What to Do if You’re Unexpectedly Laid Off

CareerNovember 09, 2022 16:00

In the wake of economic uncertainties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, many businesses have been struggling to remain profitable. Even tech giants are not immune, with at least six tech firms carrying out retrenchment exercises in 2022.

Have you also been caught by surprise and laid off by your company? It is understandable to be in shock. Take a deep breath and calm yourself down—there are several steps you can take to mitigate the damage and get yourself back on track.

Steps to take if you’re unexpectedly laid off

First and foremost, maintain a high level of professionalism throughout, be it during your last days or after you have left the company. Refrain from badmouthing the company, your manager or colleagues; you do not want to burn any bridges. Furthermore, do not forget to clarify the amount of retrenchment benefits you are entitled to. Beyond such administrative matters, you can politely ask your manager for an official testimonial letter which will aid you in your subsequent job search.

Retrenchment comes with a loss of income—you will have to tide through a period whereby you tap on your emergency saving funds. During this period of unemployment, it is crucial for you to conduct a rigorous audit of your regular expenses and adjust your budget accordingly. While you still need to spend on necessities like rent, groceries and utilities, consider if you can cut out some discretionary spending. For instance, can you dine less often at restaurants or cancel your monthly gym membership?

Moreover, if you currently have any debt obligations, you should focus on clearing them. Thoroughly analyse your debt obligations, prioritising those loans with higher interest rates. The key is to continue making loan repayments even when you are unemployed—if you cease paying, accrued interest will snowball over time and entrench you further in debt.

While you take time to assess your financial priorities, do not neglect self-care. Getting retrenched can be a traumatising experience. Many people who are laid off experience a vast range of feelings from panic to depression—and even anger. Allow yourself to feel these emotions without suppressing them.

Remember that macroeconomic conditions and factors outside of your control led to your retrenchment; it does not in any way reflect on your competence and ability at work. If you find yourself struggling to cope, approach your family and friends for support and encouragement. Seeking professional help from a therapist is another option you can consider.

Once you have processed your emotions and are ready to move on, you can review your career goals. Is your next step to pursue reskilling opportunities and enrol in skills upgrading programs? Alternatively, do you want to immediately start searching for new employment opportunities?

If so, begin by updating your resume and LinkedIn profile. You can reach out to your professional network and see if the contacts in your current field have promising job leads. You can also look for job postings online by browsing the various job portals.

When you are laid off, your first instinct might be to hop onto the first job offer you receive, even if it is low-paying or ill-suited to you. Resist that urge of settling for anything less out of a fear of unemployment. It is important that you know your value and what you can offer as an employee to prospective employers.

Keep an open mind, taking comfort in the fact that this is a temporary setback which you will overcome. If you need career guidance, don’t hesitate to speak to our Career Advisers today!

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How to Write a Winning Cover Letter
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