As you are about to attend a team meeting at work, your manager asks you to walk with her into an empty room. You are puzzled because this is out of the ordinary. She places a pink slip on the table, and your heart starts to beat faster, and faster. These six words come rolling out in what seems like slow-motion: “We have to let you go.”
Sure, your inclination is to grab your personal effects, then run out the door with as few coworkers seeing you as possible. However, there is some important information you need before you head for the elevators. Most people that lose their job are unaware of the benefits, and helpful information to ask during a job loss that will get them prepared to get back into the workforce.
This experience can be stressful and disappointing especially if this is your first job or you had long-term goals to stay with a company. You are not alone. Here are a few questions we recommend you ask if your professional world has been turned upside down.
Question #1: Do you have outplacement services?
Some employers offer outplacement services to laid-off employees to help them with job searching, resume writing, career coaching, and overall transitioning. The employer pays for it to help you find new job opportunities. Not only will it save you time searching for a new job, but it can help to improve your confidence while navigating this challenging situation.
If outplacement services are unavailable, get creative by binge-watching your way into a new job with interview tutorials on YouTube. Instead of letting this situation keep you down, rise above it and get ready for upcoming interviews.
As you meet new people through your previous employer’s outplacement service program, hand out your business cards to recruiters, potential employers, and professionals when networking. It will set you apart from people in your field and leave an impression that you are ready to get back to work.
Question #2: Is ongoing health insurance available for a time?
The premium on your health insurance is one way to receive financial help. Ask if there is a continuing coverage that is available after you leave the company. If the service is unavailable, ask if you can open a private health insurance policy. It might cover Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Question #3: What is the reason for my termination?
One of the most mature decisions you can make before you leave is to find out the reason why you were fired or laid off. In most states, an explanation from your manager is not required by law, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
The reason why it is important to inquire is if they had to let you go for poor work performance, you can reflect and figure out if there is a way that you can prevent the repeated behavior in the future. If it is because the company is experiencing financial loss, at least you can rest assured it had nothing to do with you.
The ability to gain closure is a part of personal and career development. The last thing you want to do is leave without an explanation or possibly live with the nagging feeling that you were the problem.
Question #4: Would you be willing to provide me with a professional reference?
If this was your first job, a layoff or termination feels like an even bigger blow to the professional ego. However, it’s important to evaluate whether you can ask your manager for a professional reference in spite of the pink slip. It is wise to ask your manager for a letter of reference or if he/she can act as a reference when a new company is interested in hiring you.
Another idea is to contact someone on your team that you had a good working relationship with to be a work reference. Your previous colleague can vouch for your potential, effective communication skills and enthusiasm to get the job done on time.
Question #5: Does the company offer unemployment insurance? If so, do I qualify?
The United States Department of Labor states that people who are laid off can apply for Unemployment Insurance (UI) if you become unemployed through no fault of your own, and meet certain other eligibility requirements. This insurance may provide for food, rent, and other necessities. Don’t feel ashamed. Remember that everyone needs help sometimes.
Even the most successful CEOs and industry titans have experienced a job loss or rejection before finding success. It is easy to become discouraged and take the entire blame for a job loss. However, it is important to remind yourself that you can get through this tough time when you have all the information and remain empowered no matter what.
Makeda Waterman is a professional writer with an Education in Journalism, Mass Communications, and Public Relations. She writes for the Huffington Post Canada and Elite Daily on millennial topics with the goal of helping people improve the quality of their lives and career.