Losing your job can be devastating in both an emotional and financial way. It can be hard to get a recovery plan in place when you’re unable to think straight or have confidence in yourself.
I sadly saw this happen first-hand with my dad a few years ago. He lost his job and never recovered. Eventually, my parents were forced into retirement, but watching him lose hope and motivation was difficult.
To some extent, I’ve also been through it. While I’ve never been let go from a job, I did quit a job to relocate for my fiance’s career. At the same time, I decided to give self-employment a try. Going from a steady paycheck to earning nothing was hard. I felt useless, worthless, and inadequate, even if it was self-imposed.
These are normal feelings to experience when you are unemployed, but when you lose your job, it’s important to know what you should do to get back on track. Here are a few steps to take.
Take Time to Reflect After You Lose Your Job
Time is a bit of a luxury for those who have emergency savings, to fall back on. If you don’t, and need another job right away, feel free to move on to the next piece of advice.
It’s important to reflect on what, if anything, went wrong at your last job to keep yourself from making the same mistakes moving forward. Not everyone gets the full story or the truth when they lose a job, but hopefully you have some sort of idea as to why it happened.
Think about what you want from your career. You want to bounce back better than ever, and the best way to do that is to recognize your faults and work on them.
Again, not all firings will be the result of your direct actions, but if they were, figure out how you can be a better employee and take the necessary steps to get there. This will help you stay in a positive mindset when looking for your next job.
Don’t Be Afraid to Rely on Your Network
Some people feel a little ashamed to ask their friends and contacts if they know who’s hiring. Don’t feel that way! That’s what having a network is for. Most people, in my experience, are glad to help out, especially if you’ve done them a favor in the past.
I know you’re probably sick of hearing it, but it’s who you know, not what you know. I mentioned earning next to nothing when I switched to freelancing, but thankfully, after around six months, work started picking up. Why? I reached out to people I knew, and they were gracious enough to recommend me. All of my clients were referred to me.
There’s tremendous value in having a network, especially after you lose your job. If you’re starting from scratch, go to local meetups where experts in your industry meet. Search around online for local organizations that are a good fit and attend meetings. Everyone is there to talk and network – there’s no reason to be shy.
Always Be Learning
I don’t like to stay stagnant. It’s much more fun to learn things constantly. By taking on different types of work with my clients, I get to offer more services which makes me more valuable.
Building up your skill set is always a good idea, especially if you’re looking to work in a different industry.
If you think your resume is a little sparse, learning different skills and programs relevant to your industry may help you look better. There are many educational resources available that are either free or fairly inexpensive that you can use right from your computer.
Additionally, finding a fun side job can help you develop more skills (and gain more confidence).
Get Your Resume Up to Date
You need an updated resume to apply to jobs! If it’s been a while since you created one, perhaps a total refresh is needed.
If you’re not getting any responses, have a few trusted friends look yours over. There are a lot of free resources out there on how to improve your resume. I know it can be a pain to write, but putting in the effort is worth it, especially if you don’t have a strong network.
Have a Bare-Bones Budget
All right, let’s get into the financial side of things. Losing a job means a huge loss of income, which can lead to some panicking and not knowing what to do.
First, create a bare-bones budget featuring only the necessities. That basically means the things you need to survive, and minimum debt payments. You need to cut all extraneous expenses as they just became a luxury.
Remember, it’s only temporary. It doesn’t matter whether or not you have debt right now – living off of credit is far too expensive to be worthwhile. Again, having an emergency fund, helps take some of the pressure off if things are tight.
If you lose your job and are receiving unemployment benefits or have a severance package from your employer, be very wise with how you use these funds. Prioritize paying the bills. You don’t want to get behind and end up on the hook for late payments.
Don’t Be Too Prideful
When my dad lost his job, my grandmother came to the rescue quite a few times. It was very obvious my mom didn’t want to take her help, but without her, I’m not sure where we would have ended up.
Don’t let your pride get in the way of receiving help. I know it can feel awkward, like you’re going to be indebted to someone else, but realize they just want you to be happy, and they’re probably worried. If someone offers you a gift in good will, then take it – don’t let it go to waste.
Check Unemployment Eligibility
If you were let go through no fault of your own, you may be eligible for unemployment. It’s always worth checking with your employer and your state to see if you qualify.
Otherwise, consider negotiating a severance package with your former employer. If you’ve had an excellent track record, and you’re being let go because of budget cuts or re-structuring, it’s worth asking about.
Get Your Insurance Sorted Out
Did you have insurance through your employer? You’ll need to figure out your coverage going forward. According to healthcare.gov, you can look into COBRA or a marketplace plan for health insurance. COBRA requires a payment to be kept on the same plan your employer offered, or you can enroll in a marketplace plan even if the open enrollment period has ended.
While I know looking for a new job is exhausting in all sorts of ways, it’s important not to give up. This is just a small blip in your life. Have confidence in yourself that you can succeed elsewhere, do what you need to do to get ahead, and surround yourself with support. You’ll get through it!
Have you ever had to face a period of unemployment? What did you do to find your next job? How important is having a good network? What is the first thing you’d recommend doing after losing a job?