28May
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There’s a big difference between getting laid off and getting fired, and it’s much more than just how big a hit your ego takes. You qualify for unemployment payments if you’re laid off, but not that’s not so likely if you get fired.

It’s vital that you qualify for the “laid off” label so you can obtain financial compensation to help pay the bills while you’re looking for a new job. With unemployment coverage being strained and reduced during the Great Recession, however, it’s become tougher to qualify.

It’s almost entirely up to your (former) employer whether you’re laid off or fired, and emotions can certainly get into the mix. First, remember that simply handling unemployment claims as an employer requires more time and effort than firing someone.

It’s easier to fire someone, especially in an at-will state. How can you make the case for getting laid off instead?

Present your case

Behave professionally no matter what, even if you’re so burned out that getting fired doesn’t sound too bad. You’ll likely be called in for an “exit interview” where you’ll be informed that you’re being fired.

This is the best opportunity you have to request a layoff instead. Appeal to the HR manager’s empathetic side, but don’t get too personal. If you’re polite, and keep it together and nice, they’re more likely to react in kind.

If you get told no anyway, don’t be afraid to talk to someone else. Perhaps there’s an executive you’re close to or another person in HR you can meet with.

It’s much easier to arrange for the label you want while you’re still at the company than to pursue the fight through the state’s unemployment department, which is invariably overworked. Working with your HR department is always the best approach, but remember that they’re still people and they’ll naturally talk to one another, so choose your words wisely.

Start unemployment on the right foot

Different states have different requirements for obtaining unemployment benefits. Once you’re officially laid off, immediately do your research into the details.

You might be required to attend a class, take placement tests, and show proof that you’re engaged in job hunting at regular intervals. Many people don’t bother with these steps and miss out on the compensation they’re due.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s not much effort to get a regular check, and it can make the difference between settling for the next job offer or waiting for something really appropriate. When you apply correctly the first time around, it makes everything easier.

Highlight your relevant skills, whether it’s analyzing usage data or creating the perfect foie gras. Your skills will speak for themselves.

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