How to Bounce Back After Getting Laid Off from Your IT Job
How do you overcome a layoff? More professionals find themselves asking that question. At least 230,433 Americans had their jobs cut in the first four months of 2019 (31% more than last year). Even after achieving a 3.6% unemployment rate in April (a 50 year low), more cuts are still on the horizon. We realize that the next steps for people still reeling from a layoff or with the threat of a layoff hanging over their heads are often murky. Yet if you take the following measures, you can bounce back from this situation, relegating it to a brief detour in an otherwise long and successful career.
Get Your Bearings Swiftly
The initial shock of a layoff can disorient anyone. Yet despite all of the heightened emotions surrounding it, the immediate aftermath is when you most need your wits about you. Specifically, you will need to answer a number of key questions to figure out your financial footing and reestablish security and stability in the coming weeks:
- Is there a severance package? Companies are not required to offer a severance package but as many as 55% of businesses have formal policies. Most payouts are based on your tenure and length of employment. Depending on the policy, that might translate to one or two weeks’ pay for every year served with the company.Before accepting any payment, always determine the conditions of a payout. There may be strings attached. Some severance packages stipulate that accepting the money restricts your rights to take any legal action or even obligates you to a non-complete clause. Always read the agreement in full before you sign away your recourse.
- Can you extend your healthcare coverage? Some severance packages extend your employee benefits briefly, allowing you time to get back on your feet. In fact, if your former employer had more than 20 employees, they’re mandated by the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) to offer health insurance for 18 months after termination. This type of plan allows you to keep your insurance as long as you continue making payments.
- Are you eligible for unemployment insurance? There is another safety net provided through government agencies: unemployment insurance. If you qualify for this type of insurance, you can receive up to half of your compensation for as many as 26 weeks. As long as your circumstances match the requirements in your state for unemployment insurance (i.e. you weren’t fired for misconduct, didn’t resign for health issues, etc.), you can collect these benefits during your job search.
Reassess Your Skills
When employment ends unexpectedly, it’s important to reflect on the current state of your technical skills. Your talents have grown and evolved since your last job search, changing the way your peers and potential employers perceive you. Before you put yourself out there, ask these questions:
- Is your title earning you better compensation? Job titles are just a matter of vanity. The exact wording of the former positions listed in your LinkedIn profile or resume can impact your overall compensation. For starters, functional titles beat whimsical ones. Digital Prophet or any other title that reads like snake oil should be revised into a recognizable alternative. But the weight of a job title goes deeper than that.For example, you might be fulfilling the exact same work as someone with a different, higher-paying title and receive lower compensation. Data Engineers and Data Scientists, Cybersecurity Engineers and Cybersecurity Analysts, Systems Architect and Systems Engineers overlap in responsibilities – depending on the size and specifics of your former employer. Be sure to communicate your full worth to prospective employers if your former title failed to encapsulate your total contributions.
- Do you possess top technical skills? In a year’s time, the demand for a specific IT skillset fluctuates up or down. For example, Dice found that compensation for the configuration management tool Puppet increased by 7.6%, making this technology a lynchpin in any resume.This level of change in compensation isn’t an outlier. Technologies across the spectrum have shifted in one way or another. It’s your opportunity to map out which of your technical aptitudes will turn the most heads and improve your ability to attract top-tier opportunities.If you want further guidance into top technologies, look at our 2019 IT salary guide to help you reassess the value of your skills.