Alexis has worked in human resources and assisted several individuals in finding gainful employment.
The Benefits of Being Laid Off
You may be reading this title and think to yourself, “How can being laid off be beneficial other than free time? Even that’s not a fair trade?” You’re right, it’s not a fair trade. Also, if you want to be truly successful in life, you have to remember to make lemonade out of lemons. That being said, it’s okay to grieve the loss of your job, but remember this:
A Job Does Not Define You as a Person
Jobs may come and go, but there will ALWAYS be more jobs, even if you don’t believe it at the time. Trust me, I had those exact same thoughts when I was laid off. I took the right steps (article) and tapped into my network. I was offered two part-time jobs (one soon after becoming a full-time position) within a month! I was a special case (incredibly lucky, really), but what I’m saying is a positive outlook and realizing that you WILL have a job is critical to minimizing the time needed to find your next job.
Back to our original point: no, the free time you get isn’t ideal, but if you’ve been working a 40+ hour work week (commute time not included), you haven’t had time to really focus on yourself. Now is the time to do that, and maybe that alone is a blessing in disguise. Now, what benefits can you, should you, will you reap?
1. Finally Tackle Your Lingering To-Do List
This may be an obvious one, but there’s more to it than that. Some of the other points in this article will tackle these big benefits with smaller perks. When you get laid off, take some time over the course of week one and think about all the things you’ve been procrastinating on. Have you written your will or updated it? Could one quick phone call save you $100 or more on car insurance? Shouldn’t you finally fix that hole in the wall of the garage?
2. Set Your Own Schedule (If Only for a Short Time)
It’s a tried and true recommendation that finding a job should be your full-time job when you lose your job. Full-time being 32-40 hours. It’s completely true, and this has the double benefit of helping you manage your time more effectively. Start creating a calendar and setting up times for practice interviews, networking, times to search for jobs, work on your resume, etc. Be sure to build in time for days off in order to treat yourself. Also, you should be waking up and going to bed following a similar schedule to the one you held at your former job.
Now there is going to be disagreement here. You’ve been laid off; shouldn’t you be saving money? Well, of course! However, taking time to travel and get away from everything can do wonders for the soul. Hey, you might get a job offer traveling! I have and once worked with a woman who got a cushy New York City job by talking to a stranger on a train. That’s unlikely to happen, but travel itself is incredible. Now I’m not saying go empty your bank account to go to Germany, but an overnight trip to a nearby beach or a couple of days in another state/country can be good. Just know that you’re leaving yourself with financial stability upon your return.
4. Take a (Real) Look at Your Financials
As a teacher, I was working 60+ hours a week, and that wasn’t counting the hour-long commute I had both ways most days. As a result, I didn’t have time to do some things, and there were way too many days I neglected cooking. Or I didn’t do my Swagbucks, MyPoints, etc., rebates because it was another thing to do that I didn’t have time for. In any case, this meant that my typical money-conscious ways went astray.
When you’re unemployed, you become more conscious of how you’re spending your money and more ways to save in the present and future. This means figuring out some money-conscious meals, finding new ways to save that you continue after you have a steady stream of income again, and preparing for the future, financially.
5. Plan Out the Future
You should be saving for retirement. Really, even if it's only $20 going into an IRA, 401K, or savings account. If you haven’t started, make an appointment with a financial planner, investing agency, etc. You should also check on your emergency funds and former employer retirement funds. Those are long-term things, but you should also be taking an inventory of how much money you have, monthly expenses, upcoming bills, and any streams of income you have.
6. Improve Your Overall Health
When you work, especially if you’re working long hours and/or deal with a long commute, your health gets neglected. When I say health, I mean your physical, social-emotional, mental, and spiritual health. Now is a good time to develop a regular workout schedule, make time with loved ones, give yourself positive affirmation (because you are awesome) and find yourself or invest time in practicing your religion (or lack thereof).
When I was working as a teacher, I was stressed out to the max. It showed in my face. One of the first things I did after being laid off was invest time in drinking water, upping my fruit and veggie intake, and boosting my skincare regime. It did wonders and helped my health in other ways too. Future employers will notice it too!
7. Learn a New Skill
Outside of finding a job, you’re likely trying to save money and not going out as much. This free time is ample time to start learning a new skill. Learning a new skill can make you not only more marketable but provide a source of income at some point in the future. Some examples are:
- Learning a new language
- Coding or computer skills
- Woodworking, metalwork or another tradecraft
- Writing and editing
- Video editing
- Social media and marketing skills
8. Meet New People and Network
Rounding out the last benefit on this list is networking. How you get a job used to be as simple as submitting a resume and cover letter. Now, it’s often about who you know. Virtually all of my jobs starting in high school came from someone I knew or a connection. Now is a good time to start going out and meeting new people through meet-up groups, networking events, book signings, etc. The guy at the coffee shop might have the perfect job for you (and I’m not making this up, I’ve seen it happen more than once!)
The extra benefit of networking is that by increasing who you know, you can reduce your time spent looking for a job if you find out your next job is a nightmare or your next job falls through or you find yourself laid off.
Learn About Yourself
I felt that making a section called "finding yourself" didn’t really fit. However, I do want to round out everything by stating that it should be your ultimate goal. Being without a job is horrible, but it can also allow you time to rediscover yourself and your passions. Being laid off, even for a short while, helped me feel like I had control of my life again and sort through things. You will be no different.
If you’re unemployed, take the time to focus on yourself, and take things one day at a time. The going may be tough, but it's through hardship that we discover our paths and get set back on the right track.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2017 Alexis