Wondering how you could survive a layoff? With rampant job cuts in tech and many other industries, you’re certainly not alone. And, while the demand for new employees is brisk enough to absorb jettisoned workers in some industries, others are quickly becoming saturated.

Worse, rising inflation, climbing interest rates, and layoffs are often harbingers of a troubled economy. And that puts everyone at risk. Your best bet is to have a game plan to survive a layoff regardless of whether or not you see one coming.

5 Steps to survive a layoff

There are 5 steps that everyone should take to survive a layoff. However, the order that you’d take these steps varies based on whether you’ve already been laid off or are just preparing for the possibility.

What are the steps? If you’re laid off:

  1. File for unemployment insurance.
  2. Evaluate your spending.
  3. Update your resume.
  4. Launch a side hustle.
  5. Sign up with a staffing firm.

Just preparing

If you’re still employed, you’d reverse the order and sign up with a staffing firm first. You’d also want to update your resume and find a side hustle before considering your spending. Naturally, you only file for unemployment insurance when you’re unemployed.

Why flip the order based on your situation? Because when you’re preparing for a layoff that hasn’t yet happened, time is on your side. Taking these steps is likely to keep it that way without disrupting your life in any significant way.

But, if you’ve already been laid off, your goal is to keep food on the table and creditors at bay for the longest time possible. Triggering unemployment payments and cutting your spending promptly give you a better chance to quickly recover from the economic devastation of a job loss.

Let’s take a quick look at each step to explain why it’s important and how to go about it. Our order assumes that you haven’t yet been laid off, but want to be prepared if you are.

Sign up with a staffing firm

Staffing firms like Robert Half help find both full and part-time work for a wide array of professionals. What makes firms like this valuable is there is no cost to the job-seeker to get their help.

Companies pay staffing firms to find and vet appropriate candidates. And the staffing firm is generally only compensated after they place a worker who is a good fit for the for the job. So they’re anxious to help you find attractive positions. However, you are never under any obligation to take a job that’s offered. So, it’s a no-risk way to survey the market for better opportunities.

Robert Half specializes in financial services, law, tech, administration and creative services, such as content creation and advertising. However, there are similar firms in almost every industry, from nursing and hospitality to child care and marketing.

You can find a staffing firm in your field by searching SideHusl.com’s work page, which is broken by industry.

Find a side hustle

Why would you need a side hustle when you still have a job? To build your emergency fund.

In the event that you get laid off, having a generous emergency fund helps you pay the bills while you’re looking. In the meantime, it can make you calmer about job insecurity. Naturally, if you never get laid off, you can use this excess savings to finance a really great vacation or to feather your retirement nest-egg. So, outside of a little extra toil, there is no downside.

You have two basic choices when considering a side hustle — moonlight within your existing skillset or take a side hustle that suits your life or outside interests. If you don’t know what you can do, check out the SideHusl.com Quiz, which leads you through a series of questions to find a side hustle that matches your interests, skills and resources.

Update your resume

Accomplishments mean more than titles in this post-pandemic environment. So your resume should emphasize the projects you’ve completed and the impact they had on your company. Instead of saying that you’re a “self-starter,” record what you achieved while working remotely. And realize that data speaks louder than adjectives.

The more you can quantify your productivity or achievements, the better. Even if you don’t end up needing it to find a new job, updating your resume in this way can help you build a case for why your current employer should give you a raise.

Evaluate your spending

There’s no need to make cuts if you’re happy with where your money is going. After all, you’re still working and, presumably, won’t suffer economically unless you lose your job.

But it’s valuable to know what portion of your spending is necessary and what portion is discretionary if you do ever need to cut back. And, if you’ve never examined your spending before, it can be an illuminating experience.

Simply put, what you spend the most money on should reflect your personal priorities. But all too often, jotting down actual monthly expenses uncovers little money pits that you didn’t know where there. That might be a small fortune spent on lunches or golf or shoes. Naturally, if  your spending is a poor reflection of what you value, make a change. Otherwise, this exercise simply provides helpful information that you can use if you ever do need to make budget cuts.

File for unemployment

If you do lose your job, unemployment insurance may replace a portion of your earnings. But you need to apply promptly. That’s because the state agencies that administer the federal unemployment insurance program can be ponderous and slow. Delays on your part make the process even slower.

Also, unemployment insurance almost never replaces 100% of your working wages. The amount of wages that will be replaced will depend on how much you earn and where you live. It’s valuable to check out the rules in your state, so you can plan accordingly.

Don’t know where to file for benefits or how much you’ll get? The Department of Labor offers a general explanation of the program and provides links to every state unemployment office. It’s a great place to start.


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