Retiring or worse, losing your job is a grandiose moment. Your mind is racing and you simply just don’t know how to operate. Loss of a job, especially for those with over 20 years of service, affects the same receptors in the brain as loss of a loved one. You have been connected with ExxonMobil 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 checkoff before leaving ExxonMobil:
- Sit down and analyze your finances (If you have a spouse involve them in this process). You’ll want to reach out to at least two financial planners who understand ExxonMobil’s benefit plan, NUA, and health coverage.
- It’s important to pick the date you leave the company based on the severance offer & current interest rates. If rates are low a 4-month severance may make sense. However if rates are high it may make sense to not accept the severance offer. Interest rates have been declining for quite awhile now and a change in interest rates could significantly impact your ExxonMobil lump-sum payment amount. As rates go down your lump-sum increases. Conversely, if interest rates go up your lump-sum will increase. You may also want to defer your benefit commencement if you believe that interest rates will continue to drop. ExxonMobil’s interest rates are determined quarterly, so this means you could potentially leave the company in the fourth quarter of 2020 but commence your benefits in the first quarter of 2021, thus taking advantage of the first quarter interest rates.
- 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.
- Go over your 401(k) contributions, if you were making them. We recommend seeking the guidance of a financial planner 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.
- Many people are unaware of is but, it’s not always beneficial to file for unemployment immediately. 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 retirement specialist to go over your options.
- Unless you believe your layoff was deserved, speak to a 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?
- 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 gig.
“The Retirement/Transition Guide for ExxonMobil Employees.” The Retirement Group, The Retirement Group, 11 Aug. 2020, https://energy.theretirementgroup.com/exxonmobil-guide-download-google