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How to Survive a Layoff: The Essential Layoff Survival Guide for Canadians

How to Survive a Layoff: The Essential Layoff Survival Guide for a healthy financial life post-employment.

How to Survive a Layoff: The Essential Layoff Survival Guide for a healthy financial life post-employment. This is finance advice you won't want to miss!

If you are faced with a layoff, it may feel like the end of the world, but it’s definitely not.

You’ll be taken through a lot of financial and emotional turmoil, but you can take steps to prepare you and your family for what lies ahead.

You can survive a layoff and even come out on top. I am completely confident it is possible. 

If you are a regular reader you may know that I was laid off during my last pregnancy (in 2013). I did not want to have to worry about finding a job with a 6 month old baby or dealing with the stress of a lay off during my pregnancy, I decided to take matters into my own hands. 

Thanks to careful planning and a lot of hard work it is nearly 2 years since I was laid off and we are still living as comfortably as we did prior to my lay off.  

If I can survive a layoff while pregnant, you can do it too! 

Start Preparing for a Layoff Now

For starters, you will be able to prepare yourself for a layoff. Being laid off is not like being fired and escorted out of the building.

Your employer will give you a heads up. You should be given at least a two weeks’ notice. If not, you may be eligible for two week’s pay.

Besides being notified ahead of time, you are also entitled to a severance package. 

As long as you have worked at least 12 consecutive months of continuous employment before being laid off, you are entitled to collect a severance. You should receive at minimal five working days pay.

Check out more information about your rights prior to being laid off.

So knowing you are going to be laid off, you have the opportunity to start saving money, which is key to helping you survive a layoff.

It’s time to immediately sit down with your family and discuss what is going on. It’s time to cut out excess spending.

You must also carefully use your final severance package.

In your preparing stage, you must also stop using your credit cards.

These should be placed in your freezer, away from immediate use. Use this as your emergency fund.

You may be tempted to start using your credit cards to buy you time and keep cash on hand. This is a bad idea because the interest quickly adds up and can increase your minimal amount due each month.

During a layoff, you need to save as much as you can.

Groceries eat a large chuck of a household’s budget so now is a good time to look into using coupons and other ways to save on your grocery bill

You should also check into options such as food banks for free groceries and or meals if it comes down to that.

Governmental Assistance can Help you Survive a Layoff

Becoming unemployed due to a layoff is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s due to no fault of your own.

The government has programs to help those in need for situations as such.

You can receive temporary financial assistance through the Employment Insurance (EI) program and apply online. As long as you are continually seeking work or educating yourself, you are eligible.

Another program sponsored by the government is the Connecting Canadians with Available Jobs (CCAJ).

This program helps anyone receiving EI benefits find a job they are qualified for in their area.

Set Up a Spreadsheet of Your Debts

Now that you have a few options started for income, it’s time to sit down and analyze what the next few months to a year or so will look like.

You need a clear picture and can start by creating a spreadsheet of your debts.

You need to know exactly how much you owe for each, what the interest rates are, and what your minimal monthly payment is.

You want to also include your grocery expense, household expenses, gas, and leave a tiny budget for entertainment, even if it’s to order a movie once a month.

You must give yourself something to keep your spirits up.

Tally-Up Your Income and Savings

After you’ve listed your debts, it’s time to see how much income and savings you have totalled.

To start, you know you have your severance package. Hopefully, you have a savings account.

Finally, you’ve already applied for your EI benefits.

As you want to avoid using it, do tally up on the side how much you have in your:

• Line of credit

• Cash advances for your credit cards

• Retirement funds

• College funds

• Investment accounts

These accounts should be your last go to accounts for your family to survive.

Make a Budget for Your Household

If you don’t already have one, now is the perfect time to establish a budget for your household.

You need to figure out how much you spend each month and now figure out how you can cut back on your spending.

Now, you need two columns: one for necessities and one for non-necessities.

Clothing, nail and hair salons, cable, guitar lessons for your kids – these are non-necessities while you are going through this tough period.

Bringing in an Income to Survive a Layoff

The key to surviving a layoff involves bringing in money.

Of course, it’s easier said than done, but there are many ways you can do so. 

If you are collecting EI, you also need to consider how this may cut into your EI payments but also keep in mind that it could be worth the long-term gain.

Consider Part-Time or Flexible Positions

First, check around and see if there are any part-time or flexible positions available.

You don’t want to rush into a full-time opportunity because it will give you less flexibility to find something you truly want.

The salary may not be up to par and you’ll be stuck trying to take care of your family on minimal wage just to have income.

You’ll never get out of the rut. That’s why it’s important to create your budget and stick to it.

So find a part-time position that gives you a chance to find and apply to jobs you want.

Start Your Own Business

Now, to prevent running into a situation of being laid off ever again, consider starting your own business.

This is your opportunity to do something you want and enjoy doing. You are the boss.

You can have multiple streams of income as well if you plan it right.

You can start any business you want, and there are programs to teach you exactly what you need to get your business started such as business plans and marketing strategies.

Consult with your local Service Canada Centre on your options.

Start Hustling on the Side

Yes, that’s right. Hustling has such of a negative tone.

However, many people have come up over layoffs through hustling. Hustling means doing anything you can to stay on top (legally).

So, for starters, look through your home.

What do you see you can stand to part from? Do you have an old entertainment system, television, PlayStation, or digital camera?

Put it up on eBay, Craigslist, or sell it to the local pawnshop.

Get Educated

As mentioned, the CCAJ program is there to help you find a job. They also provide educational opportunities to help you brush up on or learn a new skill.

How to Land a Full-Time Position

Once you’ve developed a few methods to bring in extra income and can breathe easier, it’s time to work on landing your new full time position.

Finding a full time position is a full time position in itself. There are three main things to do: work on your resume, network, and talk to recruiters.

Work on Your Resume

It’s now time to make your resume shine.

This would be difficult if you were fired from your job. However, you have been handed an opportunity!

You were laid off, and your talents are now available to another company.

Since you’ve been given a notice, gather copies of your employee reviews.

Note the important projects you’ve worked on, how much revenue you helped generates, and the new skills you’ve learned.

Put action words on your resume such as developed, implemented, gained, and led.

If you are not good at resume writing, barter your skills with someone who is.

Always Keep Networking!

You should never stop networking.

However, once you learn you are about to be laid off, it’s time to network stronger.

Perform a few favours while you are still employed if possible in hopes someone could help you out while you are seeking a new position.

Ask managers if they would be willing to write letters of recommendation or introduce you to key managers at other companies.

Other networking opportunities include:

  • Complete your LinkedIn profile.
  • Tell any and everyone you’ve been laid off. You never know whom they can reach out to.
  • Connect back with college associates. Contact your university’s alumni department for assistance.
  • Contact your universities career department. They may be able to make a few referrals as well.
  • Go to networking events.

Talk with Recruiters

Finally, make sure to reach out to recruiters. Recruiters are always in need of talent.

Make a few of your own personal business cards and list your strong skills or desired positions.

Recruiters do not only place for temporary positions. They help major corporations find key executives as well.

As a layoff can appear to be the most traumatic experience you’ll face, you’ll see over time it’s an opportunity.

You can survive a layoff by supplementing your income with freelance and legit hustling opportunities.

This will buy you time to seek out the best career for you and your family.


Lisa Johnston

Wednesday 27th of January 2016

Thanks for all of the information, my husband is laid off seasonly and its hard to make ends meet during the months he isn't working.

Debbie Bashford

Monday 7th of September 2015

lots of good tips.


Friday 24th of April 2015

These are really great tips! Thank you for posting this.

Elizabeth Matthiesen

Saturday 18th of April 2015

There are some very good pointers and tips here that people should read. There are a lot more lay-offs these days than there ever used to be. It used to be that you got a job close to home and stayed there straight through to retirement. Now a days, one often moves to take on a new job and considering the size of Canada that can be a very long way from home.