So you’ve found yourself in a position you never thought you would- without a job, probably for the first time in your adult life. Laid off. Let go. Dismissed from your duties. Call it whatever you want, your position has been eliminated, and you’re left reeling in the aftermath, trying to put the pieces together and wishing you knew the answer to “WHAT DO I DO NEXT?”.

First off, know that you’re not alone. The more people you talk to about this, the more stories you’ll hear about past experiences of the same thing happening to so many others, even ones that you would consider great employees.

With all of the thoughts swirling around in your head and some appropriate panic settling in, here are some suggestions of what to do if you find yourself in this position, from someone who’s been there before.

1. Take some time to process what has happened, a cooling off period. Even if it’s just for a long weekend, take some time to get your thoughts and emotions on the situation in check before you make any major decisions. There will likely be a mark left from the news, but it will only benefit you to burn off any negative energy so you can face your next steps with a positive attitude, rather than carrying the angst around for potential employers to see or making any rash decisions.

2. Make a list of wants and needs. You’ll still need to support yourself, and possibly your family, financially. You probably need to maintain health care access. You may want to use this as an opportunity to change directions professionally. You may want to take some time off to travel, spend time with family, volunteer or even further your education. Your needs are critical but don’t ignore your wants, within reasonable means, as well. Satisfying some of your wants helps to ensure that you are achieving some balance, which will help you in moving on to your next steps in life.

3. Get your affairs in order. With a stack of paperwork in hand upon termination, making the necessary moves toward closure with your previous employer and moving on, is entirely on you.

a. Meet with your financial advisor. He or she can tell you what your new financial plan should be and what flexibility you have going forward.

b. Contact the designated COBRA health insurance provider or get on a spouse’s plan if coverage is needed. Think about if you need to change any medical providers based on changed coverage plans.

c. Rollover any retirement funds into an appropriate account once they become available.

d. You can even call your auto insurance company, notifying them that you no longer commute for work, which should provide a slight cost reduction.

e. Change your contact email for any person or company who used your former email address.

4. Take advantage of any benefits provided to you. EAP or employee assistance can be in the form of outplacement services, a therapist for stress management or even legal and financial consultation. Even if you’re hesitant to receive help, it could be worth your time to sign up for the benefits and explore the options given to you. Once you make some decisions around your career path, EAP can provide helpful tools and resources rather than going it alone. Unemployment benefits vary by state and require some hoops to jump through, but receiving monetary assistance will take some pressure off your debts for a short period if you decide to take this route.

5. Value your support system. Those around you whom you can lean on during what likely is a difficult transition in your life can be a great reminder of all that you do have. Calling on friends to vent about your stresses and having family members to support you can be therapeutic in the healing process. Sometimes all you need is a boost of confidence or a distraction from the obvious situation looming over your head. It’s not easy to ask for help for many people, but you will need some support during this time, and the good ones will be there for you.

Receiving that proverbial pink slip can be a significant blow to your ego and confidence in abilities. One thing I’ve thought about over and over was “Will this devalue me to future employers?”. After talking to many career professionals, I’ve realized that any good hiring manager should understand the nature of the situation and how nobody is truly immune to it happening during the span of their careers. Let your abilities speak for themselves.

It’s a difficult time in your life to face sudden unemployment, especially from workforce reduction and you’re not given any real answers around “Why?”. So often we’re just a number to employers when it comes down to impending layoffs.

Being “let go” feels like being dumped by a boyfriend/girlfriend and you want to yell “I’m not good enough for you?!?! You’re not good enough for me!”, with no one to hear on the receiving end. There will be good days and bad days to follow. Try to remind yourself of what you do have and that this one event DOES NOT DEFINE you!

Take some deep breaths. Do some meditation, if that’s your “thing” but keep your head up so that you can devise a plan for YOUR NEXT MOVE!

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