I sat in my boss’s office in a state of shock. As I read over the letter she had handed me, reality sunk in. I was being laid off from a position I had hoped would be the launching point of my career.
Due to federal funding being cut, my children’s librarian job position ceased to exist. I allowed myself a few moments to be upset, both for myself and for my library patrons. After that, however, I took my new unemployment status as an opportunity to make positive changes to my life and to the lives of others.
1. Sign up for unemployment
First and foremost, taking care of your financial situation is critical. Contact your state’s unemployment office and file for unemployment for the first week you are without full-time work. When you file, make sure to have documentation of former employment handy. Items such as check stubs of former jobs for the previous year may be necessary. Also ensure you have important items such as your birth certificate, social security card, and passport ready in case you need to prove your identity to the unemployment office.
2. Discuss debt payment options
While no one likes to talk about student loan debt, you may be entitled for repayment deferment during the time you are unemployed. According to the The New York Times, 3.9 percent of college graduates are unemployed and student loan companies want to work with you and your finances as you repay your loans.
If you have a credit card balance, you may also be able to lower your monthly payment based on unemployment status. Call your credit card company to see if there are any options for your debt.
3. Leave on positive terms
In the two weeks between my layoff and my last day, I worked hard to finish the projects which were assigned to me and leave my co-workers in a place in which they were comfortable taking over aspects of my position. I also gave personal contact information to my coworkers, including my cell phone number and personal e-mail address, to be of assistance for any questions or problems which may arise.
Leaving on a good note is beneficial not only for your coworkers, but also for yourself. Many times, layoffs are due to funding and are not a reflection of your work or personality. Give all you can to your position and leave your last day of work as if it were your first day instead. You do not want to lose a potential recommendation, especially when you are back on the job market.
4. Look at job applications with fresh eyes
When I was searching for a job after graduation, I felt it was important to find a job with the “librarian” title. After all, it was what I went to graduate school for. However, as I have continued my job search, I have widened my horizons in an attempt to find a perfect job.
Take the time to write down all of your experiences, whether it be previous employment, volunteer work, or internships and look to see if there are ways in which they are connected. As I critically examined my own life and work experience, I realized I had always loved my experiences working with non-profit charities. As a self-proclaimed “do-gooder,” I began to look for jobs that combined my passion for literacy as well as using event planning and fundraising skills.
Unemployment, on the outside, may not look like a lot of fun. And honestly, it does come with a myriad of different challenges. However, this opportunity has taught me a lot about myself and has allowed me to take chances with my career and personal life. For me, it was the perfect time to “Lean In” and make a difference in my life and the lives of others.
Have some great advice for projects to take on and methods of coping during unemployment? Share with us in the comments!
Ask Levo Mentor Bonnie McDaniel, Founder of the Women are Talking Initiative, how she used her time after quitting one of her first jobs to leverage the experience into something new!