How to Create a Productive Home Office After a Job Layoff
Hardly anybody gets through their career without a few bumps in the road. Roughly 40% of American workers have been laid off at least once in their career, with more than 15 million people losing their jobs in 2022 alone. Recently, even high-performing employees at the country’s largest tech firms have received pink slips during mass job cuts.
If you’ve recently experienced a layoff, you may be kicking off a new job search from your home office. We’ve prepared a complete guide to help you deal with your job loss, create productive space in your home and locate the resources you’ll need to secure your best job yet.
The Effects of a Job Loss and Being Laid Off
Job loss can be as crushing as it is common. Although 28% of Americans have been laid off in the last two years, people report feeling alone, anxious, shocked, angry, sad, or afraid after losing their jobs. These feelings can creep in even before a layoff occurs. One study even revealed that 61% of adults between the ages of 18 and 34 have layoff anxiety.
Losing your job affects more than your emotions. Work provides daily structure, identity, status and social interaction. Its sudden departure can take a serious toll on your mental health. Losing this social support and financial security can also affect your physical health, as unemployed workers may shun gyms, healthy food options, and doctors’ offices.
What To Do If You’ve Been Laid Off
Discuss Severance Plans or Options with Employer If Applicable
Sometimes called “the layoff payoff,” a severance plan spells out the company’s financial obligation to an employee in the event of a layoff. Discussing severance plans with your employer can help you understand how much money you will be entitled to if you are laid off. It can also provide you with important information about the benefits and protections you can expect.
File for Unemployment
Unemployment programs are public benefits offered to people who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. Unless you were terminated for cause, you may be eligible to draw a percentage of your salary through an unemployment program while you conduct your job search. Contact your state employment agency to find out what you qualify to receive.
Look Up Health Insurance Options
Since healthcare is often tied to employment, losing health insurance can be just as financially devastating as losing your salary. Look into federal health insurance marketplace plans, COBRA, and cost-sharing programs. You do not want to be uninsured or let your family’s coverage lapse, even for a few days.
Gather Contact Information of Potential References
You will probably rely on current co-workers or managers to serve as references. Be sure to get their personal contact information, including phone numbers and emails, before leaving your former employer’s premises if you can. You may find that the IT department has locked out of your company’s email account as soon as you received your notice.
Review Your 401K Contributions
Once you leave an employer, you are no longer part of their 401K plan unless your company stipulates otherwise. Generally, your choices are to cash out your investments, roll them over to an Individual Retirement Account or Roth, or roll them into your new employer’s plan. Whatever you choose can greatly affect what you owe Uncle Sam in taxes. So talk with HR and your wealth management professional before signing anything related to your retirement benefits.
10 Tips on Creating a Positive and Productive Workspace for a Job Search
- Choose The Right Space: Look for a quiet area separated from the rest of your living quarters. If you have the square footage, you can use a spare room or flex space. If not, find an out-of-the-way place where you can concentrate.
- Incorporate Natural Light: Proper lighting is essential to good work. Artificial light can help you see clearly, but natural light offers an array of health benefits, including boosting your body’s vitamin D levels. Bow windows can enhance a room’s visual extent and natural light.
- Focus on Ergonomics: An ergonomic workstation helps you hold proper posture with relaxed arms, wrists and neck. To make your workstation ergonomic, choose a comfortable chair, set your desk at the right height, and keep your screen, keyboard, and mouse in alignment with your arms and wrists.
- Add Greenery or Candles: Job searching can be stressful, but your workspace shouldn’t be. Natural elements improve happiness, so consider a plant for your desk area. You might also try a candle, oil diffuser, or soothing music to lift your spirits.
- Put Up An Encouraging Background or Positive Affirmation Sticky Notes On Your Screen: Elevate your mood with inspirational messages. Digital enhancements or custom vinyl lettering can be an inexpensive way to flood your brain with positive themes.
- Keep Your Space Decluttered: You’ll feel less anxious and more confident in an organized environment. Cord organizers, which feature powerstrips with multiple charging ports, can help curb cable clutter. You could also try a drawer organizer and floating shelves. Don’t forget to organize your computer desktop, too.
- Listen to Podcasts or Motivational Speakers: Positivity promotes resilience. Schedule time every day to listen to uplifting speakers or interviews. You can also find helpful career tips or industry information on many business-to-business podcasts.
- Keep a Day-By-Day Journal: A journal provides a clear record of what you have done, the results you achieved, and your plan for going forward. It can be the most powerful job-search tool in your box, so don’t let this slip.
- If Financially Secure, DIY Your Space: If you’ve ever designed a dream office, now is your chance to make your dream come true. Let your creative style shine and your needs take priority.
- Expand Your Shelving and Storage Space: Your home office helps you keep your life organized. Invest in storage furniture, hanging shelves, cabinets, or whatever you need to store your work life while you’re in transition.
Job Search Tips
Step 1: Update Resume and Cover Letter
Make sure your resume contains your most-recent accomplishments and awards. Since most prospective employers also expect a cover letter, draw up a few templates that you can personalize when you send out these letters.
Step 2: Optimize Your Online Job Profile
About 80% of job searches happen online. You need to be active on LinkedIn, major job boards like Indeed, and industry-specific job sites. On LinkedIn, you can set your profile as “open to work,” so employers know to reach out.
Step 3: Reach Out To Professional Contacts
Face-to-face networking is still the most effective way to move ahead in your career. In fact, 70% of open jobs never get published. Instead, they are filled through personal connections. Let your professional contacts know you are on the market.
Step 4: Join Networking Groups (Including Facebook)
Business relationships often begin online before moving into physical space. If your personal network is small, join online networking groups in your industry. You can build a critical system of contacts this way.
Step 5: Schedule Specific Job Hunting Hours
A predictable routine increases efficiency. Your job search will be more effective, and less stressful, if you confine your work to a predetermined time frame. This approach also helps you set boundaries that preserve your personal life from getting overrun by the search.
Step 6: Consider Working With A Mentor Or Career Coach
Career coaches and mentors bring objectivity to your career plan. They can help you scope out the market in your industry, develop a plan, hone your message and get in front of the right people.
Step 7: List Every Job That You Have Applied For
Careful record keeping is critical to your search. Using a program like Microsoft Excel, record the job title, day you applied, contact name, follow up, and any other relevant information.
Step 8: Practice Interviewing
Interviewing is a skill, and like any skill, it gets sharper with practice. A job search coach, executive speech coach, or even a good friend can act as the interviewer using questions you find online. For the best results, video the interview and evaluate your performance afterward.
Step 9: Prepare Smart Questions For Your Interview
Almost every interview ends with the opportunity for you to ask questions. You can find lists of smart questions in many career-related publications. It’s best to tailor these to your situation before going into the interview. Make sure not to ask a question the interviewer has already answered during your conversation.
Job Search Resources and Organizations That Can Help
The following list of resources offer free support in writing a resume:
- Indeed: Easy and Free Online Resume Builder
- Resume.Com: Build a Professional Resume for Free
- CV Engineer: Create a free resume in 10 minutes
- Intelligent CV’s Resume Builder App
- Visual CV: Create a job-ready resume in minutes
- Robert Half Talent Solutions
Also check with your local public library, college or technical school’s career office, or Goodwill Career Center for personalized assistance.
Organizations That Help With Employment Assistance
- Dress for Success helps women achieve economic independence by equipping them with professional attire and career development tools. The organization maintains 140-plus offices around the world.
- American Job Centers are a federally supported resource that offers workforce development and employment programs. The website provides links to local affiliates that may provide one-on-one assistance.
- FourBlock Foundation, located in New York, helps veterans transition from military service into civilian careers. The organization can assist anyone from aspiring entrepreneurs to senior applicants at Fortune 500 companies.
Coping with a Job Loss
Connecting with Loved Ones
Grief is a common response to job loss. Connecting with people who love you can help alleviate the sharpest grief and point you forward in your profession and personal life.
Incorporate Movement Into Your Life
Gentle exercise can improve your mood, alleviate your anxiety, and clarify your thinking. Walking with a friend adds a social element that multiplies the benefits.
Catch Up On Health Appointments
Check with your HR representative or insurance agent because you may enjoy a window of time before your health insurance coverage ends. You can use this period to your advantage.
Helping others takes your mind off your own troubles. Volunteering is also a great way to network with new people or even get advance notice of a job opening at the very place you are serving.
Start Up A Hobby
If you’ve always wanted to take up a new instrument, learn a language, plant a garden, or write a novel, now’s your chance. Not only will you reduce anxiety and fill time productively, but you’ll also improve in confidence and skills.