Getting laid off is a very difficult experience and something that, unfortunately, a lot of you who are reading this are probably dealing with, or will be dealing with in the future. When this happens, it's really important to keep perspective.
Yes, it sucks and it is going to be rough for a while; I can tell you this from experience because I dealt with it in 2008. I ended up getting laid off and I was out of work for about eight months. It was a really tough time. Frankly, it was a depressing time—but at the end of the day, it did pass.
Because I went through that experience and because I know a lot of you are probably struggling with this right now, I wanted to write this post to help you understand what you need to do right now to get through this and exactly the steps you need to take to be a successful professional again.
I'm going to tell you exactly what you need to know if you got laid off, or if you know that you will be laid off soon.
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1) Take a deep breath. It’s not the end of the world.
This is really important. Before you move forward, take a deep breath and realize that this isn't the end of the world.
Yes, you're going to have some difficulties for a little while. You may even miss a few different payments on some things you own. But one of the only good things about this situation that we're all dealing with right now is that creditors are more willing to hear people out because it was so sudden.
What is happening right now is really unprecedented. It's not something that's ever happened in the world before, so speaking to your creditors and letting them know the situation is very important.
More importantly, you need to take a step back and realize that this is temporary and that this, too, shall pass. This is something that we'll look back on in a few years and say, “That was a tough time.”
You, just like me, will be able to move past it.
2) Collect Your Final Paycheck
Number two is to collect your final paycheck and also check if you're able to get severance pay. Now, severance pay is typically going to be reserved for the individuals who have been working at the company for a long time. If that's you, then great! Talk to HR to see if you are eligible.
If that's not you, that's okay too. Just find out when your last paycheck is going to arrive and make sure you understand whether or not it's a live check or direct deposit. Also, make sure you know that date because this might be the most amount of money you're going to get for a little while, so you want to make sure you know exactly when that's going to arrive.
3) Look into Cobra Health Insurance
Number three—look into Cobra Health Insurance. Cobra Health Insurance is very important in a time like this. As we all know, if you don't have health insurance and you get seriously ill, it could lead to bankruptcy, which is the last thing that anybody wants to deal with.
You are eligible for Cobra Health Insurance if you quit your job or if you were fired from your job (unless it was gross misconduct and you did something really bad), or even if they reduce your hours significantly.
It is a program that you can join to fill the gap when you're between jobs. You can have it for up to 18 months in total. In addition to that, you have a 60-day window between leaving your last employer to potentially getting a new employer to make the decision to get Cobra Health Insurance.
Now, why is that so important? Well, I previously had appendicitis in 2008 and I was about 45 days into being unemployed. At the time I thought, “Oh gosh, I'm going to owe this whole hospital bill,” which was $10,000-$12,000.
It turns out that because I was still within the 60-day window, I really lucked out. Instead of paying a $10,000-$12,000 bill, I just had to pay Cobra Health Insurance for two months. That's all I had to do.
Understand that the 60-day window is key. If you are unemployed and you think that you'll be able to get a job within 60 days, you technically wouldn’t have to elect to get Cobra Health Insurance until day 59.
4) File for Unemployment Benefits
Number four is to file for unemployment benefits. Here's the thing with unemployment—a lot of people are hesitant to do it because they say, “I don't want to be one of those people who's milking the system.”
You're not milking the system.
The thing that you need to understand about unemployment is that for every single job you've ever worked, you have been paying into the unemployment benefits system. In a way, if you ever go on unemployment, just realize that all you're doing is getting some of your own money back.
The reality is, you're not going to have a great salary on unemployment anyway. That's not how unemployment works. At the end of the day, unemployment is there to give you a little crutch when you need it. Sometimes we all need a little crutch, so don't be ashamed about getting unemployment.
You want to file for it as quickly as possible so you will be eligible to get the amount of money that you should receive. The more quickly you do it, the better off you're going to be. If you file for unemployment today and in two weeks you get a job, you'll still get that two weeks of unemployment.
So why not take the money you've already paid into unemployment and get it back for your own benefit? That's really what it's there for. Here is a link to tell you all about unemployment benefits for your specific state.
5) Confirm References and Connect With Network
Number five is to confirm your references and connect with your network. The saying goes that “It's all about who you know professionally.” Generally speaking, this is true, especially in a time like this.
When a lot of employers are laying people off and a lot of bad things are happening, if you know someone who can get you in into an employer, it fast-tracks you and makes the whole process that much easier to get hired.
It’s important that you connect with your references, or who you would want to use as references, and make sure they will vouch for you with new employers.
When you're going through this whole situation, the last thing you want to do is finally find a job that you like, fill out the application, then when they ask for references, sweating and thinking, “Well, who can I actually get as a reference?” Make sure you get that out of the way now, because that way you're fully prepared to apply.
Also, make sure you check with the people who you want as your references. Say, “Hey, someone may call you for a reference check. Would you be cool with leaving that information and telling them I'm a good worker?” Usually, if it's someone you have a personal relationship with, they're going to say, “Yes.”
Then you need to tap into your own personal network to get the feelers out there. Remember, don't be offended if people say, “I don't have anything,” because the truth is, a lot of people don't have anything.
With business owners, you may think, “Well, this person owns a business. So they should easily be able to hire me.” Remember that they might be struggling as well. It is important to get that perspective because when you start blaming other people, then you won't take the blame yourself. That's not a good mindset to have, so make sure you keep that in mind as you go through this whole process.
6) Start a side hustle
Number six is to start a side hustle. Now I know a lot of you are probably thinking, “This guy's crazy. Why is he talking about this right now?” But when you're working your full-time job, are you really doing what you want to do? Are you really enjoying it?
My guess is that you aren’t—and you aren't alone. Most Americans and people internationally do jobs that they have to do to put food on the table. I understand that.
However, when you start a side hustle, this is something you can work on that you are passionate about. This is something where you control your destiny, 100%, and you don't have to rely on anyone else; you also don't have to answer to anyone else.
Not only that, but realize that at a time like this, this is going to be something that will grow your resume for future employers to see. They're going to see that while you were unemployed, you weren't just sitting there, sulking. Instead, you were actively looking for a job and starting a side project on your own to showcase whatever it is you're interested in.
While this is a very tough time, it's also a great opportunity if you've been putting this off. It's a great time to jump in and start doing your side hustle because, aside from applying to jobs, you don't have a lot going on. It's a great time to take control of your own destiny and shift the path that you've been going down for a long time.
What should you do? That depends on your interests. Personally, I do websites. If you’re interested in that, you can go to this page for a free mini course and learn all about websites. You may be thinking, “It's too techie,” or “I don't fully understand it.” If you click on that link, you will see that it's not too much.
If that's not your speed, I recently created a video titled, “10 Work at Home Jobs that Pay Over $100/Day in 2020.” You can check that out if you’d like.
Regardless of what you choose to do, the most important thing is that you do something you're passionate about. When you’re passionate about what you do, then if you have a bad day at work or you're struggling, you can pour yourself into your project because you enjoy it so much.
I do recommend that you try to do something that's easily done from home.
I think a passive business model is a good idea; this could be something like a website. That's why I'm a big fan of websites, and why I started them. I am able to make money from them while I sleep. That is a legitimate thing.
Make sure you keep that in mind because if it's something that requires 8-10 hours a day, you're going to have a hard time keeping up when you inevitably become employed again.
7) Start Your job search
After you start your side hustle and you've gotten your feelers out there, it's time to get back to the job search. You're not going to build a successful business overnight; it takes time. I currently make about $25,000 in revenue every single month from a portfolio of websites, but it took me about six years to get there.
When you're doing your job search, there are a few things you can do to make sure you're successful in it.
First, make sure you're doing 10 applications a day. I found that 10 a day made me feel like I was being productive and I was doing something. At the same time, it wasn't so overwhelming that I quit.
You usually want to look on LinkedIn or Indeed.com. There are also job websites out there that fit in specific niches. Just try to apply to 10 different jobs a day; that's the key number.
The other thing to understand is, when you are not working on applying to jobs, you should absolutely be working on your side hustle because now is your time. You don't have a lot of other stuff going on.
Now is your time to really focus on and grow that side hustle because when you do get a job again, you’ll have a little side project—and you don't have to tell your new employer about it. Maybe one day you can even leave your full-time job, which is exactly what I was able to do.
The last thing I want to say is that patience is key. If you're not patient in this process and you think you're just going to start a side hustle and make $5,000 a month, and you're going to submit five applications and get five job offers and be all good to go, then you're probably setting yourself up for failure.
Understand that you're going to have to be patient in the situation. It doesn't mean that you should be lazy. That's two different things. Be patient, right? Understand that the seeds you're planting now will grow trees in the future, but you have to sit there and wait.
While you're waiting, make sure that you're working hard on your applications and your side hustle so that, although you've planted all these trees over here, you've got this one little, special tree that's slowly sprouting and hopefully one day will overtake all the other trees and you can work for yourself.
That is, from my experience, the steps you need to take now. If you do this, I promise you that five years from now you will be in really good shape.
That side hustle can really grow. You just have to be passionate and keep working on it.