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Layoff Preparation and Survival Tips

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By Javier Lavagnino, Esq. on April 07, 2009 3:32 PM

Getting laid off is a terrible experience for anyone, and can understandably leave people feeling helpless or having doubts as to their value as employees. In recent months, layoffs have occurred often and sometimes in large numbers, leading many to join the ranks of job-seekers seeking unemployment benefits. To make matters worse, the AP reports that hundreds of thousands of previously laid off Americans will soon be exhausting their unemployment benefits, this despite the fact that Congress twice extended unemployment benefits last year.

Although some feel that recent signs of life in the economy may be a signal that the current recession is bottoming out, the same economists may likely concede that the job market usually lags behind other economic indicators in a recovery.

So what do you do if you're hearing disturbing rumors at the workplace, or are seeing worrisome management meetings, or have already faced some form of cutbacks? Here are five quick tips to help prepare and cope with a layoff:

1. Prepare to apply for unemployment benefits promptly. If the worst comes to pass, it is best to move quickly in applying for unemployment benefits. Budget strapped states are having their unemployment systems pushed to the limit, and have varying procedures for applying. Researching about the process in advance can make it easier to deal with later on, and most states have informative websites to help. The sooner the application process is begun after a layoff, the sooner any discrepancies, disputes or problems can be resolved.

2. Be flexible in a job hunt. Unless the last job and/or career path was hated, it's pretty natural for jobseekers to want a new job that fits neatly into their existing skillset. Unfortunately, this economy may prove fatal to entire sectors, which may force people outside of their comfort zones. Besides that, the fact is that the job market may never have been more competitive than it is now. For this reason, new skills, training, and a positive mindset may be keys in making a better tansition.

3. Network, networking, and more networks. And no, this does not refer to anything in tech. Whether in a recession or not, person-to-person referrals are almost always cited as the best way to find a job by HR professionals. Volunteering for activities, such as community service, not only provides a great way to meet people who just might "know someone", but will also fill time in a productive (job-like) manner.

4. Carefully review all paperwork. When a person is laid off, they may be offered (ideally) some form of severance. Sometimes employers ask their employees to fill out various forms and/or waivers, in exchange for severance packages. Such paperwork should be reviewed carefully, and consultation with an attorney may be wise if there are any concerns.

5. Maintain health insurance. The law allows for employees who had health insurance through their employer to maintain such benefits, although they will have to foot the cost of the premiums themselves. This expense is nothing compared to being caught without insurance in an emergency, however, and will probably cost less than buying a personal policy.

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