Society puts a lot of value in what we do for a living. At social gatherings, this is usually the second question we are asked, after our name. Our work defines us as human beings. It pivots our daily schedule and forms the foundation for our financial security. It is no wonder then, that a job loss is one of the most stressful life experiences. Getting laid off can affect your feelings of self worth and relationships with family and friends. It can also impact your ability to productively get back on your feet.
Getting Laid Off in Your 50’s
Organizations change gears rapidly when the economic climate asks for it. In the last decade especially, technology has changed entire sectors. The job market is now quite dynamic with constant change. This mode of operation has caught people in their 50’s and 60’s by surprise. They are not ready for retirement yet; for most of their careers, they have only seen a regular and steady pace of growth in both their seniority and income. This has not been the case for younger workers, for whom job security and wage growth remains elusive.
Without doubt, a job loss is unpleasant for everyone. But older individuals have a harder time getting back on their feet compared to their younger counterparts. And it does not have to be this way.
First Things First: Your Finances
If you have just been laid off, give yourself a few days to catch your breath. As soon as you can, tackle your severance package, head-on. How well you negotiate it will determine how strong of a financial bridge you have to ride out the next few weeks and months. Also, within 30 days of your last day at work, you must attend to your Employment Insurance application. This is a federal insurance program offering temporary financial support to eligible individuals who have lost their jobs.
You can investigate your eligibility, the impact of your severance package as well as the application process either on-line or at your local Service Canada location.
Severance Package & Health Insurance
If you negotiated a few more weeks of health insurance in your severance package, then don’t let it slide. Now is the time to focus on self care. Renew your prescription medications and book the dental and optical appointments. Don’t forget to maximize other wellness benefits like massage and chiropractic treatments.
Laid Off: Job Loss Counselling
It is normal to feel unmotivated for a short time following a job loss. If your severance package included outplacement services, then the first step we would explore with you is job loss counselling to help catapult you forward.
Grieving is an important part of the healing process. It helps you come to terms with the loss. Some individuals need a nudge to get to the other side. If this is your situation, then our counsellors can get you out of the rut. They ensure you do not let your laid off status become a symbol of failure. Our counsellors reinforce positivity and guide you with strategies to forge ahead. They efficiently get you ready and energized to weather the highs and lows of job hunting.
Structuring Your Time When Laid Off
Following a layoff, your full-time job becomes looking for a job. And in fact, if you are receiving a severance package, your former employer will expect this. It is known as the employee’s duty to mitigate the job loss.
Adding structure to your day will help greatly. Approach it just like you would if you worked for someone else. Plan your working time, show up each day and take time off to relax during weekends.
Furthermore, without a commute, you now have time to get fit and focus on your physical well being. It is also important to build enjoyable activities into your week to ensure you keep isolation and depression at bay.
Volunteering and Transitional Jobs
Volunteering is an excellent way to connect with others. The sheer act of kindness to help others less fortunate can elevate your own mood. Similarly, taking on temporary contract jobs, even those not in your direct line of work, takes care of cash flow.
Both scenarios get you out of the house, widens your circle of contacts and teaches you new skills. You should seek out these opportunities as often as you can.
Looking for work means marketing yourself. For executives and individuals in senior positions, this is much easier to do with a professional “marketer of people” by your side.
If outplacement services were built into your negotiated severance package then you should take full advantage of it. A personal career coach can help jumpstart this phase in the most efficient way possible and help you met your goals faster. This ranges from landing another equivalent job to exploring opportunities in consulting.
Equity’s Career Coaches first help you define your value proposition. We identify the inventory of skills you possess beyond the basic functional tasks of your job. Surprisingly, most individuals underestimate and understate transferrable skills, like problem solving and project management. Yet employers covet and value them.
Using this information, we help position you in the best possible light with a compelling resume and polished LinkedIn profile.
We then help you market yourself to a wider range of employers than you might have considered on your own. Many jobs are not advertised and the we help you navigate the hidden job market. And to complete your “relaunch” we remain at your side with networking and interview readiness.
In our experience, candidates who are open to a paradigm change perform very well after a job loss. The time in between jobs brings opportunities for self discovery and reinvention to make the next phase very rewarding.
Susan Heim is the president of Equity Career Transition and Outplacement Services, offering personalized coaching services for individuals in their quest for the perfect job and career. Equity also provides cost-effective outplacement services for organizations, large and small, in both the private and public sector.
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