By Tim Hopkins
 

As a society, we are living in incredibly stressful and uncertain times. The COVID-19 crisis has dominated the headlines and, unfortunately, many experts are expecting the pandemic to continue for quite some time. While we as individuals have been impacted, so have businesses. Across the country, more and more employers are being forced to make tough financial decisions that will affect the livelihood of many individuals and, ultimately, their families.

So, how should you cope with all the insecurity? I will harken back to the days of my youth as a Boy Scout and say this, it is all about being prepared. While times were certainly easier, the lesson still holds true today.

  1. Know the difference between a furlough and layoff. A furlough is a temporary layoff from work or a reduction in hours worked. In most cases, employees are not paid during the furlough but benefits such as health insurance are maintained. For many companies, the goal is to position themselves to retain their staff once business “gets back to normal.” For the business, this is a smart choice as they are positioned to fill job openings with current staff without the need to start over. For the employee, this is not a guarantee of work, but the odds are significantly in your favor. A layoff takes place when an employee (or more frequently a group of employees) are officially released from their position. Like a furlough, layoffs are not associated with job performance and the employee may be rehired in the future. For the business, this often takes place when paying salaries and benefits is difficult and/or a business is no longer able to generate revenue. When possible, businesses will offer a severance package that may include health insurance for an allotted time in addition to a dollar amount to help the employee transition. However, severance packages are not guaranteed.
  2. Update your resume. It might seem pre-mature and even discouraging to update your resume now but think of it as a necessary step in preparation. Updating your work history to accurately reflect the work you have been doing will take time. You may not even need to use it, but if down the road you find yourself presented with the need – you will be ready.
  3. Consider budget cuts. I know … the dreaded budget cuts. Just as businesses are adjusting their budgets, you should too. This is especially true if you suspect a furlough or layoff coming your way.
  4. Talk with your family! Although I have it listed here as number four, it really is the most important step. As a recruiter, I see candidates far too often who go down the road of employment decisions only to discover a very unhappy spouse or family member who was shocked! Keep your significant other in the loop from the beginning and lean on each other to make decisions together.

So, you feel prepared but then the dreaded conversation happens … you have been furloughed or laid off. Do not panic!

  1. Don’t take it personally. Remember that if you face a furlough or layoff, this is not a reflection of your job performance. I know … that is easy for me to write and for you to read, and yet quite different to live through. But it is extremely important that you maintain your confidence and know your worth.
  2. Ask about your options. Ask for a severance package or the opportunity to keep your benefits.
  3. Get letters of recommendations. Ask for written letters of recommendation from your direct supervisor and other leadership within the organization.
  4. File for unemployment. Yes, employees can file for unemployment if laid off or furloughed. The amount of unemployment benefits furloughed workers are eligible for varies in each state. There may also be other unemployment programs your state is offering to help through this pandemic. Look at your local workforce commission and do your research right away.
  5. Use this time to update your education. Discover ways to update your skill set while on furlough or laid off. Take this opportunity to increase your education and advance your career.

You have many resources at your fingertips and certainly are not alone in these challenging times. If you need support finding a position give us a call at Stephens International Recruiting Inc. We are always happy to help!

Tim Hopkins is the vice president of operations and executive recruiter for Stephens International Recruiting Inc. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of TechNation or MD Publishing.

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