|Don't become a couch potato |
during your layoff.
A layoff is never fun, but many people say their layoff ended up being a good thing. Sometimes the layoff released them from a job they were ready to leave or no longer liked. Some people find better jobs in terms of pay, opportunity, or enjoyment. I have been laid off and took the perspective that it was good to have change in my life.
So how can you make a layoff pay off for your future? You should, of course, focus on your job search and career after a layoff. But you also can use your layoff to make other changes and improvements in your life. The key to using a layoff well is to make good use of your free time. Here are 12 ideas for employing your time wisely to make your layoff pay off, both professionally and personally.
- Take time to breathe. After working full time, you may feel as if you need a break before launching into your job search. So take a break, but make it short. You don’t want to get too comfortable or lazy. You don’t want your job skills to atrophy. Many people who stay out of the workforce too long find it more difficult to get hired. A job search may take longer than you think it will. When you do get back to work, make it a habit to relax every day and avoid burnout.
- Don’t be embarrassed. Be sure to tell everyone you know about your job status. You never know where your next opportunity will come from. Layoffs are common and nothing to be embarrassed about. Plus, from now on, you will be able to relate to others who have been laid off with greater understanding, support, and compassion.
- Develop good personal finance habits. Be careful not to increase your debt during a layoff. Budget any severance pay you may receive from your former employer. Apply for unemployment compensation with your state. Meet with your family and review your budget. Look for ways to save money and raise cash. Take on part-time or freelance work until you can find a new job. When you do get a new job, keep up your budgeting and saving habits.
- Think about what you really want to do. Now is the time to consider whether you want to stay in the same field and the same type of job. Consider what you are good at and enjoy, what skills you possess, and what type of organizations and workplaces might suit you best. Take free career assessments from the U.S. Department of Labor online at myskillsmyfuture.org and mynextmove.org. Research jobs, salaries, prospects, and much more at www.bls.gov/ooh and www.onetonline.org, two useful career research sites also from the U.S. Department of Labor.
- Conduct an active job search. Engage in an active job hunt, which means that you go beyond applying for job after job online. Learn about active job searching from this blog and other resources. Active job hunts include contacting employers directly and networking to learn about unadvertised openings. Make an active job search the focus of your layoff to get hired sooner rather than later.
- Practice interview skills. Job interviews get you hired. So learn common interview questions and how to respond to them. Rehearse explaining your skills and how they will help employers prosper. Be sure to thank and follow up with potential employers.
- Develop new job skills. What skills will help you get and keep a new job? For example, do you need to brush up on computer skills or learn social media? Learn about the skills required for jobs that interest you at www.bls.gov/ooh. Then find ways to learn those skills through self-study, online workshops, and classes at your library or at a local adult education or community college program. Many classes may be free or low cost. Also inquire at your local Career One-Stop/American Job Center whether you are eligible for free training as a laid-off worker. See my previous post on 35 Ways to Learn and Hone a New Skill for ideas on skill development.
- Pursue accomplishments for your resume. What would make your resume more impressive? Perhaps you can add something new to your resume, such as starting a blog or volunteering at a nonprofit organization. These activities will also help you develop new skills and contacts and keep your resume current.
- Join professional groups and organizations. Your career field may have professional groups that will help you meet new people, network for opportunities, stay current, and offer opportunities for professional development. Also look for relevant LinkedIn groups to learn and share information. Be sure to add professional groups to your resume if they are applicable to the jobs you are seeking. Keep up connections you make throughout your career.
- Reconnect with family and friends. In our busy lives, it’s easy to put people on the back burner. Make an effort to reach out to and reconnect with your family and friends. You may learn of new job opportunities and get emotional support during this period of change and transition. From now on, avoid losing touch with those most important to you.
- Get involved in projects you've put off. Everyone has unfinished projects or new ones to take on. Although your job search should be your main focus, you will still have lots of free time. Use it to finally finish those old projects or start projects you’ve always wanted to do. You will gain a sense of accomplishment. Most important of all, please don’t become a couch potato!
- Get healthy and active. It’s easier to get healthier if you have time to exercise and make good meals. So plan to use your layoff to enhance your health and develop healthy habits.