Losing your job sucks. There’s no other way to put it. When it’s unexpected — no warnings, no sit-down meetings with management to talk about your performance — it can feel even worse.
What do you do? How do you get back on your feet?
Be prepared to feel a lot of emotions, first off. You’ll feel angry, hurt, and shocked. You might go through periods of feeling numb or lifeless. It’s hard to start thinking practically when you’re feeling all of the emotions, which is why you have this blog post to turn to. Follow this practical guide for what to do next if you’ve been let go from your job.
KNOW YOUR BENEFITS
You should apply for unemployment benefits right away, especially if you’ve been let go because of the coronavirus. If you have a hard time asking for help, filing for unemployment can feel like pouring salt on an already open wound. It’s common to feel ashamed or embarrassed, or that you don’t “need” unemployment benefits. But that’s what they’re there for. That’s what you’ve been paying taxes for! Take advantage of them.
Check up on continuing your healthcare coverage, too. COBRA allows workers to continue using their employer’s insurance and health benefits for a certain time period after losing their job. Speak to your company’s human resources department, and do some research on COBRA coverage of your own.
What about benefits like your 401(k) plan, accrued paid vacation time, or stock options? Again, talk to an HR rep at your company to make sure you’re not missing out on any money you’re owed.
CHECK ON YOUR EMERGENCY FUND
You don’t know how long you’ll be unemployed, and depending on the state you live in, you can receive anywhere from 12 weeks to 26 weeks of unemployment benefits. Under the CARES Act, you get an additional 13 weeks on top of that.
If unemployment benefits are not enough to meet your needs, well, that’s where your emergency fund comes in. You should have a minimum of three to six months of income saved in your emergency fund to cover unexpected events like these. You should save even more if you have a partner, children, or other family members that depend on your income. Try to continue putting money into your emergency savings while you’re between jobs, if possible.
LOOK AT YOUR BUDGET
When your source of income has changed, your budget needs to change, too. If you haven’t been budgeting prior to losing your job, there’s no time like the present to start.
Look at your incoming funds from unemployment benefits, or how much you need to take from your emergency fund to cover essential expenses. Evaluate your current expenses and see what you can trim, get rid of, or put on hold. For example, lower your weekly grocery budget or pause your gym membership to cut down on spending for the time being.
Don’t know where to start with budgeting? Or maybe spreadsheets and previous budgeting systems didn’t work out for you? The BudgetingBlocks™ system might be right up your alley, then. It’s worth the investment to keep your budget on track, even after you start your new career.
SCHEDULE TIME TO JOB HUNT
It’s easy to fall into a kind of non-routine after you lose your job: sleep in, park yourself on the couch, binge a new show on Netflix all day. You get the idea. While it’s totally understandable to have those days every once in a while, you should stick to a job hunting schedule in order for it to be effective. A schedule can also help you feel productive and keep your self-esteem up.
Before you go on an intense job hunting spree, think about what you want out of your next job. Do you want to stick with your current industry or try something new? How much do you want to make? What kind of financial benefits are you looking for? What about the non-financial benefits, like work-life balance and company culture? Think of this as an opportunity to find something you really want to do.
Once you know what you’re looking for, plan out your job hunt. Schedule blocks of hours every day to search for jobs, tweak your resume, and network with others. Take the time to apply for each job with care: learn about the company and consider if it’s really right for you. Understand what they’re looking for so you can write a kickass cover letter and wow your next potential employer.
GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK
Falling into a Netflix rabbit hole isn’t healthy, but neither is spending all day searching for jobs. That’s a surefire way to get discouraged and feel burnt out. Leave room in your daily schedule to do other things, both related to job hunting and not. If what you really want to do requires specialized training or certification, you have the time now to pursue them. Set aside time in your schedule to learn new skills or gain experience for your next gig.
Stay connected with your friends and family. Remember, your previous job was where you probably interacted with people the most. Losing that source of social interaction suddenly can lead to loneliness and feelings of isolation.
Keep practicing self-care during this time. Meditate, go for a walk outside, do yoga, take luxurious bubble baths, have a solo dance party. Do whatever you do to feel good mentally, physically, and emotionally. Take care of yourself so you can be in the best position to find your next job.