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Lessons Learned by Being Laid Off

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On Friday, May 9, one of the vice presidents walked into my office and fired me. Little did I know that I was the second casualty of five (10% of the staff) to be laid off on that Black Friday.

I’m headed to a better life with my own solo law firm. I have a small, growing client base, and new opportunities pop up every day.

But I want to highlight a couple things I learned by being laid off. It was unexpected, shocking, surreal, and enraging. Here is what it taught me:

Maintain your teeth

Last August was the first time in my life that I ever had dental insurance. My parents always took us for regular cleanings, but payments were out-of-pocket. When we were hired, my wife and I opted to get on the company dental plan, which really paid off.

Since August, I had my wisdom teeth extracted and three small cavities filled. Of course, I’ve had two regular cleanings as well. Most of the expense was paid by for by the dental insurance company!

Now that I’m self-employed, dental insurance sure is expensive, so I’m not going to get it. My teeth are all taken care of now, so I can afford to just pay for my cleanings.

It’s best to maintain your teeth, since you never know when that spiffy insurance will dry up.

Use the flex health plan

Have you opted into your employer’s flexible health savings plan? Here’s why you should.

In January, we decided to have $3,900 taken out for medical expenses for the year. At the time of our lay-off, we had spent about $3,200 on medical expenses. You can do that because you get the entire flexible spending amount on January 1. It’s sort-of like a medical expenses loan that gets taken out of your paycheck each week.

But the cool part is that only about $1,500 had been withheld from my paycheck by the time I was laid off. I was a bit worried that we’d have to pay the difference from my small severance pay, but we don’t. The employer bears the risk that you’ll leave the company in the hole with your health savings plan. Neat, isn’t it?

Keep your resume updated

I chose not to seek out another full time employment position. But if I had, my resume was ready. It’s always updated and at-the-ready.

To make my resume 100% ready for use, all I had to do was add the final date of my previous employment. I also made sure that my list of duties was accurate and updated.

Since you never know when opportunity will knock (or when you’ll be kicked to the curb), you should always have a resume ready. Here are my 52 resume tips, and Daily Writing Tips has 44 tips of their own.

Think about addresses

As an attorney, I’m a member of several professional associations and the Virginia State Bar. They all require contact information.

When I registered with these groups, I gave them my work address, phone, and email. But I see now that it was a mistake. One of the first things I had to do was update all this address information.

For this reason, I suggest considering the address that you use when registering with professional organizations. Your home address might be a good, stable choice.

Back to work…

That’s what I’ve learned so far. I’m trying to take this life change in stride. A door has closed, but God’s opening up many others.

And now I have to do some work for clients. That’s a good thing!

Photo by madebytess

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7 Responses to “Lessons Learned by Being Laid Off”

  1. Ryan
    May 21st, 2008

    Hey Andrew

    Since going on your own, what effect have you had from the fact you have your personal and business websites. Have they helped in generating any leads.


  2. Nicole
    May 21st, 2008


    Very keen insight. I write a blog about career management and I couldn’t not post this on my blog as well. I have so much experience helping people through these types of events from the outside but your perspective was refreshing and practical. I am certain you will land on your feet. Good luck!


  3. Ann Levine
    May 22nd, 2008

    Andrew, I can tell you from personal experience that getting laid off was the best thing that ever happened to my family and my career (and my income!). Good luck in your endeavors!

  4. That is very interesting about the flex plan. I didn’t realize it worked like that if you were let go. Is it the same if you quit?

    I’m curious to hear what you are doing about health insurance.

  5. Andrew Flusche
    June 5th, 2008

    Thanks for all the kind words!

    @Ryan – My websites have helped tremendously with client leads. In fact, most of my clients have contacted me as a direct result of my websites.

    @Mark – We have been using Anthem for our health insurance for about 4 years now. It was actually cheaper to keep our individual policy than to participate in the employer’s group plan. That has worked out quite well for us.

  6. prosperingservant
    November 6th, 2008

    I can very much relate. I went through a similar experience after 9/11. You can read about it on my blog by clicking the link next to this comment.