The first steps to take after becoming unemployed.
I know how you’re feeling, I have been there. It wasn’t me personally who lost my job (I am a stay at home mom), but it was my husband. Within a heartbeat our only source of income vanished. The financial security blanket for me, our three children and my husband was yanked out of our hands and our world was turned completely upside down. We had the same questions you are probably asking; “Why me?” “What now?” “Where do I begin?” and “How will we survive?” I want you to know, that it WILL all be ok! I have been through it and never thought we would survive, but we did, and you will too!! This article is to help you know exactly what to do if you lose your job.
Take a Breath
First, take a long deep breath. You need to take a moment to just be still. If you enjoy meditating…meditate. If you believe in prayer, pray. No doubt you have a million thoughts and emotions running through your head. You have a long road ahead of you, and you will need to be in the best state of mind as possible.
Apply for Unemployment
One of the very first things you should do when you lose your job is to apply for unemployment benefits. The process for unemployment will vary from state to state. Call, or better yet, stop by your local Unemployment Office to fill out the application and ask any and all questions you have.
The process is fairly straightforward and easy. The sooner you apply the quicker you will begin receiving benefits, so do this step ASAP!
Don’t let pride get in the way of applying for unemployment, we dragged out feet a little bit because we were to proud, and that was the wrong decision. Remember, this is a temporary situation and you’ll get right back on your feet again, it’s OK to have some help to keep you going.
Look Into Healthcare Options
Unfortunately, losing a job often means losing your health care plan as well. The good news is that there are options available for those out of work!
COBRA is a great health care option to look into. In short COBRA allows the unemployed to stay on their current employers coverage for a limited amount of time.
It’s important to remember that not everyone will qualify for COBRA and there are some pros and cons to this plan. I suggest doing some thorough research to help you decide if this is the right option for you. I found this this informative article you might want to look at for more details about health care through COBRA.
2. Marketplace Health Insurance (“Obamacare”)
The government health care marketplace, also known as Obamacare was introduced in 2010. This is a fantastic option when unemployed. You are able to buy a plan immediately after losing a job, no matter the circumstances. There are no rules or limitations! Be sure to enroll during the special enrollment period, 60 days after losing your employers health coverage.
3. Private Health Insurance
Another, usually more expensive option, is to buy a plan from Private Health insurance. I recommend a high deductible plan, which will give you lower monthly payments.
Medicaid offers financial assistance to low income individuals who are disabled, elderly, pregnant women, children and families. This service is not dependent on your job status, but your income and size of household. If you are unsure if you qualify or not, call your local Medicaid office and they can help you.
Decide What To Do With Your 401K
The next thing you need to do is decide what you want to do with your 401K. Here are a few suggestions of what you should do with this account:
1. Roll It Over
I highly recommend rolling your 401k account into a different retirement account. We prefer putting it into our IRA, because it gives us more investing options.
2. Leave It Alone
If you don’t want to roll it over to a new plan you can leave the 401k as is. I don’t recommend this, as it won’t grow as fast without someone managing it.
Take a Serious Look at Your Finances
It’s time to take a good long hard look at your financial situation. Take some time to sit down and go over your expenses. Try to determine how long your money will be able to cover your living expenses.
If you have an emergency fund (which I hope you do!) this is definitely a time to use it.
Make a Budget
You will need to make a budget based off of your new income, which might be zero for the time being. Be willing to make extreme budget cuts. This is not easy, but remind yourself it is temporary! You will be able to get back to your normal living situation in time.
The most important things to have in your budget are your necessary living expenses: food, shelter, transportation and utilities. Almost everything else can be cut out.
- Related: How to Make a Zero Based Budget
Dust off your resume and give it a good update. If you are unsure how to write a resume, or what to include research some free online tutorials or workshops. Your city might have some available, and there are plenty resources online.
Once your resume is updated begin dropping it off to local businesses you would like to work at. Putting your foot in the door never hurt anyone!
Network, Network, Network
One of the very most important things when searching for a new job is to network. Most jobs are found through word of mouth, which takes effort on your part!
Reach out to old friends, coworkers, etc. Ask if they know of any job openings. This is not a time to be shy. Put yourself out there! Most people will be more than willing to help!
If you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile, it’s time to make one. If you already have a LinkedIn profile, update it!
LinkedIn is a fantastic platform for marketing your skills while connecting with prospective employers and opportunities. Use it to your advantage. Engage with others, reach out, show some personality. This can be a huge benefit to you as you begin to network.
Apply For Jobs
Searching and applying for jobs should become a part of your new daily routine.
First, brainstorm a list of potential employers in your area. Get into the habit of calling and/or stopping in to these businesses every few weeks. Hand them your resume, show them your face, ask about job openings, and always be polite and professional (this is important!).
Next, check local job listings for any new leads. Look on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Indeed, Career Building and Glass Door daily. Apply for the ones you feel qualified for.
My rule of thumb, is that it never hurts to try! Send out that resume! You never know what might fall in your lap.
Practice Interview Questions
Use this extra time to prep yourself for upcoming interviews. Research possible interview questions and rehearse your answers. I encourage you to practice interviewing in front of a mirror. It helps you see yourself and your mannerisms and gives you some ideas of things you might want to change.
Make sure you do a thorough follow up after any contact with potential employers. This might be a simple phone call a week after dropping off your resume. Or, send out a thank you email after an interview. This shows future employers that you can take initiative and are serious about the job.
Honestly, these simple follow ups was what led my husband to his job during unemployment.
Most importantly, try to stay positive. I know how discouraging it can be to lose a job. I know how stressful it gets when door after door after door gets closed in your face. It is hard to stay positive during these hard times, but the more positive you can stay, the better this time will be.
Don’t forget to take time to do things that bring you joy. Go for a walk and get some exercise. Spend a night playing games as family. Read a favorite book. Take your mind off of your job search now and then in order to keep your spirits up.
Keep your chin up. Many people lose their jobs every day, and they are all able to find new ones, you will too! Please, reach out if you need any help or guidance. I am always here for you!
I have been through this tough struggle, and I am passionate about helping others get through it too!
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I hope this helps you to know what to do if you lose your job.