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Do you know what to do when you're laid off?

Nina Spitzer is a SheKnows.com columnist and a freelance writer living in sunny Cave Creek, Arizona.

Think before seeing pink!

These days, everyone's worried about the possibility of seeing PINK … a pink slip, that is. Needless to say, the prospects of being laid off can be daunting. Our attitude and mindset before and after a layoff can, however, make all the difference in the world.

Avoid pink slips!A good driving instructor will tell you to always be looking ahead of your car and not just as far as your front bumper. This is also good advice in these tenuous economic times, when looking and planning ahead can turn the potential disaster of a layoff into an opportunity instead.

Be prepared

  • Always have a polished and updated, digital version of your resume and cover letter available.
  • A professional email address is important – "cutsiepie" or "wonderwoman" may get your resume trashed.
  • Keep your list of references current. Select ones who can present you, your accomplishments and your career potential in the best light.
  • Make networking a habit. Jot down notes on the back of business cards you receive. You'll never know when they'll come in handy.
  • Maintain healthy personal finances. Keep a strict budget and pay off credit cards each month. You'll be glad you did if you find yourself without a job.
  • Feed your nest egg with each paycheck. A substantial savings account will make a brief period of unemployment seem less scary.
  • Don't ever keep anything personal on your work computer or email.

During the layoff

  • Be sure to take only personal items home with you.
  • Clean your computer and e-mail of every bit of personal information. (This shouldn't even be on your computer – ever.)
  • Make certain the amounts on your final paycheck and severance package are absolutely correct. Don't let your emotions cloud your judgment.
  • Stock options that have reached the vesting point need to be examined carefully with your HR director.
  • Don't sign anything unless you understand 100% of its content. Ask questions, but delaying the signing will only hurt the references they may provide.
  • Leave on good terms. This may help you later.

After you walk out the door

  • Assess your personal finances, then plan your spending and next course of action accordingly.
  • Health insurance for you and your family is a very important consideration during your period of unemployment. (Medical bills have sent many people deeply into debt.) So find out: What are your options, and how much will it cost?
  • Construct a daily work schedule. Looking for a job is a job, so treat it that way.
  • Look into your state's qualifications for unemployment insurance. It may take some time to process the paperwork, so you want to get this going as soon as possible.
  • Think about a part-time position, consulting or temp work as a supplement during your search for a new position, BUT FIRST check your state's unemployment insurance regulations on part time income.
  • Remember your 401(K) is your retirement security. As tempting as it may be to dip into it – Don't!
  • Move your 401k to an account you can control. Don't leave it in the company's plan where they manage your money.

Your job search

  • Weigh the pros and cons of staying in your current field or making a career change to a more secure market.
  • Evaluate your career skills. This might be the perfect time to take some community college classes to help fill the gaps.
  • Take advantage of college placement counselors.
  • Use multiple recruiters to help you in your search.
  • Tap into your networking resources for possible job opportunities. (Who do you know? Where are they? How can they help you?)
  • Explore all online job resources.
  • Practice interview techniques.
  • Read industry newsletters and journals for possible leads.
  • Professional organizations all have a career page on their websites. Check them out!
  • Keep all job search related receipts -- they are tax deductible!

Sites like indeed.com and Simplyhired.com are index websites that go out and draw vacancies from all the job boards everywhere. Put in your area of search and both sites will send emails whenever a vacancy is posted in your chosen professional areas. The only main site it doesn't pick up on is craigslist.org.


Cut yourself some slack

As prepared as you may be for a layoff, it's still an emotional time in your life. Understand that feelings such as anger, sadness and confusion are only natural. Allowing family and friends to be your support system will help see you through this transitional time.

Keep a positive outlook

Remember: A layoff can open the door to a whole new and exciting chapter in your life! Just keep a level head, a positive attitude and have your vision focused on what might be up ahead.

Related articles

Thinking about making a career move?
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