If you’ve been laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans are losing their jobs as businesses across the country shut their doors or cut back on operations at an unprecedented rate.
If you’ve lost your job or been furloughed, start with these seven steps to regroup and, eventually, rebound.
1. Ask the right questions
The first step is communicating with your employer. There are different types of layoffs. Some may not even be legal, or they may be addressed in your employment contract or collective agreement. Figure out if your employer is willing to commit to your return to work. Knowing the timeline can be very helpful for planning your finances and how you approach the time off.
2. Find the right support
There are multiple programs today to support workers, but be sure to register for unemployment benefits as quickly as possible, as the influx of applicants is causing a backlog. Also, watch for information on further Congressional emergency-response bills, which could entitle you to additional funds.
3. Be professional
In almost all cases, employers are trying to do their best during a difficult situation. How you act will speak volumes about your character, and as tempting as it may be, now really isn’t the time to post negative things on social media. Businesses will rebound; think about how your actions will be remembered.
4. Take care of your mental health
Being laid off can be an overwhelming and stressful experience of loss and change. Make sure you are focusing on your relationships, getting fresh air and exercise, taking time for yourself and know-how and getting up to speed on where to reach out for help if you need it.
5. Write a budget
As overwhelming as it may be, work on a financial plan. Take advantage of the time you have to find other ways to save, like calling your bank, mortgage broker and utility providers to ask to defer payments. Or look for auto subscriptions on your phone or credit cards to cancel. These small amounts can add up and can be empowering, giving you a feeling of control during a very challenging time. Understanding your financial reality may encourage you to decide to seek employment in the few industries that are currently hiring.
6. Stay connected with your employer and coworkers
If your layoff is temporary, I encourage people to stay connected with their team and proactively check in. Empathy and will be remembered when COVID-19 has long passed.
7. Put long-term goals on hold
Now is not the time to worry about the long term. Focus on what can be done in this moment to get through the next few months. Everything will get back on track, but consider planning in 30-to-90-day increments. It’s much less overwhelming and gives you lots of flexibility to embrace opportunities that come your way.
Good luck, and don't lose hope.