As Amazon, Citigroup and Google open 2024 with layoffs, experts say unemployed workers should take these steps

Personal finance

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The start of 2024 has not been kind to workers in industries that opened the year with layoffs.

Google has cut several hundred jobs in its central engineering, hardware and assistant teams. Amazon is shedding hundreds of positions across its Prime Video, MGM Studios, Twitch livestreaming and Audible divisions.

Tech is not the only sector to make headlines for job cuts. Citigroup is cutting 10% of its workforce amid a corporate overhaul.

Recent U.S. Department of Labor data shows layoffs have been hovering near historic lows — and experts say getting laid off no longer has the same stigma it once did.

“Being let go from a job is not as taboo as it once was years ago,” said Scott Dobroski, career trends expert at Indeed.

“There’s a variety of changes going on in the world of work. There have been a number of layoffs across the nation,” he said.

The following steps can help you shore up your finances and kick-start your job search.

1. Calculate severance pay, unused time off

You may receive a severance package from your employer or get paid for unused time off. Keep in mind that such time may be prorated based on the time of year, rather than your full annual allotment.

Find out when you might get your last paycheck and how the pay schedule works to better gauge the size of that deposit, advised Ted Jenkin, a certified financial planner and CEO of oXYGen Financial, a financial advisory and wealth management firm based in Atlanta. Jenkin is also a member of the CNBC Financial Advisor Council.

If you’re able to find a new job quickly, you may be able to bank the severance pay, he noted.

Also be sure to file for unemployment benefits right away, because getting approved can take weeks.

2. Consult with experts on your exit

If your company wants you to sign a noncompete clause, you may want to negotiate for that language to be removed from your severance agreement, said Vicki Salemi, career expert at Monster, as that may free you up to entertain more companies as prospective employers.

An employment lawyer may help you negotiate those terms.

Additionally, if you’re looking to better manage the tax implications of the money you receive, you may want to talk to an accountant, Salemi suggested.

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3. Book important medical appointments

Now is a great time to get in any doctor’s appointments you need to make if you still have your employer-provided plan and flexible spending account, and before COBRA kicks in.

That should include dental and vision care, if possible, Jenkin said.

4. Take stock of any 401(k) loans you’ve taken

If you have taken a loan from your 401(k), check with your retirement plan provider to see what will happen to that balance after a job loss, Jenkin said.

Some plans may require the loan be paid back within 90 days, while others may allow you to roll the loan to a new 401(k), for example.

“If that loan is not paid back, it can become taxable income,” Jenkin said.

5. Use tools to boost your job search

The amount of work it takes to find a new job can be greatly reduced if you use technological tools, according to Dobroski.

Let your social media connections know you are looking for work. Also be sure to update profiles on job search sites with your skills, experience and what you want in a new role.

Using those tools may help you discover roles you may not have otherwise considered, said Dobroski, who has seen bank tellers transition to sales executives after finding the role was also a fit for their skill set.

“We’ve seen some people get jobs quicker and earn salaries of upward of $30,000, $35,000 or more because they’re finding a job that way,” Dobroski said.

6. Commit to at least one daily job-hunting task

Searching for a job can admittedly be an exhausting and frustrating process.

To keep yourself on track, a good rule of thumb is to commit to doing one thing every day, Dobroski said.

That may include updating your resume, applying for a specific job, creating a new profile on a job search website or talking to a mentor.

7.  Perfect your resume and other materials

As you revise your resume, be sure to include any new achievements or skills that could put you at the top of an employer’s list of job candidates.

Be sure to highlight transferable skills, Salemi said, such as the ability to lead with empathy, handle deadline-driven work and operate under a company’s budget. Looking at past performance reviews can help jog your memory, she suggested.

As news of layoffs continues to make headlines, keep in mind that new opportunities are still abundant.

“With the unemployment numbers at 3.7%, clearly there are still a lot of jobs that are out there,” Jenkin said.

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