11/03/2008

How To: Survive Layoffs Pt. 2

The dust has settled and I, your humble blogger, am still gainfully employed. In all honesty, I wasn't terribly worried. My review from last year went well, and this year was looking better. I'd even earned a couple bonuses YTD and am in good standing peers and supervisors alike.

I really had little to worry about other than the fact that you never know how they go about selecting the unlucky few. Sometimes you'll hear afterward, sometimes not. This was the latter. The only explanation is that they just scratched the surface, and if more layoffs come, then a pattern may start to arise. As I said in Pt. 1, there is little you can do now, and anything you do, will likely only make matters worse. That is, unless you can find a few million to take out of the product costs - immediately.

I'll live to fight another day. Will we face another round come Q4 end? Who knows.

But let's say, it is your time, and as noted by Seestellar in the comments of the first post, you know it is coming. Then what?


Consider yourself lucky. Kinda. You at least have some time to prepare. Take advantage.

Get Your Financial House in Order
- Where are you? Are you clueless, struggling, stable, succeeding?

  1. Budgeting - Do you have a monthly budget that you actually follow through on? If not, then now is the time to start. And while you need to know where your money is going now, you also need to see how your monthly finances will look post-layoff. What does it look like if you go from two incomes to one? Can you survive on one? Will you need to work part-time? Will you need to scale back your lifestyle? Sell your house? You need to know.
  2. Debt - Debt is always a burden on your finances. Trouble is, lenders have dialed in the terms so that you don't feel it as much when everything is A-OK. There is no good debt. Each is a liability - another weight holding you down. Don't wait until the payments are unbearable to address your debts. As much as I want you to start the debt-snowball and get out of debt, right now we're going to put that on hold until your situation is stable. A storm is coming, and you're going to need an umbrella.
  3. Emergency Funds - Clouds are on the horizon - the emergency fund will be your harbor in the tempest. It's time to pile up cash and that budget you just put together will help you determine just how much you can put back each month. Any readily accessible, FDIC insured account will do. In these crazy financial times, know that your local banks or credit unions are far safer than the mega-banks. Save as much as you can, as fast as you can.
  4. Retirement Accounts - Don't forget about these. Once you are laid-off, you'll want to roll these, either to a traditional IRA or a SEPP IRA - depending on what your next carrer move is. A good financial adviser can help you through that. Whatever you do, do not rob these accounts. Early distributions or loans against them can mean steep penalties and the fact that your principle is no longer pumping out returns.
Get the Rest of Your House in Order - Those looking at just the financials are missing about three-fourth's of what's going on here.
  1. The Search Begins - What are you going to do with your life? Is this the time to stay home with the kids. It may be. God has a plan, we just occasionally need a nudge. When I was laid-off, we had the good fortune of being able to survive on one income. Uncertain for what I would do next, we decided that I should take some time and become a stay-at-home-dad. What do you want to be if and when you grow up? Maybe this is the time for a career change, or the time to start freelance work for yourself. What ever you decide, be ready. Get that resume polished up. The sooner you get another job (assuming you want one), the sooner that 2 month severance package starts to look like a big bonus.
  2. Keep the House Together - You and your family are about to go through a lot of emotions - fear, rejection, shame, guilt, failure, paranoia, anger. Remember what is important - you, your family, your spouse. Talk about everything. Cry if you need to. Make an appointment with your pastor and get some spiritual guidance. Pray. Employers will come and go, but don't let the stress and emotions of this even destroy your marriage or drive a wedge between you and your loved ones.
  3. Reflect - Spend some time in reflection. Just you. No TV, no spouse, no friends, no kids. Take the time to unpack the baggage and re-center yourself. Make sure your priorities are straight. Look at this event as an opportunity - how can you take advantage? Look back on your former employ - what would you do different? What will you look for in your next job? Don't rush into something because you think that you have to. If you do, consider it temporary and don't stop looking.
  4. Accept Support - I was impressed to hear about how my company was handling the layoffs. They weren't just handing out checks and booting people out. They were offering placement services galore. As always, it's not what you do necessarily, but how you do it. They've been handling these very respectfully, and you've got to appreciate that. Take what they offer you - severance, services, whatever.
This is one of those times when you really need to lean on your support network - family, friends, church... Not necessarily in the financial sense, but the emotional sense. This hurts. Even as well as my company is apparently handling these layoffs, it still hurts.

Has you company been going through layoffs as well? How have they been handled?

1 comments:

seestellar said...

Congratulations on surviving! Just to confirm what you mention on the support network, I definitely encourage anyone facing this -- or affected by someone else's layoff -- to look for community resources. Here in Phoenix, there are at least a half dozen groups of varying sizes dedicated to people in transition. I've found them great sources for networking -- and great touchstones to keep me focused on the next logical step.

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