Dealing With a Layoff
DEALING WITH A LAYOFF
Laid off? Here’s what you can do next.
1. Be kind to yourself
Losing your job is hard, even if it was expected. Your routine, your income, even your identity gets upended with a job loss. Be easy on yourself (within reason - laying in bed eating cookies for two weeks probably isn’t the best plan) and acknowledge this is a stressful life change. Rely on your usual healthy stress fighters – exercise, good sleep habits and enjoyable activities.
2. Stay in motion
Newton’s first law of motion provides some good advice when it comes to looking for a new job: “An object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”
"Knowing your budget and keeping track of it will make you feel more in control, and help you make smarter decisions about what you are spending your money on. That’s true at anytime, but especially during a challenging situation or life change."
Meaghan Neis, Branch Manager at Mountain View Financial, a division of Connect First Credit Union
Make sure you stay in motion. It will make you feel better and help you through the job search process. Here are a few ways you can maintain momentum:
Leverage your network: Update your LinkedIn profile and reach out to friends and former colleagues to let them know you’re looking for a new opportunity.
Brag a little: Write out a list of your strengths and accomplishments - it will give you a boost of confidence, and you can use it when you update your resume.
Upskill: Look into classes or certifications that can help fortify your qualifications. There are free or low-cost online learning options available, or government programs that could help you change directions completely.
Cast your net wide: You may be surprised how much is available. Alumni associations, professional and trade associations, LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com) or Coursera.org, public libraries, or companies like Google and HubSpot. And with the post-pandemic switch to online learning, you may be able to look at courses and opportunities farther afield.
Reach out: If you are thinking of changing careers, see if you can find someone in the field that you can talk with and ask questions.
Take time to reflect on your goals and what you want your next job to be, and how that factors into your job search. It may mean looking for something temporary so you have more time to figure things out, or it could be deciding to devote more time into starting or growing your own business.
"See this as an opportunity to widen your options,” says Meaghan Neis, branch manager, Mountain View Financial, a division of Connect First Credit Union, in Didsbury. “Is there a way you can transfer your skills to another field? Or pursue something new? Talk to friends and family and keep an open mind about what could be next.”
It’s easy to lose your confidence and feel down when you lose your job. Just remember this is the first page of your next chapter and an opportunity to set yourself in a better direction.
3. Figure out income
The stress of losing a steady income can be multiplied by 100 if you don’t have a solid handle on your financial situation going forward.
Understand severance: If you receive severance, understand how much it is, when and how you will receive it and how much will be withheld for income taxes.
Double-check: Check your final pay stub to ensure you are compensated for banked vacation time or pre-paid benefits.
Finalize your claims: Many employers offer a Health Spending Account (HSA), and you can often claim the premiums that are deducted from your paycheque against your HSA, which can amount to a few hundred dollars. Be sure to mail in the form through your employer’s benefits provider.
Investigate government assistance: Investigate what government assistance you could qualify for. If your layoff was related to the COVID-19 pandemic, research whether the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or employment insurance benefits is your best option. Pull together the paperwork and information you need to apply and research how long it will take for it to process so you know when you should start receiving benefits.
You should also consider other forms of income:
Do you have an emergency fund or savings you can use?
Are there investments you should look at selling?
Do you have a second job or side hustle that you could devote more time to now and beef up your income?
Although not a pleasant exercise, understanding how much income you’ll have while looking for a new job will help you navigate the rest.
4. Adjust your budget
Now it’s time to review and prioritize your budget. If you don’t already have a monthly budget, go through your spending over the past two or three months using your credit and debit card statements, and figure out spending categories and your average monthly spend from there.
“Knowing your budget and keeping track of it will make you feel more in control, and help you make smarter decisions about what you are spending your money on,” says Neis. “That’s true at anytime, but especially during a challenging situation or life change.”
Figure out your necessary expenses (e.g. housing, food, phone) to develop a ‘bare bones’ budget. Take a closer look at those and see if there are ways to reduce them, such as cutting back on your groceries or changing your home Internet plan.
“If you dig into your budget, you will find ways to save money or defer spending that will make things easier for you,” says Neis.
Explore payment or deferral options
If you have job loss insurance on your mortgage, you may be able to defer mortgage payments for a period of time, check out our Member Relief Program if you were affected financially by the COVID-19 pandemic. Or, if you have a Home Equity Line of Credit and have the option to make interest-only payments for a while, you may want to look at that. Some Alberta municipalities are also offering deferrals or assistance on property taxes for people experiencing financial hardship.
Next up is looking at expenses you can cut from your budget while you are out of work, such as cleaning services, yard care, dry cleaning, cable TV or subscriptions, or personal care expenses. Identify expenditures you can press pause on, like home improvements or vacation plans.
Consider your existing debts
Beyond your mortgage, what other debts are you repaying? Are you able to reduce or postpone payments temporarily while you look for work? It is not the time to start using your credit cards, but it may be time to lower repayments temporarily. If you are paying off student loans, contact the loan provider(s) and see if you qualify for repayment assistance. If you are a two-income family, and your partner is still making a steady income, you may be able to consolidate debt and lower your overall debt payments.
Now review the rest of your expenses. Some utility providers are currently offering payment relief or deferrals if you have lost your job. There are a lot of resources out there on cutting monthly expenses, so we won’t belabor the points here, but remember this is temporary and that there are likely a lot of things you can do to save money in the meantime.
5. Don’t let things fall through the cracks
Losing your job can feel like a whirlwind, so it can be difficult to keep track of all the details. But you want to avoid a “gotcha” later on.
If you were counting on employer-provided life or disability insurance to protect you and your family, you may need to seek coverage on your own.
Keep track of any tax liabilities – government assistance benefits are taxable, and if you cash in RRSPs, those are taxable too.
Reach out to your former manager and ask if they will provide a reference for you and, if so, get a non-work email address and phone number from them so you can still get in contact, even if they’re laid off or move on to another company.
Keep your paperwork organized and in a safe place and regularly open and review your mail and emails.
6. Find your community
As a credit union, we passionately believe in the power and strength of community. While it’s hard to share the news you’ve lost your job, your family and friends will be your greatest allies in supporting you through this transition. They’ll help lift your spirits when you need it and be part of the network of people who will help you find your next opportunity. With the help of funding from Connect First Credit Union, YMCA Calgary has created a new virtual portal with resources to help your mind, body and spirit.
We understand that being laid off is one of the most difficult life changes you can face, and that you might be nervous to come to your financial institution for help. We encourage you to reach out to us so we can work together towards your financial future. We’re here to help.