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Monday, December 4, 2023

How to Survive If You Were Part of the Tech Layoffs

GOOGLE, AMAZON, FACEBOOK, Yahoo, Salesforce, countless crypto startups, Microsoft tech giants are maintaining eliminations over months. Over 17,000 job cuts have been reported so far in this February.

GOOGLE, AMAZON, FACEBOOK, Salesforce, countless crypto startups, Microsoft: These are the tech companies, great and small, that have been laying people off in droves so far in 2023. And it’s not only marketing and middle management roles being terminated, but analyst and engineer roles too. No job is 100 percent safe, as many of us have come to understand through experience.

Being laid off is stressful, and can leave you feeling destabilized and unsure. Whether this is your first layoff (which probably hits much harder) or you’ve been down this road before, searching for jobs and figuring out how to meet your needs without that steady income can be scary. There are many creative solutions to help while you look for your next big break.

Prepare for the Worst, Hope for the Best

Whether you are entering a job search out of necessity or you’re riddled with survivor’s guilt and worried that you might be up next on the chopping block, update your resume and start looking for other opportunities. Job board sites like LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, and Indeed are great places to begin your search, but also think about companies you’d like to work for and scroll through their career pages as well. 

If you’re hitting a roadblock, look for recruiters who specialize in tech and reach out to them directly. If the economists are right and we are indeed looking down the barrel of a recession, there’s a good chance these layoffs will not be the last.

Whether you got the long or the short end of the layoff fallout, secure your information. I definitely made the mistake of creating files on my work Google drive that should have been in my personal drive, but luckily I had shared them with myself. Make copies to ensure that you don’t get locked out, and if there are any important contacts or emails you want to save, make copies of those as well, as trying to track them down after being laid off can be difficult, if not impossible.

Check Your Benefits

It may sound obvious to some, but when I was laid off earlier this year, unemployment insurance was the last thing that came to mind. Each state in the US has its own set of qualifications to determine whether an individual can claim benefits, for how much, and how long. For example, in New York, you have to have worked for 2 quarters to be eligible to claim unemployment; the maximum you will be granted is $504 per week, and the term will last for up to 26 weeks. In Florida, you will likely receive less, and the state has a set maximum of 12 weeks to claim unemployment insurance.

This is almost definitely a lot less than many of us in tech are used to making, but something is better than nothing. Plus, many programs allow you to pursue freelance work between jobs, and that income won’t impact your weekly benefit, meaning you can look at unemployment as a sort of baseline on which to build.

In the US, you can use this Unemployment Benefits Finder to look up your state’s policy and apply online or over the phone. You can apply for benefits the day you are let go, but keep in mind that if you received a severance package, you may not be eligible until your severance runs out. 

Check Your Insurance

In the United States, health insurance is often tied to your employment, which adds yet another layer of distress to being laid off, especially if you cover dependents under your plan. Legally, your employer has to cover your premiums through the end of the month in which your employment ends, but that time moves quickly, especially if you are let go close to the end of the month. 

If your benefits included health insurance, look into COBRA (the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985) to see how long your group rate will be available to you. You should receive a packet in the mail about a week after you are let go, which will include the full cost of your premiums (it will usually be around double what you were paying previously) and the length of time you can be covered under that plan. Some employers will cover your premiums for an extended period after your employment has ended, but make sure you fill out the appropriate paperwork to ensure your coverage doesn’t end before you find a new job or a new plan.

You can also look into the state-sponsored insurance plans available to you using this Plan Finder. The plans vary from state to state and depend heavily on your income status. For example, when I was an adjunct professor making less than $30,000 a year, I qualified for a $40/month plan with a $0 deductible and a very good network of doctors. However, now that I need a family plan, which takes both my and my domestic partner’s income into account, our plan offering actually amounted to more than my COBRA insurance, with worse rates and a weaker network of doctors. Definitely check to see what plans you qualify for, but don’t be surprised if continuing your current group rate is cheaper and better.

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