Layoffs are in the news again, and (especially if you work in the tech industry) you might be more than a little worried. While getting laid off is a relatively common experience, knowing you’re not alone won’t lessen the blow unless you are proactive about protecting yourself. Here are some of the things you should try to do, if only to alleviate some anxiety.
Inspect Your Finances
If the layoff rumor mill is keeping you up at night, the best thing you can do is assess your financial situation. Review your current income and spending patterns; are there expenses that you can easily cut if necessary, such as streaming subscriptions or a Starbucks habit?
More importantly, how is your savings/emergency fund? Dipping into retirement savings isn’t an ideal option — not when you’re this close — so it’s really important to have a well-padded emergency fund. (You should really have an emergency fund no matter what, in case an unexpected cost ever arises.) If your emergency fund can’t cover about at least a month of your necessities, it’s time to boost it while you can. Take a look at expenses you can cut and put that money away.
Getting all of these numbers down on paper can help alleviate some of your anxiety by giving you a modicum of control, as well as having a plan to put in action if the worst does happen.
Research the Potential Ramifications
For some people, financial anxiety is centered on the unknown. With layoffs on the horizon, it’s a good idea to look into things like your potential unemployment benefits, your health insurance coverage, and the impact a layoff could have on your 401(k) or pension plans.
Unemployment Benefits: As a victim of lay-offs, you are almost always considered a former employee in good standing, which qualifies you for unemployment benefits. It can take a few weeks to get your first check, so the earlier you apply for benefits, (which you can do here) the better.
Health Insurance: How long you are covered under your employer-sponsored plan after a layoff hinges on how far in advance your premiums are paid. Most employers pay a single month in advance, which is only helpful if you happen to get laid off early in that month. Be sure to research the options that will be available to you after that (COBRA is one, while an individual health care plan under ACA is another) so you can include these costs in your financial plans. It’s also a great idea to fill any prescriptions you have now, so you won’t run out later.
Impact On Your 401(k)/Pension Plans: If you have a 401(k) with your employer, you have a couple different options. If you have at least $5,000 in your account you can leave it there (at least until you find a better option). Then, you can see if you can consolidate it with a new 401(k) at your next job. You could also look into opening a rollover IRA. You could cash out your 401(k), but this is a last-ditch option, because you’ll pay a ton of taxes and penalty fees.
Reframe Your Perspective: It’s Not Just a Loss; It’s an Opportunity
Once you’ve ascertained your financial outlook, it’s time to look into your next job options. Make sure your resumé is up-to-date and optimized for the job you want. (For more on resumé tips, check this article out.) And if you’re not on LinkedIn, you’d better hop on that bandwagon, because it’s one of the best ways to grow your professional network. Be sure to make the most out of your profile page, too: write a solid “About Me” section, and reach out to any work friends or colleagues now to expand your contacts.
Before a layoff happens can be a great time to put out feelers regarding a new job. Maybe you’ve been eyeing a lateral move within your field of expertise, or you have thought about a career shift but disregarded it because it would uproot things too much. Now is a great time to submit inquiries or applications, because the worst that could happen is you’d have to make a choice.
Engage in Self-Care
Anticipating a major life change can be incredibly stressful, so we’re not just talking about bubble-baths or exercise. While those can be helpful in managing anxiety, they won’t go far in terms of fixing the problem. Consider retaining the services of a career coach or therapist, especially if your company has an Employee Assistance Program that can help here. They can help you manage your feelings, as well as guide you through crafting a plan.