Laid Off From Work? How to Cope With Being Unemployed

If you’ve been laid off from work, these tips on how to cope with being unemployed from a financial expert may help. He offers ways to survive unemployment — they’ll help whether you’ve been fired from your job, laid off, or are negotiating a buyout.

“Every recession ends eventually,” says Ethan Ewing. “[If you’ve been laid off from work], stay professional, stay calm and stay prepared so that you can survive whatever the job market throws your way.”

The bottom line? You will survive being unemployed! For more tips on bouncing back from job loss, read Rebound: A Proven Plan for Starting Over After Job Loss by Martha Finney.

And, here are for Ewing’s info on how to cope with being unemployed…

Laid Off From Work? How to Cope With Being Unemployed

1. Before you’re laid off, negotiate a deal. If you have any reason to suspect your company might do layoffs, learn about possible severance packages. If possible, negotiate for a layoff package just as you would for a salary. Ask if you can cash in vacation, sick or personal days; determine how long insurance will run; and look into extension of any other benefits.

2. File for unemployment benefits immediately. Employees who were laid off should qualify for unemployment benefits from their state. File as soon as possible because it could take several weeks to receive a check. Contractors and part-time workers are ineligible to receive unemployment benefits. The new stimulus law increases the amount of unemployment benefits and allows people to receive benefits for 33 weeks instead of 26 weeks. Unemployment benefits will not be taxed up to $2,400.

3. Communicate with others. Tell others what you are going through so they can commiserate — and perhaps refer you to your next job! To cope with being unemployed, find a support group to get you out of the house for coffee and mutual advice, or join an online support group for advice and networking.

4. Do not sign up for COBRA immediately. You have 60 days after leaving a job to apply for COBRA, and it applies retroactively. You might get a job within those 60 days. If not, you can submit your notice to continue coverage on day 55. If you’ve been laid off at work, set aside the amount of the first premium (just in case). Find out what it would cost to be added to a spouse’s insurance policy or to purchase an individual policy. Typically, COBRA is an expensive option, best for heads of household or those who cannot qualify for individual coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

5. Maintain old professional contacts. Write thank-you notes to your supervisor and key colleagues, enclosing your contact information. With luck, they will keep you in mind if job opportunities arise – and they may have tips for even low income jobs.

6. Start networking for new work. To cope with being unemployed, join online sites such as LinkedIn; create a professional profile that mentions recent job experience. Update your resume. Attend networking events in your field. Write down your professional contacts’ information and take it home with you. When possible, obtain personal e-mail addresses (rather than work addresses alone) for your most valued colleagues.

7. If you’ve been laid off at work, stick to your financial budget. Focus on must-pay bills; cut out other costs, such as cable TV or magazine subscriptions. Earn extra money by selling an extra car or having a yard sale. Defer student loans. Talk to your mortgage lender about options, such as refinancing your home mortgage. “If you absolutely cannot pay the bills after significant budget-tightening, seek out a reputable debt resolution firm to discuss options,” Ewing said.

8. Leave your retirement fund alone. Many people reflexively reach for a 401(k) withdrawal form when laid off from work. “But remember that early withdrawals come with income tax and penalties,” Ewing cautions. “Your nest egg is probably already cracked from recent stock market upheaval; avoid tapping it unless absolutely necessary.”

9. Stay positive! This is easier said than done when you’re coping with being unemployed — but get up every day, get dressed and get exercise. Dedicate time every weekday to job networking, applying for jobs and attending work-related events.

Do you feel frustrated, scared, angry, or helpless? Read How to Find the Light at the End of the Tunnel.

If you’ve been laid off from work and have questions or thoughts on coping with being unemployed, please comment below…  offers free information about complex personal finance issues including credit cards, debt relief assistance, insurance, mortgages, and other loans.

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12 thoughts on “Laid Off From Work? How to Cope With Being Unemployed”

  1. Hi Miranda,

    I suspect you’ll be working again before you know it! Even so, a lay off is a blow, especially when you didn’t expect it or see it coming.

    I wrote this article for you:

    How to Stay Positive When Looking for a Job

    I hope it helps, and welcome your thoughts. Good luck on finding a job – I hope that your unemployment turns out to be the best thing that ever happened to you!


  2. I was laid off form work and I didn’t see it coming. I’m a personal assistant at a law firm (well I was one) and everyone thought we were doing good financially because we were so busy and always getting new clients. So my lay off was a huge bad surprise.

    Everyone tells me to stay postive and keep my chin up, but how? I know how to cope wtih being unemployed, but I can’t be happy about it.

  3. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Shandra,

    Thanks for commenting. I’m really sorry to hear how bad it’s been for you since you’ve been unemployed! It sounds frustrating, disappointing, and discouraging.

    I wrote this article for you:

    What to Do When Nobody Will Hire You After 187 Interviews

    I don’t have any answers for you, just a few thoughts! Let me know what you think here or there.

    Blessings – and may you soon find the job of your dreams,

  4. Hello,
    Thanks for the posting. I don’t believe anything anymore. I have been unemployed for 2 years and I have been on over 187 interviews both face to face and telephone.

    How is it that your not discouraged? I am discouraged and pissed off. I am even more pissed off when people tell me that things will get better. What world are you living in??

    Interview after stinking interview I am passed having hope to taking a bottle of pills and leaving the world.

    In all honesty it will be 10 years before our economy starts to build. What employer haven’t told you is that most of the jobs we are applying for are either already taken (temporary employee sitting in that position); or they don’t exist and they need more resumes.

    Comeback to this website in 3 years and then let’s see what you guys are really talking about!!

    Fedup and pissed off

  5. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Tracie,

    I’m sorry to hear you were laid off — it sounds like you’re under alot of pressure right now! Very stressful stage of life, to be unemployed with a small child.

    Unfortunately, sending resumes isn’t the most effective way to get a job. The best way to find a job is to talk to people in the right position — people who know what companies or divisions are hiring, and people who actually do the hiring.

    I encourage you to call or visit companies in person, and talk directly to people who are involved in the employment process. Call the people you used to work with, and let them know you’re looking for a job. Ask if they have any leads, and ask them to call you if they hear something.

    I think that the more person-to-person contact you initiate, the better your chances of finding a job.

    You might also consider taking a lower paying job, or a part-time job, to help with the bills while you find the job you’re qualified to do.

    Also, is there an employment or career counseling organization in your city? Some places offer free career counseling, which includes helping people find jobs. It’s worth checking out.

    I hope these suggesions help, and I’ll keep you in my prayers. You WILL find the right job, and you WILL get through this! Keep persevering, my friend.

    Best wishes,

  6. I was laid off 1 month ago. The utilities are past due and I have received a cutt off notice. The unemployment checks tooks 4 weeks to get started so I was immediately behind. I wont have the rent payment for the 1st and was behind for last month. I havent been to the grocery store in more than a month and I take my 2 year old son to my mom’s to eat about 3-4 nights a week. I’ve sent resumes to every law firm in the city, this region of the state and to large firms in about 4 more states. Any other suggestions? It’s getting pretty hungry and cold out here. I’m checking into welfare.

  7. Networking is the best way to get a job after you’ve been laid off from work. Even if you don’t get another job right away, you still have contact with others which is really important.

    I found a job within a week after being laid off.

  8. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Sometimes all you need is a push out of the nest! Getting laid off from work is scary, especially if there are issues with unemployment (not wanting to get it, or not being able to get it)….but some people find that losing their job was the best thing that ever happened to them.

  9. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for your comment, Peter.

    I’ve heard that networking — which is what you did by going to people you know in the industry and asking for work — is one of the best ways to find a job after you’ve been laid off.

    And, it’s important to keep networking and stay in touch with key people at other organizations so that if you do end up unemployed again, you have an immediate resource!

  10. Hey

    I was laid off from work for three months. Sending my resume to companies that advertised online did NOT work, the employment counselors tell you not to do that and now I know why. Too much competition and plus not every company advertises job openings. What worked for me was to go to the other people in my industry and ask if they have job openings.

    I think that coping with being unemployed is easier when you don’t give up and stay positive.

    Peter W.