What mistakes did you make when you were laid off?

I may be getting laid off this Summer. I am not sure, but I prefer to assume I am and take the necessary precautions. Thing is, I haven’t ever had to deal with this, but I want to try to do it right the first time around. Here is my current plan:

-Try to live as though I was currently unemployed, cutting unecessary expenses, hoarding every penny I earn.

-Work as much overtime as possible (7 days/week) as well as cashing out some of my vacation to build up as big of a safety net as possible before getting laid off.

-Applying for jobs now before there are 150 other people with the same qualifications as myself scrambling to find other job after layoffs happen.

Anything else I can do? The only thing I can be happy about is that I have advance warning, so I can at least prepare somewhat for this, and that I MIGHT have enough seniority to survive a layoff, meaning I’d have a big chunk of money that could be invested in other necessity (such as a new car).

When I was laid off I realized very quickly that I can’t live on ramen and grilled chicken for very long. You gotta occasionally treat yourself to something tasty and unhealthy. All the other stuff sounds pretty smart if you can force yourself to do it. I sort of lounged on the couch for a month being in complete denial about needing to look for work.

Probably the very much smartest thing you can do right now.

That’s doable short term, but not if you work yourself sick. It’s OK to take a day off once in awhile to recharge. Actually, it’s more than OK, it’s healthy.

Too late. I can almost guarantee that there are at least 500 people jockeying for any job you are qualified for, right now.

If you can, pay off any debt you currently have. If you can’t pay it off, try to reduce the monthly payment amount because, trust me, unemployment money doesn’t stretch far.

If you have health insurance now get all your checkups and stuff done now, before layoff, because you may or may not be able to afford COBRA and even if you can it doesn’t last forever.

An argument could be made that taking my current job after I was laid off was a mistake. It’s a big, well known company and an important sounding job with a high salary, but in reality it is pretty stupid. I’m kind of left to wonder if I had not taken this job, would I have found one that would have been a better long term fit or would I have just been unemployed for the past year.

If you’re getting a severance check, cut the amount in half and make your plans (if any) with that. It’s taxed heavily. At least mine was.

A very good friend is facing imminent lay-offs. The four things she’s doing that you did not mention above are:

  1. Getting all her medical appointments done while she still has insurance – check-up, teeth cleaning, eye exam and ordering contacts, etc.

  2. Assembling examples of her best work for writing samples and portfolio.

  3. Paying organization dues that can be paid in advance and that will be paid in whole or part by the company or are easier for her to pay now while she’s still employed.

  4. Lining up references and drafting and having the references review (though not sign) reference letters, so that if and when she needs the letters, she can just e-mail the references and say “hey, thanks for agreeing to provide me a letter, here’s the text you approved before, please send it to X company.”

ETA: I also forgot: Because she believes her lay-off is imminent (next couple of weeks or so), she is quietly removing the less obvious of her personal items, taking all personal stuff off her computer, deleting her e=mail, and quietly making copies of computer files she wants/needs and taking them home bit by bit. She is not inviting a layoff by stripping her desk of obviou pictures and stuff, but she also doesn’t want to walk out the last day with the proverbial Big Box. And not all companies will let you make copies of computer files – hers will not, to be honest, which is why she’s doing it now on the QT. The day the axe falls she assumes she will be immediately locked out of the computer and e-mail.

Not all of these might apply to your profession. And some may be premature for you, but they’re still worth considering.

Not a mistake on my part, but I would recommend descretely lining up references within your company. Basically managers, peers and even subordinates who report to you who you trust to give you a positive recommendation.

Stop taking drugs (if you take drugs). You may have to take a drug test with your next employer so you will want them out of your system.

I am sure nobody on this board is that stupid, but I have had several friends wait until their unemployment checks dried up before they even started to look for work.

Needless to say, it didn’t work out well for any of them.

Taxes are *withheld *heavily, but it’s not actually taxed at a higher rate. Your advice is good, though, in that you won’t get all the cash in hand.

It also suggests something else to check. If you happen to be one of those people who gets more than necessary withheld from your check, to make sure you don’t owe taxes or to get a refund, change your withholding to get more cash in every check. You may also want to reprioritize from retirement savings to more liquid savings.

Figure out what’s involved in getting COBRA to extend your health insurance. You will typically be entitled to 18 months of COBRA. COBRA is extremely unforgiving of late payments. If your employer goes out of business and/or completely cancels health insurance for employees, you will not have the option of COBRA. Keep your eyes on the political news for health insurance and unemployment related aspects of stimulus plans.

Do a great job in your current position, taking any opportunities to cross-train that may come up. Don’t work so much overtime that your standard of performance deteriorates. That may not be an issue so much for the OP if layoffs will be 100% seniority based, but it could make or break people in most jobs.

If you interact with people from other companies/ agencies in your job, KISS SOME BUTT. Companies/ agencies that buy from or sell to your employer are some of your best hopes for a new job.

If you plan on using social networking like LinkedIn to get a job, set up your profile and connect to people now, so that you won’t come across as yet another desperate unemployed person who just discovered networking.

Help any unemployed friends in their job searches. If worse comes to worse, you may have built up some good karma and/or learned from their experiences.

If possible, get on any committees that are being formed to get employee input about reorganization, restructuring, etc. It can be one way to save your bacon or at least see a little more clearly when/where the axe is going to fall.

COBRA sounds like a good idea…hey, you get to keep your insurance when you get fired! Except the problem is that now you have to pay the full amount and you don’t have a job. COBRA is probably damn expensive. If you’ve got kids or ongoing issues you pretty much have to suck it up and pay. But if you’re young and healthy you can save thousands of dollars by going without insurance. But get all those checkups and prescriptions filled before you lose your job.

You don’t have to decide whether to take COBRA for 60 days. I had about a month between jobs last time. So I didn’t take the COBRA right away - I waited to see if I had a medical emergency during that month. Since I didn’t, I didn’t take it and just had my new health insurance when it kicked in. If I had had a problem and needed coverage, I could have elected it retroactively.

Oh, and one part of the stimulus plan is a COBRA subsidy - look into that if you need it. I don’t know the details, but it sounded pretty good.

Great advice on getting any and all medical necessities done while you still have insurance.

Another suggestion is to start marketing yourself to recruiters, especially those who specialize in your industry. They cannot only help you look for jobs that you may not be seeing, but they can also give resume advice and a realistic picture of what they are seeing in your field. Chances are that any job that is posted publicly is getting hammered with applications/ resumes, and a recruiter can help seperate you that way as well.

Save as much as you can now, and pay anything you can in advance a few months. Utility companies around here will often credit your account if you overpay, so if you can afford to chip in an extra 50 bucks on the electric bill a month, it may help in the long run. You may also want to evaluate your utility/ water usage now, and start making changes to help reduce these bills in the long term.

If you’re young and healthy, an individual policy will not be outrageously expensive. If you see a layoff coming, price that as well as COBRA.

Your time uninsured can have ongoing implications for whether your new insurance covers pre-existing conditions (which you may develop while unemployed/uninsured), so going uninsured is not a decision to be taken lightly. It could mean that condition is not covered for up to a year, even once you are back on a group plan.

–Network, network, network. With people IRL and through any professional organizations you belong to,. And UNprofessional organizations. And organizations of any kind, including sports clubs. This is a good time to attend meetings you’ve been missing – heck, why not/ You’re not working. And through the internet
–Check jobs through computer sites. Look for professional organization sites, too – don’t just rely on Monster.com

–redo your resume. You may want to make up several, in fact, in different styles. And don’t hesitate to customize it for individual job applications.

–Make up your own business cards with your contact info on it, and something that makes you stand out. They’re easy to hand out to people when you’re giving your “elevator spiel.”

In my experience, COBRA is always completely outrageous - like 4 or 5 times the cost of comparable individual insurance for a healthy 20-something ($800/mo for COBRA vs. $150-$200/mo for individual)

Apply for unemployment compensation! Sounds obvious but I’ve known loads of people who didn’t for a variety of reasons and then wished they had. Even if you think you might maybe have a job lined up. “job lined up” can sometimes take longer than you think, “job lined up” has been known to fall through… basically, you’ve paid into it, and you’re entitled to draw as well.

COBRA costs depend on what your previous employer was paying for insurance. If your employer is a small company with an older workforce, that tends to equal really high COBRA cost. But a large employer may get a fairly good deal on a good insurance plan. $600/month is the national average for family COBRA coverage. The individual plan you get for cheap will have a lot of exclusions (e.g., pregnancy) and typically a high deductible. Either one is probably better than going without insurance.

I dont know about that. I left one job, and the COBRA to continue was outrageous. I was young, unmarried, no kids or dependents, fit as fiddle, non smoker, a BMI most would die for, NO preexisting conditions, no eyesight or dental issues, and only had one rather typical ER visit in the previous decade.

After I found what that sucker would cost, I dropped it post haste.

I guess the moral is, don’t even remotely assume the COBRA will be remotely affordable till you find out for sure.

When I left a Fortune 500 Company in 2004, with 1200+ employees in the home office and thousands and thousands more in worldwide retail employees, I was quested $800 for my COBRA. Me. Alone. Little old no children, no preexisting conditions me.

My individual insurance. Blue Cross Blue Shield with prescription coverage, dental and the accident rider (extra coverage for emergency room), was $144/mo. I think my deductible was $750?

I’m not doubting you, Hello Again, those premiums vary quite a bit. And my numbers were a little old, this article says currently $400 for individual and $1000 for family average costs. But apparently the stimulus subsidy started March 1, covering 65% of the premiums. So that’s certainly something to consider.


I don’t remember my exact COBRA payment, but I do remember it was at the time the equivalent of a rent payment, a car payment, and then some more !

Pretty damn expensive for pretty much nothing statistically speaking…