Laid Off 101

I started this blog at an interesting transition point in my life: I was just laid off!

I worked for my previous employer for 20 years, progressing from a bright-eyed graduate engineer to middle management. In those 20 years, I went through 9 different job roles in 6 cities in 3 countries. I thoroughly enjoyed my career and have no regrets but thanks to COVID 19 and the turmoil in the industry, my current job role was eliminated.

So the fact remains that I've been laid off. Now what? Here's my Laid Off 101 AKA 10 things to do after you've been laid off.

10 Things To Do After You've Been Laid Off

  1. Termination Paperwork: Read and sign all termination documents from your previous employer unless you want to dispute the terms of the termination in which case, call a labor lawyer and don't sign anything. (Not the case for me)
  2. Health Benefits: If you had health benefits from your employer here is the time to activate plan B. Some health insurance providers will provide you with the option of continuing some form of coverage while paying the premium out of pocket. Another option is to move to your partner's health insurance if that's an option. Most employer-provided health plans allow you to change selected options when there's been a major life event. Losing coverage from your spouse's health insurance counts as a major life event.
  3. Life Insurance: Similar to health benefits, most insurance providers will give you the option of converting from a group plan to a personal plan. Depending on your age and pre-existing conditions, it may be cheaper to shop around for your own health insurance instead of doing the conversion.
  4. Retirement Funds: Find out what you can and cannot do with whatever retirement funds you have accrued with your employer. If there's an opportunity to meet with the retirement plan administrator and talk about your options; take it BUT go to that meeting ready to ask questions. The plan administrator may try to sell you on their own funds and products, ask questions about service fees and fund performance. Evaluate if you should keep the funds with the current administrator or move to a different retirement plan administrator including your bank. 
  5. Career Transition Services: Some employers will provide some sort of career transition support service. If that's an option provided to you, leverage it. On the surface, it may seem frivolous but for someone like me who has been out of the job search arena for 20 years, their insights on tools and techniques have been invaluable. 
  6. Cancel Job-Related Expenses: This can include childcare, parking, lunch service etc. Consider even the out-of-the-box expenses like say music subscription. I used to pay for Spotify Premium so I could listen to my music while commuting to work without having to stream on my cellphone data plan. No commute = no need for Spotify Premium.
  7. Reduce Household Expenses: This can take various forms including
    • Deferring any non-urgent expenses e.g summer camp for kids, vacation, renovations etc
    • Renegotiating monthly contracts and utilities e.g home security, internet etc
    • Substituting for cheaper alternatives e.g time at home means buying less of expensive convenience foods and making more meals from scratch. Sit down and teach the kids instead of paying for a tutoring service.
  8. Government Benefits: Sign up for any government benefits you may or may not qualify for. A lot of us Nigerian immigrants are loath to take any form of government assistant because it feels like leeching on the system. CHANGE THAT MINDSET! Employment Insurance has been deducted from your paychecks by the government all these years for such a moment as this. Use it!
  9. Lump Sum Financial Plan: If you're lucky enough to receive some form of lump sum payment as part of your termination, have a plan for how that lump sum will be spent and stick to the plan. This is not the time for impulse purchases. Instead, depending on your situation consider paying off consumer debt like credit cards or car loans, putting in savings for any emergencies or investing if you have no immediate need for the funds. 
  10. Inform Friends And Family: Let the ones closest to you know that you're going through a major event so you don't have to walk the path alone. Unfortunately, a big part of the African immigrant experience is being physically distanced from close family and friends. Still reach out by phone and text so that the ones who love you get the opportunity to support you emotionally and mentally in what could be a trying time. 
Don't try to hero this one alone. 


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