Laid Off? What to Do Next

Timothy Brown |

retirement-jumpstart​When you are laid off, it can be overwhelming. However, there are things you can do to help make the transition to your next great opportunity easier. Here are some helpful steps to consider.

Benefits/Health Care

  • File for unemployment benefits as soon as possible.
  • Consider electing your COBRA benefits and get the facts on healthcare costs you will incur. Your company's COBRA typically lasts 18 months from termination. If you need benefits beyond 18 months, in Minnesota you may be eligible for the Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association (MCHA) plan. Visit for more information.
  • Apply for individual health care. If your health history is good, you may be able to get a private plan that is less expensive than COBRA.

Job Search

  • Get started right away in looking for a new job. Don't delay. 
  • List your skills and update your resume. It needs to look good.
  • Start networking. Join LinkedIn and Facebook, attend networking events, and meet with all your friends to let them know your situation and what you are looking for.
  • Perfect your positioning statement so you can clearly articulate your unique abilities (generally in 30 to 60 seconds). Use this when meeting people or introducing yourself.
  • Narrow your target. You'll often have better luck if you go after something specific rather than searching for any job.
  • Consider what you would like to do if you could do anything you wanted. Maybe this is your opportunity to do it.
  • Consider starting a business on the side while looking for a job. 
  • Consider a class to update your skills. Would a new credential improve your marketability?
  • Hire an outplacement firm to help you even if you need to pay for it yourself. Interview a few and pick the one that feels right.
  • Get involved with charitable organizations such as your church or community projects. This will keep you active, allow you to meet new people and help you feel good about yourself.

Budgeting/Cash Flow

  • Update your cash flow and budget projections. Carefully evaluate and understand your spending. What can you cut? What can you delay?
  • Prioritize expenses. How many months can you spend at your current rate before burning through your reserves?
  • Evaluate your goals. Put them in writing.
  • Consider part-time employment if needed to enable a longer search. If money is limited, then having the extra funds may enable you to stay focused on what you really want. If your spouse isn't working, can he or she take a job?


  • Roll over your 401(k) to an IRA. Open a new IRA and then make a trustee-to-trustee transfer from your old 401(k). Make sure you know the right way to do this. The tax consequences and penalties can be substantial if done incorrectly.
  • Allocate investments appropriately knowing that you may need to access these funds if your job search takes longer than expected.
  • Avoid annuities and products that may tie up your assets or subject you to high surrender fees. Understand all investment costs (including commissions and loads) before you invest.

Whatever you do, stay positive, active and healthy. Use this as an opportunity to spend time with your family and friends. Remember, even Steve Jobs was fired from Apple. There have been countless people who credit losing a job as the event that enables them to become incredibly successful in their next career.

Additional Resources

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