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What To Do If You’re Laid Off

Layoffs are back in the news, sending hundreds of
Kentuckians to scan the Help Wanted ads and surf the Internet.

At 4 percent, the jobless rate is as high as anytime
in the past 2-1/2 years, but people are finding new jobs quickly.

About four million Americans, or 2.7 percent of the
work force, change jobs each month. Despite the ease of many people to quickly
find new jobs, if you are laid off, you need strategies to stay afloat as you
job hunt.

First of all, call a family powwow and let family
members know what’s happening at the office or factory. Then, reacquaint yourself
with trade groups and associations.

You’ll also want to dust off and update your resume
to make it eye-catching.

Most hiring managers give resumes only a 20-second
screening, so a one-page resume is an advantage, according to Robin Ryan, author
of the book, Winning Resumes. She says employers focus on the "summary
of qualifications" section to find out your top selling points.

List your four strongest relevant skills, abilities,
or knowledge, plus past accomplishments that illustrate them, notes Yana Parker
in her book Damn Good Resume Guide.

And always double-check your resume for spelling
errors, because many employers stop reading when they spot them, says Ryan.

If you do catch the "pink-slip flu," here
are some other tips to survive it:

  • Get your finances in order. Of course, you’ll want to live off your
    severance package first. But if it turns out to be less substantial than you
    had hoped, you’ll need additional funds. Now is the time to use that cash
    cushion of three to six months’ worth of living expenses you put aside several
    years ago when times were flush.

    If you’ve built up sizable equity in your home you may be able to refinance
    and put out cash. Or you may be able to take out a home-equity loan and pay
    it back from your unemployment compensation.

    Don’t take on more credit card debt, and ask other family members to tighten
    their belts, too.

  • Severance. Your package may be negotiable. Take time to think about
    what you want, and don’t hesitate to ask for it. Top of your list: money.
    You’ll probably be offered one or two weeks’ salary for every year of service.
    Ask for more. The longer you’ve been with the company, the more bargaining
    power you have.

    Don’t forget any overtime or vacation you are owed.

  • Insurance. You’ll want your medical and dental to run as long as
    possible, then you’ll need other coverage. If you are married, signing up
    under your spouse’s plan may be the best option.

    If that’s not possible, you may be able to continue the company coverage under
    federal regulations. If the company has 20 or more employees and provides
    group health insurance, it’s required by federal law to let you continue that
    insurance for up to 18 months. However, you’ll probably have to pay for that
    coverage.

  • One last suggestion: "For your emotional health, get eight hours of
    sleep and exercise" after getting the lay-off notice, suggests Ruth Luban,
    author of Are You a Corporate Refugee? A Survival Guide for Downsized,
    Disillusioned and Displaced Workers
    .
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