First 72 Hours Of Unemployment
Careers Advice

The First 72 Hours Of Unemployment: 5 Things You Must Do!

After you learn that you have been laid-off, it can be difficult to focus and take action– particularly if the news of your dismissal came as a surprise. So it’s more than understandable if all you want to do is crawl under the covers or hop on the first plane to Bermuda.

Unfortunately, there are several things you really do need to address ASAP, and the sooner you take care of them, the smoother your transition will be:

1. Review Your Separation Package

At the termination meeting, your employer should provide you with a folder of information containing specific forms and instructions to review.

In addition to details regarding severance payment (and payment for accrued vacation time), your separation package may include information regarding outplacement/ job search assistance services, continuation of insurance benefits (COBRA), 401-K and/or other pension plans, access to employee assistance services and details regarding payment of outstanding bonuses, commissions, profit sharing plans, etc.

Remember it is not always necessary to file all of the papers in your package within the first 72 hours, but it is extremely important that you take the time to review all of the components of your separation package carefully to insure that you receive the maximum benefits being offered to you. If you have any questions regarding your separation package, do not hesitate to contact your employer, accountant or attorney for clarification.


2. Share The News With Your Spouse Or Significant Other

It may seem odd to list this as a “must-do” step, because most people will automatically do this without prompting. After all, it’s only logical that your partner deserves to be told immediately about your job loss.

Nonetheless, I know situations where this step was delayed, at least temporarily. One gentleman I knew, even continued to go through his usual routine each morning; putting on his suit, heading out for the morning train, and then staying away from the house all day – just to create the impression that he was still employed.

As difficult as it may be to share this news, the sooner you get it over with, the easier it will be for all involved.

Putting it off will only make matters worse. Trying to spare your partner unnecessary anguish, while admirable, may well backfire if he/she feels that you have intentionally kept them in the dark.


3. Talk To Your Children

Once you and your spouse have an opportunity to digest the news, you’ll want to discuss the best way to share the news with your children. While you can probably wait a day or two before meeting with your children, thereby giving yourself some time to calm down and gather your thoughts, don’t let weeks go by without sharing the news.

Children often have a sixth sense when something is wrong, so letting them know what is happening, in an age-appropriate manner, is vital.


4. Let People Know How They Can Reach You During This Transition

One of the problems associated with losing your job, is that you can quickly lose touch with business associates if they no longer know how to get a hold of you. To avoid this problem, immediately send an e-mail to your business associates letting them know your new contact information.

While you may want to send a personal note to close contacts, a simple business-like note to the majority of your client list will suffice. You can (and probably should) follow up with a more detailed piece of correspondence a few weeks down the road, but for now you just want to ensure they can reach you in the interim.


5. File For Unemployment Benefits

The fifth, but by no means least important “must-do” step, is to file for unemployment. Granted, you won’t get paid very much, but it is money that you are entitled to and you’d be foolish not to claim it. Don’t let pride stand in your way – this is money you’ve earned fair and square.

If it makes you feel any better, be aware that unemployment is funded by employers and the more claims are credited against any one employer, the higher their rate of taxation becomes – a not so subtle way to try to limit the number of layoffs.

Fortunately, filing for unemployment has been simplified in recent years. In many states, you can now file by telephone, removing the stigma of having to stand on long lines at the unemployment office. Once your claim is processed, you’ll be required to call in once a week to keep your account active.


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