galveston. COBRA is still very expensive. As a departure benefit. especially one that is so insanely high. One major health problem and you’re in deep trouble. Now. It does not apply in other countries. You don’t appreciate how expensive healthcare can be until you’re asked to pay for it yourself. but the idea of going without insurance and hoping nobody gets sick is not an option. Canada and Australia. so you can keep your doctors. COBRA was passed as law in 1986 and provides a method for continuing to receive insurance without having to pay premiums directly to your healthcare provider. Going directly to a healthcare provider and trying to start a plan would still be much more expensive than COBRA. you will be billed. have universal medical coverage. you can receive benefits for 18 months (or more depending on your situation). your employer was probably paying a portion of your premium. but it is an important option that you can’t overlook. While you were employed.
not just the two or three best friends that you’ve rehearsed a recommendation with. Do try to use your former boss. why waste it? . “Should I use friends or coworkers?” Both. Rehearsing makes people feel uncomfortable.commutesmarter. “Should I rehearse what my references will say?” No. If someone is on your references list that you haven’t spoken with in years. community contacts. Just tell them as much as you can about the job and any thoughts you have on where they might want to focus. etc. Your list should contain a good number of people. “Should I tell my references to expect a call?” You don’t really need to do that until you know that someone will be calling. References? I Need You If you’ve changed jobs recently you may already have a list of references filed away with your resume. You should trust that you know what they’ll all say. Take too long to provide it. Now is a good time to update that list. Since you were laid off rather than terminated. Different companies want to talk to different people.com – It's your time. and it sounds like you’re scrambling to find people willing to speak for you.). Many of your friends may have changed jobs or contact information. coworkers. Be pretty confident of what your references will say about you.Survive The Layoff Hello. or at the very least calling this person and checking in). I’ve seen occasions where we like a candidate and call references only to have them say nothing good about the person. if in the interview they keep asking about your communication skills. Have about ten. and who will give you the best recommendation. and categorize them (friends. if possible. Instead. you might want to consider updating that contact (either by finding a new name for your list. For example. You don’t have to provide references until you’re asked. and suggests that you don’t really want them to give their opinion. Maryann Human Resources © 2008 Duane Morin Page 13 http://www. you could tell this to your former boss and maybe discuss that time you volunteered to teach a class for your coworkers. just make sure that you stay in touch on a friendly. Although it’s rare. hopefully you still have a good relationship. but have the list ready. social level. The candidate is unlikely to get the job when that happens.
Assume for the moment that you’re not going to change anything. Where does that leave you? Hopefully with a few more months than you expected. There’s nothing you can do other than be aware of it. Summer is notoriously bad for hiring managerial and executive jobs because the people that make the hiring decisions are off on their vacations.com – It's your time. You don’t want to be hit with a nasty surprise three months from now. why waste it? . I went to the placement office in March and the consultant asked me what my timeline was when I saw myself needing a job. you should know your living expenses for one month. and ask yourself what your maximum time is. Remember to factor in some things that might change a few months down the road. six months. Will you be okay financially if you’re looking for a job for three months. If you don’t like the answer. Barring that. But you also need to think worst case. look at the budget and see if you can trim those living expenses and get even more out of your savings. the time of year can work against you. If your search is going to take several months. such as health insurance and unemployment income. To begin with. Mary Vancouver. The winter months are equally bad because companies are closing out their financial books for the year and looking to put new hires onto next year’s books. Then I looked at my budget and cash flow and realized that I really would be ok for that long. and determine how many months it will last.Survive The Layoff ASAP is Not An Acceptable Timeline Naturally you’re hoping to get a new job that starts the day after your current one ends. “as soon as possible” has a nice ring to it. BC © 2008 Duane Morin Page 14 http://www. He said he was thinking September.commutesmarter. or one year? This is why your budget and cash flow statements are so important. Look at your savings. I almost had heart failure. I said May.
Outplacement companies provide a wide variety of services such as: • • Resume help.) as one of your benefits. an outplacement office might suggest practice exercises.” At some point you will need to decide whose opinion you value the most.com – It's your time. Sometimes they will have access to pay services that you might not otherwise have the chance to take advantage of. look for jobs. take it. Office space. or that it went well. Don’t you only meet other unemployed people at an outplacement office? Not necessarily. Resources. Networking meetings. This also works when you’re in a panic that the interview didn’t go so well.S. telephone. Your friends at outplacement will boost your spirits back up. share the good news at the outplacement office. Practice interviews.Survive The Layoff Using Outplacement If your company offers outplacement (sometimes called “the Job Network” outside the U. and research companies. but you don’t want to worry your spouse. When you’re excited that you got an interview. Tip Outplacement helps you take the job search seriously. • • • • © 2008 Duane Morin Page 15 http://www. Outplacement can provide you with a desk. no matter how good your intentions are. At least several days a week get up and head into “the office. why waste it? .” so you can watch yourself and improve your performance. Cheerleading. including videotaped “job interviews. “Ask ten people for resume advice and you’ll get twenty answers. As the saying goes. At the very least your outplacement office is likely to have Internet access where you can post your resume.” Treat it as seriously as you treated going to work. fax and other office accessories you might need during your search. Staying at home is just too full of distractions. or that you think you’ll get an offer. Meeting new people is the biggest part of the job search. They’ll all be cheering for you. If you’re scared to interview. Everyone has their network.commutesmarter. and you only need to meet one new person to be connected to theirs.
If you’re currently investing any money (e. Put a little mark next to each item that tells you how important it is. If you’ve done all the saving and budgeting you can and you’re still afraid of the house payment. Not only will you never build it back up. This is the very last thing that you’d want to happen. for retirement or tuition). © 2008 Duane Morin Page 16 http://www. These are probably easy to identify and cut (or at least. then obviously you pay the fees and get the money. Can you get at your money? If you’ve been investing your savings. you’ll need an emergency plan to help you decide what gets cut and when. such as rent/mortgage and most utilities. This is particularly true of retirement money. going out to dinner every week. but the fees and/or taxes will take almost half of it. it is much better to do it on your own schedule and terms. If the time has come to downsize your house. which can often be quite a large sum. Then there are luxuries like buying new electronic gadgets. “Am I going to be homeless?” Likely not. but it will probably hurt less than losing your car. Both hurt less than losing the house. But this is certainly a last resort. If you’re in an emergency situation. and so on. it should not sneak up on you. To prevent this. why waste it? . Some things are mandatory. Keep going: what’s next? Cell phone? How many cars do you have? How many do you need? Get the idea? Now keep going. Remember that even if the worst does happen. then be prepared to make some hard decisions. cut back)..com – It's your time. The purpose of this exercise is to look at the worst possible scenario you can imagine and get some perspective on the “will I lose the house” question.commutesmarter.g. you might be disappointed to discover that you can’t get at it when you want without significant fees. It’s very tempting to cash it out rather than dealing with budgets and penny pinching. Take a look at your cash flow statement and look at everywhere you spend money. Losing your cell phone might hurt. consider decreasing those amounts temporarily or stopping them altogether. but you should be prepared to do that if you have to. You don’t have to sell all your assets and cancel the utilities on your first day of unemployment.Survive The Layoff How to Not Lose the House It’s natural when you lose your job to think. Don’t touch it. Be brutal.
” Here is where you say. Budget Categories Your utilities and other bills are not usually something you can budget. • Entertainment. because it is worth the effort! This is especially true now.” When you want to spend money in that category. why waste it? . cash flow. and the cover charge at the local bar. © 2008 Duane Morin Page 17 http://www.com – It's your time. when your income is about to become significantly lessened. If your budget says $100/month on dining out. no more going out to dinner.Survive The Layoff The Dreaded “B” Word Everyone hates budgets. It’s easy to come up with a hundred excuses why they just aren’t worth the effort. Or work on reducing debt. and savings plan all work together. This is often in a different category than buying yourself lunch or breakfast every day.commutesmarter. concerts.” If your cash flow says that you’re paying $150/month going out to dinner. Budget is not the same as cash flow. Include everything–movies. “This is the most I will spend every month. but much more expensive! • Cash machine withdrawals. This is not where you say “Here’s what I spend every month. It doesn’t matter what you spend it on. and then put that money into savings if you can. But they’re all ridiculous excuses. Some people believe in the “envelope system” where you quite literally cash your paycheck and put a certain amount of money into envelopes marked “Out to dinner” or “New power tools. work backwards by putting your receipts in envelopes. • Dining out. Your budget. Instead of cash. No sharing allowed. you can only take out what’s in the envelope. In the world of direct deposit paychecks this is not always feasible. Here are some common categories that make the cash disappear. then when your receipts add up to $100. Use your budget to cut back on your spending. It’s less frequent (unless you go out every night). maybe your budget says that you will only spend $80. the fact is that the more money you have in your pocket. Limit this loose spending by keeping as little cash on you as possible. the easier it will be to spend.
This is not the best strategy. why waste it? . It might hurt for a bit when you see your savings balance drop. Sometimes an unexpected expense will show up at the worst possible time. Your concern right now isn’t building up your savings.commutesmarter. If you’ve got extra money sitting in savings (not counting your emergency fund!) making 2-3%. You might find that you can save several hundred dollars a month. but just remember that the money you were putting toward that minimum credit card payment can now go right back into building up your savings account. credit cards will be your highest interest payment. Normally. Contact the company and see if you can get onto a payment plan to spread smaller payments over a longer period of time. A year later the rates had dropped so low that even the jumbo rate was lower than what we were paying. Big Expenses Once your salary stops.com – It's your time. you might go into a bit of a panic and try to cut corners everywhere you can. so we refinanced and saved ourselves $600 a month! Anthony Rhode Island © 2008 Duane Morin Page 18 http://www. and you’ve got a credit card balance eating up 15%. But moves like this won’t make the kind of dent in your cash flow that you need. • Consolidate debt. if you own one. For that you need to tackle some big items. Check up on mortgage interest rates. You may even discover that you can use home equity loan interest as a tax-deductible expense. if possible.Survive The Layoff Goodbye. call around to some brokers and ask them to do the math. It’s all well and good to cut back on the number of times you go out to lunch during the week in order to save some real money over a year or so. We bought our house using two mortgages to avoid what they call a ‘jumbo’ rate. • Pay down the credit cards. if the numbers work out to your advantage. it’s not going to pay your mortgage and probably won’t even buy you groceries for a month. then you are losing some serious money. • Refinance your house or condo. Look into the possibility of getting a home equity loan that you could use to pay off student or car loans. Think about it. which saves you even more money. it’s making sure that your bills are covered. Cut back on all the coffee and newspapers you want. • Move to payment plans.
For some coffee brands you can buy the beans yourself and make it at home. Your local market may have a machine to automatically count and sort your change. “I lost my job. where does your spare change end up? Get yourself a jar and empty your pockets at the end of the night. If you only like a certain kind of coffee. Cash in your jar once a month and see how well you’re doing. There is a logical point where the nickels and dimes start to make a dent in your monthly budget. and now you’re talking about enough money to pay the telephone bill. and which you can live without (at least temporarily). This is probably not what you want to hear the first day you’re out of work. and then look at your situation again. Your life has already changed drastically enough now that you don’t have a job anymore. The books are right: $2. Start with the bigger things. If you’re prepared to live this way and these things seem fine to you. So don’t do it. skipping that morning cup of coffee and reading somebody else’s newspaper on the way to work instead of buying your own. You’ll make a very careful budget and then start at the bottom. though. You’re only making it worse for yourself by disconnecting cell phones and canceling cable television.com – It's your time. go right ahead. saving you the effort. you should take it seriously at that level. but the price of a cup of coffee every day can get up over $50 a month.50 does not sound like much. Then decide carefully which things are most important to you.Survive The Layoff Don’t Nickel and Dime Yourself There are many books out there that will show you how to save money. Spare Cash Speaking of nickels and dimes. You might be surprised to discover how quickly those coins turn into real money.” Maybe you can cut back on the number of cups. Naturally. if you really enjoy those things.” You deserve certain things in your life that you enjoy. why waste it? . © 2008 Duane Morin Page 19 http://www.” it should be “Save money where it makes sense. and I can’t get a cup of coffee? Life stinks.commutesmarter. Don’t feel obliged to make these items the focus of your cost-cutting right off the bat. then switching to a different brand just because it’s less expensive might make you very unhappy. Your priority should not be “Save money everywhere possible.
S. IL You may be concerned about signing up for unemployment benefits. If you did not receive it. it is sufficient to make the weekly phone call to attest that you are actively looking.” Here are two big misconceptions that might make you uncomfortable about unemployment: There’s too much hassle to go through. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d thought. In the United States. Benefits should start flowing less than a month after you make the first call.commutesmarter. the first check came about two weeks later.com – It's your time. which was entirely over the phone. The first week you apply is called a “waiting week” where you do not get benefits. for example. I kept thinking that unemployment would be a big hassle and take forever. then call your human resources or benefits center immediately and get it! © 2008 Duane Morin Page 20 http://www. Well. Once I signed up. and so on. they do owe it to you. they need to provide you with all the necessary paperwork. By the time I’m approved I’ll have a new job.Survive The Layoff Don’t Fall for Unemployment Myths It took me over a month to sign up for unemployment. and now I’d missed out on that month’s worth of unemployment checks. Gavin Chicago. you can often handle everything you need with a phone call. You don’t really know what you’ll need. you are given a diary and expected to keep close records of your job search. so you will have to check what options are available to you. but it’s probably not as bad as you think. how much time it will take. Unemployment differs depending on where you are. you do. what you’re entitled to. But after that. It feels a little like diving into the deep end of the swimming pool. and by the time the checks started flowing I’d have a new job anyway. In the U. It takes forever to get started. why waste it? . the effort will be different depending on location. I guess I was in denial. Obviously. a month went by and no job. If your former employer is going to pay your unemployment. In Australia. No one likes the implied stigma of being “on the dole. Remember.
do it on what your income is now. U. there are some job-hunting deductions you can take advantage of. So if your AGI is $45. If you are paying COBRA premiums. This counts if you had to pay your own way to travel to an out of town interview. These include: • Resume preparation and sending.commutesmarter. Everything from hiring a service. The best rule is to save all of your receipts. © 2008 Duane Morin Page 21 http://www. then you can deduct job search expenses over $900. Long distance phone calls.5%). Tax rules change often. Only Although many governments are likely to give similar tax incentives to the unemployed. Only an accountant can give you the final word on what is deductible. and it hurts all the more when you’re on unemployment.000. • • • • • Moving expenses. you may be entitled to deduct this. Don’t do the math on what your income was when you had a job. it helps with your budget and cash flow as well. Unreimbursed travel. You are actually more likely to be eligible for these deductions than you might think. of course. Check the tax laws in your own country to determine what benefits are available to you. right down to the cost of stamps. Business trips only.com – It's your time. Luckily. Not only does this help at tax time. For the most part this is 2% (medical expenses are 7. If you take a new job that requires you to move more than fifty miles. why waste it? . the specific examples listed here are relevant only in the United States. Health insurance. Subscriptions to job search materials such as newspapers and internet sites.Survive The Layoff Track Your Expenses It’s never fun when the taxman takes most of your paycheck.S. you can deduct some of the expenses. Now the unfortunate part: These deductions only apply after a certain threshold: a percentage of your “adjusted gross income” (AGI).
why waste it? . having a part time job will help you do it. If you have to ask for time off every time. If you can find a part time job that pays insurance. you are allowed to make money—just not very much. You want to remain as flexible as possible to interview with prospective “real” employers. particularly insurance? • It’s not the loss of income that’s likely to hurt you the most.commutesmarter.” It can be frustrating to see help wanted signs all around town while you’re trying to get your career back on track.Survive The Layoff It’s Just Temporary It’s easy to attack being unemployed by countering with. Cons Are you competing with unemployment? If you’re being paid unemployment benefits. If you find that you can’t organize and structure your own time. At least it’ll be some money coming in the door. • • • • • © 2008 Duane Morin Page 22 http://www. What will this do to your motivation? Sure. going in you tell yourself it’s only temporary. You might think it’s easy to get that retail sales job since you have an MBA from Harvard. There are 24 hours in a day. But they might see your strategy for what it is. that’s certainly a strong reason to take it. but you may find that you settle into a job that you never really wanted in the first place. There are pros and cons to this approach. So this part time job had better make more for you than you’re giving up. it’s the potential loss of insurance. and know that you’re planning to leave as soon as you can. “I’ll grab a part time job while I search.com – It's your time. You’re likely overqualified. it will result in conflicts you don’t really want or need. • Is this a foot in the door? You might have aspirations of staying with this company and moving up the corporate ladder. Having a job again does give you the structure and responsibility you might be craving. just because it’s easier than searching for a better one. however: Pros Does it pay benefits.
So how much of a pay cut should you be willing to take? Use your cash flow and budget worksheets to determine your own situation. Ouch. Ideally you’ll find yourself in a situation where you have offers from a few different companies and you can pick and choose (and also play them against each other). When you’ve got a good lead on a job.commutesmarter. Take a deep breath and think about that for a minute. Don’t reject the offer before you get it. why waste it? .com – It's your time. though. But be polite! Offers can be retracted as quickly as they’re made. it substantially turns the tables. never say what the minimum salary is that you will accept. Maybe you’ll be pleasantly surprised that the offer is actually better than you expected. The only thinking this shows is fear that you weren’t going to get the job anyway. You’re actually in control. and you’ll have a hard decision to make. so don’t be afraid to tell them what you’re feeling. even if they seem to like you so far. and you have to think about it. Once you’ve gotten an offer. Not only does this give you experience with the interview process and help you practice your skills. Then Decide There are many ways to shoot yourself in the foot while searching for a job. © 2008 Duane Morin Page 23 http://www. My Poor Paycheck In a good job market there’s an unwritten rule that says never take a step backwards in salary. the job market probably isn’t that good. Or maybe it’s close. should you take it? Only you can decide.Survive The Layoff Get the Offer. pursue it right up until you get an offer. If it’s not the perfect offer. or you don’t expect them to pay what you were hoping to make. Offers are subject to negotiation. Most of us won’t be that lucky. Maybe you imagine the commute is a little longer than you’d like. Always say that your requirements are open or negotiable. One big way is to decide prematurely that you don’t want it. When the question comes up. It is all right to reject offers if you truly believe that particular job is not right for you. so you decide to bail out before you get rejected. While you’re interviewing. and bear that in mind going into negotiations. now the company is telling you that they want you. So you decide not to pursue. But if you’re laid off. Don’t be your own worst enemy. you’re trying to convince this company that they need you.
” Now you’re back to square one and the hard part begins— meeting new people and selling yourself. Network Most jobs are filled not by postings in the newspaper or on the Internet. remember these four important words: “Do you know anybody. That will work for about the first week. Your network of contacts should not be limited to just the people you were already interacting with every day. Many mailing lists exist where other job searchers can share their contacts as well as tips about who might be hiring. The way to win this game is to know lots of people! Seriously. “Do you know anybody I should talk to?” Everyone knows someone. First. If you went to college.Survive The Layoff Network. put yourself into situations where you’ll meet people in your industry. If you have the opportunity to join a professional association. and odds are that they’ll all say “Don’t know anyone hiring right now. there’s an art to networking.commutesmarter. but I’ll keep an eye out for you. Somebody knows somebody who knows somebody who was thinking about opening up a position that would be perfect for you. and the only real way to get good at it is to do it.. stay in touch with your alumni foundation.com – It's your time. Try searching for a “networking group” with a few extra keywords that specify your career and location. it would be a good use of your time. It is not just limited to telling your friends that you’re out of work and asking if they know anyone that’s hiring. Network. Remember to ask.”. Join a volunteer organization if you can. Networking Contacts Name Contact Info Referred By Notes © 2008 Duane Morin Page 24 http://www.. why waste it? . Make new ones. Refresh some contacts. The Internet can also provide excellent networking resources. If you never get beyond small talk you’ll feel like you’ve wasted your time. When you’re meeting new people. but by personal contacts.
have some questions to ask. When you pass the interview. The Elevator Pitch Imagine that you’re on your way to an interview and waiting for the elevator. Unlike your resume. why waste it? . The president of the company gets on the same elevator and strikes up a conversation. Your resume could be turned down for a number of reasons.commutesmarter. Feel free to ask the interviewer about her job (but stay away from personal issues). it will be because you earned it. but if you fail the interview. The idea is to convince this other person that you are the perfect candidate for the job. Ask about your specific job responsibilities. The words “comfortably confident” express what you’re aiming for. Speaking of asking questions. They don’t ask whether they sound cocky. © 2008 Duane Morin Page 25 http://www. You really are good at what you do and you really do deserve the job. you’re bound to take it personally. but don’t let it become a time-waster. You have about 30 seconds to make a lasting impression. yourself. So how do you keep from getting nervous? There is no guaranteed way. the interview is a face-to-face opportunity to make or break your chances.Survive The Layoff Practice Your Interview Skills The interview can panic you if you let it. The very fact that you’re asking means you’re not being cocky. What do you say? “I’m confident in myself. the company culture. If the interviewer is doing it. Small talk is good for keeping both parties at ease and relaxed.com – It's your time. Don’t be so relaxed that you spend an hour talking about the baseball game and forget to sell yourself. “Do you have anything you want to ask me?” Come prepared. If you really are not confident that you can do the job you’re interviewing for. Don’t ask about salary or benefits unless you are talking to someone from the HR department. Cocky people are not nervous. That’s wrong thinking. then that is a whole different problem. Interviewers will usually pause at one point and say. but how do I avoid sounding conceited or cocky?” This is not as big a problem as it seems. it will not be luck or coincidence. and anything else that you want to know. stop yourself. Ultimately it’s about having confidence in what you’re talking about—namely. ask the appropriate questions to get the interview back on track. If you realize you’re doing it.
You’ll have a better sense of the current job market. You have to have the frame of mind that you do still have a job. It also means that job search time is not to be taken lightly. Here are some tasks you can do every day: • Return phone calls and emails. Many times you’ll have done what you can by 10:00 am. Even though I’m out of work I’m still up every day at 7:00 am to have breakfast and check the job listings. why waste it? . This forces me not to spend the day in my bathrobe.commutesmarter.com – It's your time. No sleeping in until noon.Survive The Layoff Take the Search Seriously You’re going to hear this quite a bit—“Job searching is a fulltime job. set aside some time every day.” Don’t bug them by calling every day. if you can. Carve out some time every day that you are going to use to focus on the job search. • Read the rest of the newspaper. to avoid distractions. Now what? Taking the search seriously means that you’re going to get up every morning at the same time you used to. Naturally you’ll want to return the urgent ones as soon as possible. • Call the people on your contact list “just to check in. and you’ll find more things to talk about during your networking sessions. Cathy Dublin. Learn about the economy and how the stock market is doing. Ireland © 2008 Duane Morin Page 26 http://www. and get yourself ready to face the day. Reading the paper in your bathrobe is for the sports page and the Sunday comics. so what does that mean? It does not mean that you’ll need to spend forty hours a week searching. Get out of the house. Then I get out of the house as quickly as I can to do the day’s errands. and you’re going to it every morning. and no wandering around in your bathrobe and slippers. But if you realize that you haven’t talked to someone in a little while. call and say hi. But for the non-urgent ones.” Great. • Check the newspaper/Internet for new job postings.
It is also a nice courtesy that tells them you appreciate the time they have taken.” You opened with a thank you. It is acceptable to email your thank-you notes.” Always follow up with a request for more communication.” Now that you’ve discovered more about the job.” This reminds the person who you are and what position you interviewed for.commutesmarter. • “Thank you again. you’re confirming/reiterating your interest. • “I believe that I would be an excellent fit because _____________.” Always sell yourself. • “I look forward to speaking with you soon. During your interview. © 2008 Duane Morin Page 27 http://www. Start doing so. The exact wording depends on your situation: • “Thank you for the time you spent speaking with me about (job) _________. If you can’t get all of them. make sure to at least get the hiring manager’s name correct. now that you’ve had time to think about it. now you close with another one. No one ever lost the job by sending a thank-you note. why waste it? . • “I was very interested to hear about ___________. Your thank-you note should cover the following points.Survive The Layoff Thank-You Notes You may not normally send out thank-you notes. A quick note sent to some of the key people with whom you interviewed tells them that you are serious about wanting the job. Mention something that you learned during the interview to show that you were paying attention. Leave the person with a reminder of your best feature. Some people are comfortable saying “I will contact you to follow up.” but some feel this is too pushy for a thank-you note.com – It's your time. This is important when you try to spell their names properly for thank-you notes. if you know that the person on the receiving end is comfortable with this method of communication. try to get business cards from everyone you talk to.
Honey.com – It's your time. Which tasks have to be done outside. Are there several tasks that require a trip to the hardware store? Great—plan a trip. when there’s daylight? Plan those early in the morning when the weather says it’s not going to rain.commutesmarter. Then do a handful of them each day. That’s gone now. and get everything you need in one visit. but you’re not running your life according to the list.Survive The Layoff Beware the Honey-Do’s For your first day home you may find yourself with a list of household chores a mile long (sometimes known as the “honey do” list for those folks with a spouse. Getting work done around the house is not all there is. Nonsense. period. But be firm and balance your time appropriately. You used to have responsibilities and deadlines. Honey Do List Task Need Supplies? Indoor/ Outdoor Time Estimate Cost © 2008 Duane Morin Page 28 http://www. If that light outside the garage was broken for the past six months. and your job was to do it. There was work to do. Everything else needs to be put into perspective. Which need the help of a friend or neighbor? You get the idea. Naturally you want to be productive with your time. The best way to keep the honey-do list under control is to organize it into oblivion so that everything looks like a small task. then it doesn’t suddenly jump to the top of the priority list because you’re not getting up and going to work. Your job is to find a new job that gets you a paycheck. why waste it? . so you assign yourself work and convince yourself that this is your new job. You’re getting something accomplished. can you do this for me. now that you have the time?) This list fills the void left by your sudden departure from work.
house chores.. Buy yourself a present. if you’re thinking “Am I being productive? Am I getting work done?” then you’re not getting the most out of your free time.” then don’t. Go fishing. Look at your old photo albums. Donate time to your favorite charity. They’re not for housework. That’s just fine. Or take up yoga. massage. If possible. why waste it? . Jog around the neighborhood.” Schedule a couple every week. Here are some ideas: Basically free…. make sure you leave some blocks blank.com – It's your time.Survive The Layoff Free Time is Not Wasted Time When you budget your time. Take up golf. Cost a little more… Take yourself out to lunch. These are yours. try to squeeze in some time every day. at a minimum. Or quilt. As a matter of fact. As a general rule of thumb. and free time. © 2008 Duane Morin Page 29 http://www. If you catch yourself saying. Play Solitaire. or after the family has gone to bed. This could mean just 15 minutes by yourself when you wake up in the morning. and they’re not for job search. to do with as you wish. But seriously. Go window shopping. Hang out with your friends. Horseback riding. Meditate. What you do with this time is up to you. you’re not on any deadlines. try to do something that you enjoy. No one can stop you from doing chores or job searching if that’s what will keep you relaxed. Go do something else to distract yourself. Learn to knit.. facial. “I need to do this. Get a manicure (or a pedicure. realizing that you’re no longer on a deadline is one of the big hurdles to overcome before you can enjoy your free time to begin with. Go to the movies.commutesmarter. They’re for “mental health.) It may take you a while to find a comfortable balance between your job search. Read a book.
you can get into doing your own planting and gardening as well. Plan your projects and make sure that you’ve left plenty of time for the job search. but if you have any doubts call in some help.commutesmarter. as well as “mental health” breaks. please). why waste it? . Here’s some ideas to start with. it’s easy to get started.com – It's your time. Maybe start a garden! There’s no salad quite like one made with home grown vegetables. Be conservative. It’s very satisfying to look at your yard and appreciate how nice you’ve made it look. Electric and plumbing. Wait a second… Becoming a do-it-yourselfer does not mean that the honey do list does not still apply. get to work! © 2008 Duane Morin Page 30 http://www.Survive The Layoff Become a Do-It-Yourselfer One good way to save money and make yourself feel useful is to do some work around the house that you might have otherwise hired someone for. Careful! These are two areas you’ll probably want the help of someone accomplished. injure you (stay off the roof. Most people who try painting and wallpapering their own rooms will tell you horror stories about how much of a mess it became. If you’re going to paint a room don’t do a bathroom with a shower (the steam presents special problems). unless your new career is going to be “general contractor. Start small! Try a wallpaper border if you like those. Small plumbing projects can be attempted (for example.” in which case. If you go into it with the right attitude it can be fun even if it doesn’t come out perfect. Many of these stores even offer classes in how to do basic repairs around the house. Don’t immediately jump into projects that will: cost you a fortune. With hardware superstores just about everywhere. particularly with electrical work. Paint and paper. where you can cause yourself serious injury. or cost another fortune to fix if you mess it up (demolition is a job for the professionals). installing your own garbage disposal). Landscaping. Beyond just mowing your own lawn. That is.
and spend some time listening. If you’re shy about talking to new people. Then the neighbor shook my hand and said. But the point is that you never know. You are out of work. “Me too. What you want to do is find more work. My wife and I had only been in our neighborhood about a year when I lost my job. Get in the habit of just saying “Hi!” to people when you make eye contact. and before you know it they’ll be shouting across the street from the mailbox.” Jim Sydney. If he doesn’t. Your neighbors probably are interested and concerned for you. but remember to ask for the other person’s opinion.” I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. “Excellent. Before you know it you’re jumping into conversation as if it were second nature. People who you’ll be working with regularly. Australia Need a topic for conversation? How about the job market? As the story above shows. Not only will it tire you out. Since you’re out of work. you might be talking to someone else in your same situation and not even know it. Always remember that the people who will ultimately interview and hire you are just that—people. maybe he knows someone who does. You’re not just selling yourself. This should go without saying. thanks for asking! I have an interview tomorrow!” If you’re not comfortable talking to strangers. Your goal is to be comfortable enough that you don’t mind talking about your situation. Denial will get you nowhere. A good way to do that is talk to people. They want you to relax and be yourself.com – It's your time. Many people are. the neighbor is probably not going to have a job for you. you’re also collecting information. The first time she introduced me to a neighbor and added “‘My husband is out of work now. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. You’re probably running into the same people often. “How’s the job search going?” So shout back. Start practicing! © 2008 Duane Morin Page 31 http://www. you’re probably spending more of your days around the neighborhood doing errands and such. why waste it? . it will eventually make them uncomfortable as well. You don’t have to introduce yourself as being out of work. too.commutesmarter. you won’t interview well. You don’t have to network with everyone in your neighborhood. not recite a script like a robot. if it comes up. start small.Survive The Layoff Get Out and Talk to People Talking to people about your job loss helps to make it a more bearable reality. Sure.
Been to the library lately? Get yourself a library card. Many bookstores these days have lounge areas where you can look through the books. bring a pad and take some notes. accounting and financial planning. But that was never intended to mean. Unfortunately. but that’s not the same thing as actual expertise. keep in mind that they usually belong to an interlibrary loaning system that can track down just about anything. Are you willing to give up something else in order to do it? Tip Don’t spend all your time learning things that you feel you have to in order to improve your resume by adding skills you don’t yet have. © 2008 Duane Morin Page 32 http://www. With programs like these you can take a variety of courses. and juggling (and everything in between). too.” It just means that you have to pay better attention to where your money goes. Even if your local library seems too small to carry much that interests you. why waste it? . but you also have ready access to all the latest magazines and local newspapers. There’s nothing wrong with introducing yourself to new topics and skills. “I thought I was supposed to be saving money?” This is true. and classes almost always cost money. that taking a class does not always mean signing up for a program at the local college and paying a hefty tuition. Not only do you get an endless supply of books for free. If you really want to take this class. then you just have to ask whether you can afford it based on your other financial goals. knitting. Remember. Meanwhile. Use this method to browse through some books before deciding which one might be right for you. If you’re only interested in a few key points. If you love the book. Not a big fan of the classroom? Books are the next logical option.com – It's your time. the same thing applies— don’t go crazy spending your whole budget on books. including foreign languages. you’re asking yourself. go see if your library has it. Computer-related careers are notorious for the ever-changing buzzwords they call requirements.commutesmarter. You can just as easily enroll in your community’s “continuing education” program for a very small price. What have you always wanted to learn but never had the time? A foreign language? Tap dancing? This is a great opportunity to do something with your time that is both fun and productive. “Stop spending money completely.Survive The Layoff Learn Some New Tricks Looking to do something useful with your time? Maybe now is a good time to learn some new things. tae kwon do. this might mean taking a class. but again.
start now. For many people.com – It's your time. Get your affairs in order. Remember. stare at the clouds. If you feel like you’re getting behind in the search. use this little fact to remind yourself that you’re already way ahead of the game. Get some books out of the library. Gut instinct will tell you that you have to replace your job with another job exactly like the last one. But why. If you want to change something. Or just go sit in the park. Understand that the job search can be a fulltime job without taking all of your time.Survive The Layoff Know What You Want Now is a good time for some soul-searching. Budget your money and have a backup plan so you know exactly how long you can look for a new job. and learn something new. © 2008 Duane Morin Page 33 http://www. You’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you skip this part of your transition and just blindly go back into the exact same career you had. Talk it over with friends and family. So take some credit for having achieved this tremendous accomplishment. take a class. you’re very lucky to have found it. Then take some free time and spend it on yourself. If so. What about something with more creative input? Or something where you can give back to society? Happy? You might already know that the job you were in was exactly what you want to be doing. and think about life. and make sure to get whatever benefits are coming to you. when really you’d like more opportunities to contribute as an individual? Maybe you wanted more say in the direction your company was taking. As you search. Just how happy were you? There’s more to life than just bringing home the paycheck.commutesmarter. but don’t let “just bring in the money” pressure force you down a path that you don’t want to travel. the transition between jobs truly is a life-altering period that means changing more things than just employers. exactly? Maybe you hated it. make use of the tips from this e-book. what’s important to you? • • • • • • Do you want to be “the provider” for your family? Do you need more time to yourself? Did your job require you to deal with strangers often. Ask yourself. and there’s no better time to realize that than right now. why waste it? . this is ultimately your decision.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.