With all of the news about upcoming layoffs, employees need to know what steps to take before leaving Caterpillar. Retiring or worse, losing your job is a grandiose moment in your life. Your mind is racing and you simply just don’t know how to operate. The loss of a job, especially for those with over 20 years of service, affects the same receptors in the brain as the loss of a loved one. You have been connected with Caterpillar for 20 years and now the relationship is over.
The same five stages of grief apply for a person going through retirement or job loss. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to get through the lack of employment.
As the reality of the situation settles, your emotions will be a mess. You might feel upset one minute and annoyed the next, and it can be tempting to vent your frustrations. Remember, acting upon impulse almost never turns out well and can make a difficult situation ever worse.
Here are a few items to check off as you consider leaving Caterpillar:
1. Sit down and carefully analyze your finances, if you have a spouse, involve them in this process. This may be the perfect time to reach out to a Financial Advisor who knows the Caterpillar plan in detail. Avoid doing financial business with friends or family. Money and friendships do not mix. Contact me on LinkedIn if you need a referral.
2. Call your Credit Union or Bank and consider opening a line of credit against your home equity. Consider opening any additional credit cards to create an emergency money fund. As many of you have been employed your whole life, you won’t think of doing this… but once you are unemployed, it becomes exceedingly difficult to get credit, making it very important you take this line of action.
3. Go over your 401(k) contributions, if you were making them. We recommend seeking the guidance of a Financial Advisor to go over whether or not you should increase your contributions for your remaining time on payroll, or cease them entirely to build up more immediate cash. How you proceed may have big tax implications. On one hand, depending on how you stop contributing, you may end up in a much higher tax bracket due to your severance payment, unemployment, etc.
4. Many people are unaware of this but, it’s not always wise to file for unemployment immediately after the loss of a job. Depending on the time of year you are laid off, paired with your financial situation, it could be beneficial to wait to file your claim so that your unemployment payments fall in the next tax year, when your overall income is lower due to the fact that you’re unemployed. There are an overwhelming number of situations that you want to consider before making a move on this. We recommend speaking with a Caterpillar-focused retirement specialist to go over your options.
5. Unless you believe your layoff was deserved, speak to a trusted lawyer to go over your options. Venting your anger at managers and colleagues may feel amazing temporarily, but it will damage your career in the long run. You spent all this time building up your relations, why burn them now?
6. Have a plan for how to fill the void on your LinkedIn profile and your resume. If you are pursuing a new job, having a job makes it much easier when finding your next adventure. In the mean time, you might consider becoming a consultant until you find a permanent position.
7. Figure out what you will tell people, create your go-to statement and practice it, so you can say it without becoming too emotional. It will be normal for friends and acquaintances to ask, and we assume you won’t want to burst into tears or lash out every time the question is popped. However horrible you feel, it’s crucial to remain calm and act professional, and try to avoid doing anything that might hinder your reputation or integrity.