Lauren Marinigh

A Guide to Being Laid Off

By Lauren | August 12, 2018 | 0 Comment

If you’ve been following me over most of 2018, you’ll know that in February of this year I was laid off from my job working as an Account Manager at an online publisher, Diply. My career has always been one of the most important aspects of my life, and being laid off completely shocked me and left me confused, stressed, and having no idea what was next.

What I’ve learned in my lay off is that so many people get laid off daily, in fact, so many people approached me about their own lay off stories who I had never even known ever went through one! For some reason people are ashamed to talk about it, but it’s not something that makes me ashamed or embarrassed at all. However, when you first get the news that you’re being let go, it’s normal to completely spiral and convince yourself that you’re never going to be employed again (I think there was a brief moment I thought I’d become homeless too).

So to help you through that downward spiral, here are some of the tips and info I learned pretty quickly after being let go from my job.

Applying for EI

First things first, let’s talk about employment insurance (EI) because it’s really what’s going to be keeping you afloat until you land a new job. Note that this info is related to EI in Canada and I have no idea how the system works in other countries.

Employment insurance provides temporary financial assistance through the government while you look for work. Although being taxed on each pay check while you are working sucks, it doesn’t suck so much when you actually have to use a service you’ve been paying into.

Here are some of the most frequent questions around EI, or at least the most important ones…

When can I apply? 

You can apply as soon as you are laid off. However, you won’t actually be able to receive these benefits until you are no longer getting severance from your job that let you go. Once you are officially no longer receiving severance, your employer legally has to submit your record of employment to Service Canada (they’ll do this automatically for you) and it should take around two weeks for your application to be processed before you’ll get money. FYI they are super slow and sometimes your application can get held for different reasons, don’t hesitate to call them because this can get your application moved along quicker. But beware, it’ll take you awhile to get through to anyone.

How much will I get?

How much you are entitled to is entirely dependent on how much you were making in your previous job and how long you’ve been working for. However, it maxes out at $51,700. Which means that in a year, from EI, you’ll only ever be able to receive at a maximum $51,700. For most people, if you have been working for awhile and are making more than $51,700, you’ll likely receive that maximum amount.

What’s the catch? 

There are a few things you need to keep in mind while receiving EI.

  1. You need to complete bi-weekly reports about your job hunt before money will be sent on a bi-weekly basis.
  2. You need to remain in the country for the duration of receiving the benefits, or you need to disclose this information in your bi-weekly report when you leave the country. You aren’t eligible for benefits when you travel. However, this doesn’t mean your benefits will cancel out, you just won’t get paid the days you’re out of country, and it’ll start back up when you’re back.
  3. You need to track your job hunting progress. Keep track of all the jobs you apply to, interviews you have, networking you do, etc. as there is a high chance you will be asked to provide this information to Service Canada at some point to prove you are actively looking for a job.
  4. You can’t make any income from anywhere else during your time on EI, that means that if you get a part-time job in the meantime, you’ll need to inform them you’re making money and this amount will be deducted from what you receive from EI.

Saving money and budgeting

The amount you’ll receive from EI isn’t always going to make ends meet, especially if you were making significantly more than the maximum amount they’ll provide, so it’s important to take a look immediately at your budget and find ways to lower your expenses. Even though I personally don’t have myself on a strict budget because I’m good with money, when I was laid off I became much more conscious about where my money was going.

Some ways I personally saved money was:

  • Cancelling unnecessary services like Spotify, meal delivery services I get weekly, etc.
  • Not shopping for things I don’t need like clothing, and shoes.
  • Going out of my way to shop for groceries at the cheaper grocery chains like in Ontario, No Frills or FreshCo versus Loblaws or Whole Foods.
  • Having friends over for drinks/food versus going out to restaurants.
  • When I do go out for food/drinks, I limit myself. Sometimes I’ll even eat before I go so I only get dessert or an appetizer versus a whole meal.
  • Volunteering at my yoga studio once a week for a free unlimited yoga class pass in exchange.
  • Using coupon codes where possible, for example, I love meal kit delivery services for meals so I used a different service each week to use their “new members discount” and cancelled after the first week. You can also do this with yoga/fitness studios.

It’s easy to go on a spending spree when you’re laid off because you now have so much time to do things, shop, and spend money but it’s important to not go too wild. You can still spend money on fun things, but try your best to seek out opportunities to save, or not spend any money at all.

Finding things to keep busy

In my first weeks of being laid off I thought it was great, I finally had time to do all those things that I’ve never had time to do. However, eventually that gets boring quick, and you finish that to-do list and you find yourself pacing your apartment going crazy while all your friends are at work. It’s very, very easy to get depressed, lonely, and bored when laid off, especially if you’re laid off in the winter time like I was when you already don’t have much to look forward to, and are hibernating, and now you REALLY have no reason to leave the house every day.

The key is to finding things that keep you busy each day and things you can look forward to. Don’t punish yourself by sitting at your computer day in and day out for the entire day hitting “refresh” in hopes a new job pops up on LinkedIn you can apply for. Instead, spend part of your day, for me, that’s the morning, looking for jobs and applying, and then spend the rest of your day doing other things. Here are some ideas on where to start:

  • This may be a great time to focus on one of your hobbies, for me, that was blogging and yoga.
  • Always wanted to take up a new hobby or try something new? Here’s your chance.
  • Volunteer and get involved in an organization you’re passionate about but never had the time to commit to.
  • Find fun, free things to do in your city or explore a new neighbourhood you’ve never explored before.
  • Meet up with friends for coffee or lunch – just try not to spend a fortune on this!
  • Likely you have friends working in the service industry or not in a 9-5, here’s a time to get up to some fun adventures during the day.
  • Read that pile of books that have been sitting on your book shelf, or go get some more at the library for free!
  • Learn something new by taking a workshop, course, or attending a conference/networking event.

Honestly, I know this is easier said than done. It took me weeks before I actually got into the swing of things without a job and stopped beating myself up. It’s okay to pout and mourn the loss of your job, but also, don’t drive yourself crazy. In the beginning weeks of my lay off I would set little goals for myself each day to get me out of the house, and these were as lame as “walk to the grocery store to buy milk”. I absolutely hated when people would say: “Enjoy this time off!” because I was not enjoying it. I liked to work, I missed working!! But eventually I realized they were right. How many opportunities does someone have, if any, to have a break from working?

Job hunting tips

So you’ve applied to EI, you’ve budgeted your money, and kept yourself sane by keeping busy, but what have been my biggest lessons learned in terms of the actual job hunt which can be littered with rejection, never hearing back from employers, and a ton of competition? Here are some of my tips…

Don’t panic & know your worth

My job hunt has been full of frustrations, no doubt, but the thing I’ve really not let go of is to know my worth. I haven’t just accepted any job offer that fell into my lap, and to be honest, I probably could’ve been employed within the first few weeks of being laid off. However, I wasn’t desperate, and I have six years of experience under my belt, I don’t want to hate my job! The biggest mistake people make when they’re laid off is panic and feel they need to accept the first job that comes their way. Honestly, take the time in the first few weeks of your lay off, regroup, and make sure you are level-headed before you panic apply to every job out there. I promise you’ll thank me for it.

Go public

There is some strange stigma around people talking about being laid off, but being laid off isn’t normally based off performance and it’s usually never your fault. So why are we so hard on ourselves about it? One of the best things you can do when you’re laid off is to go public about it, but of course, in a professional and positive way. So no bashing your previous employer. Instead, post on your LinkedIn, and other social networks you’re looking for a new opportunity. Below is a couple examples of what I posted:

By going public you are letting your message get in front of more people, potentially people you may not have even thought to reach out too, and that can only be beneficial for getting more leads! Also, you’ll be shocked at how many complete strangers will reach out willing to help.

Take the time to reevaluate 

There are very few times in your career and life that you’ll have the opportunity to take a step back and reevaluate where you are in your career and what it is that you want from your next job. First off, reevaluate your resume, LinkedIn, portfolio and make sure they are all up to date, but also, reevaluate the type of job you want and don’t want, the type of work environment you want and don’t want, etc.

I honestly have learned so much about myself personally and professionally in this job hunt and partly that’s because straight out of college I hit the ground running and never took the chance to really think about what it is I wanted. Also, in your job hunt, you may realize what you thought you wanted will change, and that’s okay too. I really wanted to work for a start-up after coming from a start-up until I had about 15 weird, unprofessional interviews, and a ton of odd offers, I then realized I needed to reevaluate if I really wanted that insecurity and unknown in my career at this point in my life and if I could afford it.

Network your booty off 

If there was one thing I was thankful for when I was laid off is having already built a network of people online and offline. I had a ton of people reach out to me in the early days sending me job recommendations, and words of wisdom, or asking me out for a coffee. Networking will be a huge component of your job hunt. Here are some tips that can help you take advantage of and build your network…

  • Reach out to anyone and everyone in your field of business on your LinkedIn and invite them for coffee or a phone chat. This informational interview with them can be a great opportunity for them to learn more about you and vice versa. Plus you never know when they may have something or know someone looking for a candidate like you down the line.
  • Add people to your network you are interested in connecting with and shoot them a message asking if they have time to chat! No, this isn’t creepy if done in the right way. People really appreciate eager individuals and most likely would be down to let you pick their brain.
  • Reach out to people you know in companies that you want to work for, or alternatively add people that work at those companies and ask them for coffee. Putting feelers out there can be a great way to land yourself an interview.
  • Attend networking events and conferences. These are great for meeting a ton of new people at once but make sure you follow-up with all of them after!

Getting laid off is not the end of the world. I know it’ll feel like that, and it’s okay to have days where you cry it all out, but you need to look at it as a positive experience. How? You now have endless amounts of time to focus on finding the perfect job versus any job. You now have time to really discover more about yourself and your needs and wants in the job market. And you will get hired again, and hopefully in a bigger and better opportunity so your past employer says: “Damn, we shouldn’t have let them go.”

Lauren

Sharing my inspiration, advice, opinion & fun stuff one post at a time.

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