Losing a job can be devastating. Without a steady source of income, you may wonder what you will do to survive. Depending on your age and experience level, it may be difficult for you to get a job to replace the one that you’ve been at for many years.
But losing a job is not the end of the world. Many people lose and find jobs during the course of their lifetimes. Sometimes they even end up in situations where they are better off than they were when they started.
If you have just gotten laid off, here are some steps you should take to make sure your finances don’t suffer while getting yourself in a good position for finding new work.
Apply for Unemployment
The first step anyone should take when they are unemployed is to file for unemployment. The income you get from the state will not make up for your entire weekly salary, but it will keep money coming in.
There is no set rule regarding the amount you will get. This will vary according to where you live and how much money you were making. The severance plan you get from work may affect how much you are eligible for as well.
Most states will allow you to collect unemployment for 26 weeks.
There are some other things that will affect your eligibility including the following:
- Quit, Fired or Laid Off? If you were laid off from your job you will be eligible for unemployment but if you were fired or quit you may not be eligible.
- How Long Did You Work: Every state has a minimum number of hours and a minimum amount of money you must have earned at your last job to collect unemployment. Check your state’s rules and make sure you meet the requirements before applying.
- It was a W2 Job: For the most part, losing freelance and independent contract work will not make you eligible for unemployment.
Apply for Food Stamps
If your income is low enough, you may also be able to apply for Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program or food stamps. Every state is different regarding eligibility requirements. However, you will be able to go through a pre-screening process to find out whether or not you will be accepted.
During the reviewal process, the following information will be determined.
- How Much You Make: Your income will be considered in the eligibility process. The amount you make will be reviewed as well as the number of family members you are supporting.
- Other Resources: This includes bank accounts, vehicles, retirement plans and investments.
- Employment Status: The Assistance Program will want to see whether or not you are working, and they will also want to make sure you are continuing to look for work. They will ask you to make regular updates to your account to confirm that you are not turning down any work, that you are seeking employment and that you are updating your skills by participating in training programs.
Stay in Touch with Your Old Job
Getting laid off usually means that you may get rehired at some point in time. However, this is not always the case.
Either way, it’s important to stay on good terms with the business you were working for. After all, they may be required to provide a reference if you are being considered for new employment. Therefore, it’s advisable to make your parting as copacetic as possible. Sending letters to your superiors to thank them for the opportunity may be in order.
Additionally, staying on good terms may get you in a position to argue for a better severance package. You might be able to negotiate an extra month of severance if you’ve been working at the company for a while and brought a lot to the table while you were there.
If you think you may get your job back, stay in touch with the company by writing or calling every few weeks to find out how they are doing and what their plans are as far as working you back into the fold.
Get Your Finances in Order
Once the smoke clears, you will want to get a handle on your financial situation to figure out what kind of shape you are in.
Start by considering how much money you have coming in. This includes any money from unemployment, investments, your severance and so one. Then weigh this against necessary expenses such as rent, utility, food and so on.
If you have an emergency fund, now may be the time when you will need to dip into it. While you may be tempted to dive into the savings in your a 401k plan, keep in mind that this carries a hefty penalty and should only be seen as a last resort. Roth IRAs are a better option as you can pull out your contributions any time without paying extra tax or a penalty.
Once you have everything figured out, look for any cuts you can make. Eating out, making frivolous purchases and going on vacation may not be viable options at this time.
Prepare Yourself for the Job Market
Whether you think your company may hire you back or not, you should start looking at other job opportunities while taking steps to make yourself look as attractive to employers as possible. Start by dusting off your resume. Update it to add any new job experience and make sure it is in a modern format.
And don’t forget about online formats. With LinkedIn and other sites available to job seekers and head hunters, you will want to make sure you look professional across the board. Adding public recommendations to online profiles can also be helpful.
Speaking of online formats, it is common for employers to check out potential employees’ social media accounts. Make sure yours doesn’t have any pictures or posts that may negatively affect your professional reputation.
Improving your online and offline resumes is a good start, but the way you perform at interviews will be critical. Think of typical questions you may be asked by potential employers and come up with suitable responses. This will help you come off as a confident and knowledgeable employee.
While much of the job hunting process will take place on an online format, face to face contact can be invaluable. Follow up on your efforts by attending conferences and industry events to find out about job opportunities.
Signing up for a workshop or training program is also recommended. Being laid off gives you the time you need to boost your skills and make yourself a more desirable employee.
Supplement Your Income
The internet provides us with many ways of increasing revenue. You can take advantage of the resources available to you to supplement your income while you are unemployed. Here are some suggestions.
- Sell Your Stuff: If you have things around your house that you don’t use but that you think may be worth something to someone, you can sell them on Ebay to bring in extra money.
- Sell Your Crafts: if you are handy and can make items you think people will be interested in buying, you can sell them on a site like Etsy. If things really take off, you can even go into business for yourself as an alternative to going back to work.
- Rent Your Assets: Air BnB and other vacation rental sites provide a convenient way for people to earn money renting out properties. But there are other sites that allow you to rent out your RV, van, truck, closet space and more. With a bit of poking around, you may be surprised to find out how many of your assets can make you money.
- Start a Blog of Vlog: If you are a decent writer and/or have a valuable skill you can teach to someone, you may be interested in starting a blog. If you’re more charismatic and visually oriented, a vlog may be more your speed. These are great outlets for bringing in money through subscriptions, advertising, and affiliate marketing.
- Freelance: While you are waiting for work, you can use your skills to pursue freelance opportunities. It is pretty easy to find openings on sites like Upwork and Fiverr and you can make a considerable income while working on your own terms.
Being out of work can lead to anxiety and depression. Not only is this bad for your mental and physical health, it can also cause diminished self confidence that will hurt your job search more than it helps. It can also result in you taking a job you don’t want.
Taking steps to control your finances while working on other projects will keep you in a positive mindset so you don’t become overly depressed and anxious.
Getting laid off is a big deal. Fortunately, there are things you can do to improve your financial situation so you can get through this difficult time.