Yes, You Can Survive a Layoff, Part 2

By Diana Palmieri

Borge Ousland is a polar explorer who was the first person to ski alone and unassisted through Antarctica. I guess that was not enough, so he took a ski and swim trek—alone–across the Artic Ocean. There were many extraordinary feats after that, and still more on his schedule to come. Ousland said the skills he used to pursue his goals are applicable to the struggles of daily life: “It’s something we all have in common. We have to challenge ourselves and put up some commands and reach them.” That being said, we move to the employment arena, which can certainly be compared to the Artic–icy cold and unknown.  Borge did not go into his expeditions with his eyes closed. He prepared, and so should you.

Preparing for your job search begins with polishing and dusting off your resume. The resume is the first thing a potential employer will see and gather information about you.  You want it to look good, be precise, and not be long winded. Monster and Career Builder offer great resume tips on their Web sites. You can also use the tools within Microsoft Word or other word processing programs to guide you. (You can even get a book from the library on the topic.) If all else fails, you can pay someone to write it for you. Bottom line: You want this to look great and stand out from other folks applying for the same job. Also, look over your resume prior to handing it in. I know someone who quickly printed a copy of his resume of the printer and ran off to an interview. The computer had a virus and inserted the word “wazoo” every couple of paragraphs. The potential employer wanted to know what “wazoo” meant. You can bet that was the end of the interview. Yikes! Proofread, proofread, proofread!

Get yourself noticed with social media. After you have your resume updated and perfected, let people know you are looking. Facebook and Linked In fit perfect into this!  Everyone knows someone who is on Linked In or Facebook. Get yourself out there! Monster and Career Builder are also two great places to post your resume as well. 

Interview often. Interviewing can be unnerving, especially if it’s been awhile since you’ve been out there. It’s important for you to get out there and “practice.” The first job you go and interview for may not be the job you want or will accept. Going on several interviews may make you feel more comfortable with questions. Much like your resume, the answers to employers’ questions should be precise and not long winded. Also check out this book by Ron Fry called 101 Great Answers To The Toughest Interview Questions. One of the first and foremost things the author addresses is you. You really need to know about you before you step into an interview. An older version of this book is on my shelf, and I advise you to check it out. 

Some Short-Term Cash Solutions:

• Go Temping! The first time my husband lost his job, he went to a temp agency.  For what it’s worth, they pay pretty well. Those temp jobs got us through and paid more than the unemployment did. Monster and Career Builder do post temp jobs and their agencies. Also look online for temp agencies in your area and call. You have nothing to lose and money to gain.

• Consulting. Ask your former employer if it needs a consultant. Two people I know who were laid off within the past year both did some consulting work for their former employers and made some decent cash. Also look to other firms in your field and inquire about consultant work. You can use this on your resume, and it looks good to a future potential employer.

• Sell Your Jewelry. Unless you don’t read the newspapers or watch TV, you would know that gold prices are at an all-time high. Go through that jewelry box; you might be surprised at what you find. Gold purchasers will take pretty much anything and pay you for it. A woman I work with went through her jewelry box and discovered some old broken chains, some mismatched earrings, and an old wedding band and got $900! No kidding! That was a few months ago; with gold now topping out at all-time highs, you have nothing to lose here. 

• Have a Garage Sale. You’ve heard the old saying “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” You’d be surprised what you can sell and make money off of.  You might also consider selling some of your stuff on eBay. You never know who wants your old stuff, and what they’ll pay for it! There are some independent eBay sellers who have storefronts who will sell your stuff for you for a fee too. You will have a clean, organized house when you start your new job and some cash in your pocket.  

Quite frankly, being unemployed is a real bummer and will sap the energy and sanity right out of you, if you let it. It’s very tempting to stay in bed in the fetal position, but you know that this is not the solution. Believe it or not, this could be positive and a chance to discover more about you and where you want to be. Stay around people who are positive and support you, get out of the house, and keep your chin up. This is not permanent.

I will close with a great quote from Borge Ousland: “Never give up, even if all seems hopeless. Never give up.” 

 

Diana Palmieri is dually registered with Vanderbilt Securities LLC and H Beck Inc., which are unaffiliated. Securities offered through Vanderbilt Securities LLC, member SIPC/FINRA/MSRB. 
 

Yes, You Can Survive a Layoff, Part 1

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By Diana Palmieri

It seems everywhere you turn, someone knows somebody who got laid off. This is not uncommon, especially with the unemployment rate hovering around 10 percent for the past two years. 

About eight years ago, my husband got laid off from his job two weeks before we were set to close on a house (and, thankfully, he had another job three weeks after we closed).  Prior to that, when we lived in our first apartment together many years back, he lost his job just three months after we moved in. He did not find a job for eight months. I know what it’s like and remember those feelings of angst, but we pulled together and got through it. I also told my husband we aren’t moving again because that seems to be the kiss of death.

You can survive a layoff; you just have to be alert and on top of things. Let’s start with three ways to be proactive: Benefits, Healthcare, and Budget.

 

 

 Benefits

Obviously, the first step is to apply for unemployment benefits. You can go down in person to your state unemployment office or apply online or over the phone. You will need to give some specific information about yourself; after approval, you usually receive a payment within two to three weeks. This can continue for 26 weeks and can be extended; if you are out of work longer you can apply for Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC). Contact your state unemployment office to find out about these extended benefits.

Healthcare

Find out about your healthcare benefits and what your choices are. You may be eligible for COBRA (depending on the size of your company and active participants within the plan) or to add yourself onto your spouse’s insurance. COBRA can be very expensive as you pay your share and the employer’s share of the insurance, along with an administrative fee.

There is also catastrophic insurance, which covers major medical (think surgeries or a hospital stay) but not routine care. The premiums are low, but they don’t cover pre-existing conditions and have higher deductibles. I also found a Web site sponsored by the Foundation for Health Coverage Education (coverageforall.org), which offers information on different programs within your state. If you do not have coverage and God forbid something happens, you can always ask the medical facility treating you for financial assistance.

My husband did not have any coverage when he was out of work many years ago and–you guessed it–had to go to the ER. He cut his hand open on a knife and required stitches. Thankfully, it was not that serious, but still we spent money we did not have. We applied for assistance through the hospital and they covered the entire bill. 

My brother had a more severe issue. He, too, was out of work when he suffered from chest pains about two years ago (thankfully he was fine). He spent the night in the hospital with no benefits and ended up with quite a bill. I told him to go down to billing and explain his situation. Although they did not cover his entire hospital stay, they worked out a plan that included several discounts and a payment plan. Today, he is gainfully employed and almost through paying off his debt to the hospital.

Budget

I’ve said the word budget many times, and this would be the most important time to put one in place–ASAP. The average person looking for work searches for about 35 weeks.  Start by putting together what money is coming in (think severance, spousal income).  Put a list together of all your bills, with priorities at the top. Look for what you can reduce, such as converting your cable “super” package to basic, removing texting and other frilly features from cell phones, or getting yourself on a balanced billing program with the electric company. All of these things add up.

You should also give some thought to what could happen should you be unemployed for an extended time. Take a look at savings, retirement plans, or perhaps an existing home equity line of credit. Keep in mind the following:

• An existing home equity line of credit will require you to make payments immediately; you don’t want to miss a payment and put your home at risk.
• A retirement plan, namely an IRA, if tapped before the age of 59½ will be subject to taxes and penalties. Do your research, and ask your tax preparer about this option.
• Some retirement plans (like a 401K) have the option of taking a hardship withdrawal. Get in touch with the plan administrator to find out the details; there are several definitions of hardship.
• If you decide to lean on a credit card, proceed with caution and choose purchases wisely. Be aware of your APR, and be sure to start paying down this debt as soon as you start working again.  

Remember the old proverb “This too shall pass”? I said that to myself every day during those times. Keep the lines of communication open with your family. Talk about what’s going on and what’s being cut back, and remind them that it’s temporary. You need to stick together. Take a deep breath, be proactive, and focus on the future.

The information in this article is not intended to be tax or legal advice, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties.  You are encouraged to seek tax or legal advice from an independent professional advisory.

Diana Palmieri is dually registered with Vanderbilt Securities LLC and H Beck Inc., which are unaffiliated. Securities offered through Vanderbilt Securities LLC, member SIPC/FINRA/MSRB.