The Layoff Survival Kit: Up Your Career Snapback Game With These Tips

Workin’ Girl

There are survival kits for the Rapture, World War III, and camping emergencies, but where's the kit for a layoff? That can feel like a catastrophe, leaving behind a mess almost worst than any hurricane could.


A few years ago, I had a great job at a company that was on my Must-Work-There-Before-I-Die list. Then it all came to an end in what is often an unfortunate yet routine part of business: a layoff.

Talk about fight or flight during an emergency disaster: I flew...for two years...just flailing about in uncertainty and a depression that went from mild to severe.

Well, let me put you on to game: I would have got my career snapback on much sooner if I had the following essentials on lock before the layoff even happened:

First (Career) Aid

Have at least two motivational and two strategy books on deck to keep you from jumping off the mental ledge.Try Don't Settle for Safe by Sarah Jakes, The Woman Code by Sophia Nelson, and Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury. The Power of Broke by Daymond John is another great one to have on hand. You'll need this knowledge when going in to talk severance pay, which can be negotiable. You have to speak up to get a good return on the years you invested your blood, sweat, and tears helping to make that company millions.

I'm also very spiritual, so having my Bible app and devotionals just a tap away was vital.

Your updated resume and an accounting of your career wins should also be in the mix. Just take an hour or so, twice a month, to write down teams you've been part of, promotions, appointments, or awards you've received, and specifics on how you've helped make or save the company money. During the job-seeking process, this helped me when routinely drawing a bitter mental blank after all the crying and wine-drinking.

(Financial) Survival Tools

If you've got Instagram but no Bank of America or Chase app, you're hustling backwards. Do a check on that coin, and update those apps.

I was so stuck on the This-Couldn't-be-Happening-to-Me Train, I also hadn't paid much attention to important deets of my accounts and services available to me, i.e. the fees associated with no longer having direct deposit, options for low-interest personal loans, and availability of credit products. Some banks even have programs for mortgage and auto loan holders who have been laid off. Get fond of that dreaded b-word: budgeting---and download apps like Mint and or Wally that can keep you accountable, help you save a rainy-day fund, and remain balanced in enjoying your life while being responsible.

Very important: Having information about your 401k, IRA, or life insurance policies handy is like that emergency condom or tampon you keep in your bag at all times.

A last resort option is to withdraw or transfer funds for emergencies, so you'll want to go ahead and get hip on tax penalties and limits while you have options, not when your back is against the wall. (And yes, there's a thing called whole life insurance where nobody has to go to Glory to cash in.)

Unemployment Lifelines

My pride kept me from filing for unemployment initially, but it ain't sexy to have options for paying your rent and car note at your fingertips, yet still face eviction or repossession. Keep unemployment insurance information handy---phone numbers, steps on how to file, job programs and offices, and most importantly, your rights. Add to that list: numbers to your health insurance company to talk about COBRA coverage options (Healthcare.org or your HR rep is a good start for this), or your union rep (if you're part of one).

Control the fall-out and snapback after a layoff on your own terms. Though it can be a very challenging and trying time, you can turn it into one of the best moments of your life.

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