There are two labor markets nowadays. There's the market for people who have been out of work for less than six months, and the market for people who have been out of work longer.--The Terrifying Reality of Long-Term Unemployment
Many laid off workers I know decide they want to "take a break" in between jobs, especially if they got some severance. Big mistake!
In today's job market you simply can't afford to do that. Too many potential employers are only interested in you if you're currently employed or have only recently been laid off.
Here's a money quote from an article in the Atlantic on some research into the impact of long-term unemployment on your ability to find a new job:
As long as you've been out of work for less than six months, you can get called back even if you don't have experience. But after you've been out of work for six months, it doesn't matter what experience you have. Quite literally. (my emphasis) There's only a 2.12 percentage point difference in callback rates for the long-term unemployed with or without industry experience. That's compared to a 7.13 and 8.95 percentage point difference for the short-and-medium-term unemployed. This is what screening out the long-term unemployed looks like. In other words, the first thing employers look at is how long you've been out of work, and that's the only thing they look at if it's been six months or longer. (my emphasis)
That's right. The longer you are unemployed, the harder it is to find a job. In fact, your best likelihood for finding a job comes in the first few weeks after you've been laid off. That's when your skills are freshest and when people are most willing to help you out.
I'm in the process of working on a series of posts about things you need to do when you get a lay-off notice, but here's the one piece of advice I want you take right now:
If you lose your job, your # 1 priority needs to be finding another one, ASAP.
Don't take a break to rejuvenate. Don't take time off to figure out your next move. Don't say "I'll take the summer to be with the kids and then look for a job in the fall." You. Will. Be. Sorry.
Even if you think you want to start a business, I still encourage you to put some time into a job search. You don't know how your self-employment efforts are going to go and believe me, it's easier to start a new business when you're not freaking out about how you're going to pay your electric bill.
I've worked with too many people who have put off job searching until it was too late. You cannot afford to lose a single day in this process. The time to look for a new position is yesterday.