What To Do When You’re On Furlough

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Updating ResumeIn this recession, companies are turning to furloughs, or unpaid leave, as a way to cut costs without cutting people. As you can imagine, being furloughed is never a good thing. Companies in good financial shape generally don’t furlough their staff, it’s usually companies that need to cut costs or are having difficulty with cash flow. It’s not uncommon for a company to furlough staff one week and then decide they need to have layoffs the next. While that’s not always the case, you plan for the worst and hope for the best.

So, what should you do when you’re on furlough?

Take The Day Off

If you haven’t had a day off in a while, take advantage of the furlough by taking it easy. Complete some jobs you’ve been meaning to do around the house, go out hiking or just walk around the local mall. Take it easy, let your mind relax and unwind a little, and don’t stress yourself about the fact that you’re on furlough.

It’s important for you to be relaxed because you will need to keep your wits about you if you are laid off. People make mistakes when they are under stress or emotionally compromised. If you’re furloughed for a week, take the first day off to decompress and remember that you have the rest of the week to be “productive.” By resetting yourself, you are able to give your all the rest of the time.

Polish & Update Your Resume

I recommend that you update your resume every three months because it’s important to keep that document as fresh as possible. If you don’t want to update it that often, consider keeping an accomplishment journal so you have a good record of your career successes.

With some unpaid free time on your hand, it’s important to remain productive. While it’s good to take the first day off, you probably don’t want to relax for the entire furlough period. By polishing and updating your resume, you are preparing yourself for what may be coming down the pike.

Rather than just worrying about your job, you’re taking control of the situation and doing something about it – that’s empowering.

Search For A New Job

This is something you must do with great care. Since we’re preparing for the day we may get fired, it’s important to start the shopping process now. Do everything you would do if you had been actually fired, rather than furloughed. If you were going to put your resume up on online job sites like, then submit it.

Scrub your resume of identifying information. Many sites let you post anonymously, for your protection, but if you work at a small firm, knowing what projects you worked on may be enough to give away who you are. Be careful to review your resume of all personal identifying information and remove it so you don’t get caught looking. Shopping around for a new job when you already have one carries some risk with it, but if you’re careful you can get the process started early.

Furloughs may be a good time for you to reflect on your career choices. Maybe you don’t like what you’re doing and want to go back to school? Maybe you do enjoy what you do and want to recommit yourself to doing it better. Or maybe you simply don’t have that luxury because your financial situation is so tight and you can’t afford to sit around, that’s important to recognize also.

In the end, you’re forced to take the time off so it’s best to be as productive as possible with it. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Do you have any other suggestions for workers being furloughed?

(Photo: pesut)

{ 8 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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8 Responses to “What To Do When You’re On Furlough”

  1. Miranda says:

    Great ideas for being on furlough. I like the idea of reflection. And preparation. While it may seem like wasted time, if you have some extra furlough time, it can be quite productive.

  2. Dave says:

    I think one of the best things to do is refocus your life on your goals. We always complain we dont have enough time when working. Well, now there is a ton of time so start working toward your goals. Never a better time to do so.


  3. It’s funny, but before starting any big assignment, I usually take a few minutes to de-stress. It helps me clear my mind and get focused. I may get up and take a walk, or knock a few short emails out of my inbox. I like the idea of updating your resume every three months. I only do this once a year, so I’ll have to pick up the pace.

  4. Depends on how long it lasts. If it’s a week or so, the rest and resume update sound productive. If it’s a few weeks or a couple of months, and assuming it doesn’t represent a probable permanent job loss, it might not be a bad idea to work on a new skill or two. It’s usually easier to start that when you’re schedule is more open than as a weekend/evening arrangment.

    You can’t go wrong with learning new computer applications, a foreign language or public speaking. Might be just the edge you need if the furlough turns into something a little less temporary.

  5. LinearChaos says:

    Great post topic! Furloughs have hit state workers here in AZ extremely hard and someone dear to me is suffering.

    The accomplishment journal is a great idea. I actually created a CV to keep track of everything and I use that to create specialized resumes when I need to. Sure beats trying to drum up the information from the depths of my brain when the need for a resume comes up!

  6. eric says:

    I feel bad for our state workers too.

  7. Another good idea might be to review your personal finances and find ways to cut back. If your job is shaky, getting your finances in order will bring down one stressor in life.

    It also would be a good time to reconnect with key people who you might not have talked with for a while. The networking might help if you get laid off.

  8. uptempo777 says:

    How about you get another job during those days you have off? Replace that income with some other part-time income.

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