GM just announced more than 18,000 employees are going to be offered a buyout as part of a voluntary staff reduction effort. It's estimated that only 10-15 percent of those offered the buyout will take it. It's a tricky situation. If you are someone who needs to work and find a new job, the idea of taking the buyout can be both attractive and scary. You may love the idea of being able to pursue a new role without the stress of working all day. At the same time, the fear of not finding a new job and ending up without an income can make you opt to keep your current job. Especially, when studies show people who don't have jobs have a harder time getting work.

As a career coach, I can tell you that if you choose to take an employee buyout, there are three things you should do immediately.

1. Set a budget and tighten up the belt.

Resist the urge to splurge. You may want to take the money and go on a big trip or buy something expensive, but the goal should be to find a new job first. Then, once you have a steady income again, you can decide if you still want to reward yourself with the surplus cash from the buyout.

2. Get very clear on what skills you want to use next.

Invest time in evaluating who you are as a professional. Identify the strengths you want to leverage in the next role and outline how they save or make money for employers so you can market your skill and validate your value to hiring managers. Branding yourself as a specialist is the best way to stand out and get hired faster.

3. Build out an interview bucket list.

Research and develop a list of 10 - 20 companies that hire for the skill sets you want to use in your next role. Then, build a networking strategy that helps you set up informational interviews with people who work at these companies so you can A) learn more about what it takes to earn a job there, and B) develop relationships with people who can refer you to a hiring manager when a job that fits you comes available.

By doing the above, you can expedite the search process. Once you are in a new job, you'll be able to reward yourself for being proactive and not pushing off the job search process.

P.S. - Taking Time Off Can Really Work Against You!

Unfortunately, I've seen a lot of professionals opt to take several months off and have it come back to bite them. First, it makes it harder to get back into the job search groove. Additionally, employers will question why you took the time off and getting hired will be harder. It's not always easy to answer detailed questions in an interview about your decision to enjoy an extended vacation. While you might want to take a couple weeks off, don't push the job search off too long or you'll find it tough to explain.