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Down and Out

What to Do When You're Downsized

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I recently talked to someone who had relocated to New York City for a job with what he thought was a well-funded start-up company. He had what seemed like a great job, an excellent salary and, of course, oodles of stock options. Six months later, the stock options were almost worthless, the company is laying-off, and it looks like he might be next.

What if you have a premonition that you might be next? Review information on how to handle a layoff. Plan ahead and ask what benefits terminated employees are eligible for.

If you've already been laid-off and haven't been informed about benefits, call the Human Resources department at your former employer or your manager to request information on the status of your benefits:

  • Ask about severance pay, accrued vacation and sick pay, pension benefits, and eligibility for unemployment insurance.
  • If you have stock ask what will happen to unvested options.
  • Request information on continuance of health and life insurance benefits. Your employer, if the firm has over 20 employees, is mandated by law to offer health insurance coverage through COBRA to terminated employees at your expense.
  • Ask about outplacement resources.
  • Request a reference letter for your files.

Refocus your energy and use this unexpected windfall of time as an opportunity to reassess your career goals and to get on track to find a new position. Many job seekers have turned a termination into a positive experience. A forced departure from a job has often opened a path to a new, more satisfying, and better paying career that wouldn't have been considered under other circumstances.

Take Care of the Basics
An important task for those unemployed, and for that matter, for all job seekers, is to create a Job Search Action Plan. Before you can implement the plan, however, you need to take care of the basics. The most important issue, in most cases, is income. File for unemployment, if you haven't done so, then consider other ways to supplement your income.

Start a Job Search
Here are all the resources you'll need for a successful job search including how to write resumes, CVs, cover letters and other employment letters, where to look for jobs, how to conduct a job search, and how to interview successfully and negotiate compensation.

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