Living and surviving through a layoff

Many of you may be in the midst of navigating a layoff.

I feel a kindred spirit with you, as I am living through the third layoff in my career.

A wide range of thoughts and emotions happen during this time. Although well intentioned, friends and family members often struggle for words of support.

So let’s take a few minutes to validate you in your journey.

Most likely, the reason for the layoff was a fiscal decision by the company – not a personal affront of your value to the organization. Please remember that fact, as our sense of self and identities often are entwined with our work.

Once you receive the news, process what was said and find boxes to take your belongings home, a rush of questions will race through your head.

What should I do first? How will my family take the news? How will I pay the bills? And the repeating echo of “Why me?” So let’s make a plan to begin.

Make certain you sign up for COBRA at your place of work if you are not covered by another policy – and especially if you have a pre-existing condition. Legally, the company is required to offer its package at your cost for 18 months.

As soon as you get home, go immediately online to apply for unemployment. When the application is completed, know there is a “waiting week” that will not be covered for any payments. Know that unemployment monies are only a portion of the wage you received in a paycheck.

Although you may be eligible for 52 weeks of compensation, understand that it is dispersed in 26-week blocks – and there are requirements you must adhere to completing. When unemployment monies run out at 26 weeks, you may be eligible for very short-term benefits through emergency unemployment funds. After that, you have at least two months to wait until you can apply again.

Connect with CareerLink immediately and post your resume. Look at all the services they offer, and search their databases and training programs often.

I will not sugarcoat it, as finding a new job is not an easy task. Be diligent in a daily search. I continue to go on websites of organizations I would like to work for, use and CareerLink services, check newspaper listings and network with people.

Now let’s look at the personal ripple effect of a layoff. I know many people who spend time thinking about how they can “forgive” the people at their company for this decision.

After three times of going through this, my best advice is to focus on “acceptance” versus forgiveness. Although it feels personal, it’s a professional relationship that ended.

This can be a time of grieving, confusion, lack of balance, anxiety, self-exploration and more.

Remember to be kind to yourself in your thoughts and actions. Recent medical studies revealed that people experiencing layoffs are at a higher risk for heart attacks; and the more times this has happened in your career, the greater the risk.

Make a routine for your day. Know that your sleep patterns may change. Take care of your health as you need to be ready and available for work each day, in order to receive your unemployment compensation.

Network with others about opportunities. Invest in free or low cost educational programs to expand your skill sets. And schedule some “care time” for you each day, even if it’s a cup of coffee with a friend.

If you are the head of household as I am, there is an extra stress to take care of those individuals, and the house, cars, etc. This, along with all the other areas of stress and concern, is where my faith holds me together. I take time to pray a lot – AND I pray for those that are less fortunate than I am, or those going through difficult times.

You’ve probably already looked at part-time work, signing up with a temporary agency, finding a headhunter and more. If anything from this column, I want to validate that your anxiety is well understood.

I especially want to tell you that your value in this world has not diminished, and your identity is based on who you are – not your work title.

Many people have said to me “Well, you still make money writing for the newspaper.” I calmly answer that the columns I have written over the years have all been on a volunteer basis. My actual point in telling you this, is to suggest that volunteerism is an excellent thing to participate in, whether employed or not.

May you create an increased level of acceptance for the new path you are on. May you find unknown resources that assist in your journey. May you walk with your head held high, grace and dignity. And may you know that you are respected for the work you do every day, to find the next step in your career.

I truly appreciate what you’re dealing with each day, and pray you hear good news very, very soon. God bless you and yours. And always remember you have great value in this world.

Langley may be reached at life@ Her column is published on the first Sunday of each month.