Okay, you have been laid off. You’ve been given a pink slip. Or, worst case scenario, you have just been flat out fired. It happens to the best of us. But, what you do afterwards is what can make the difference between a long, desperate job hunt and a well thought out game plan of attack. If you haven’t been let go yet, you might be one of the 50% of Americans who are worried about losing their jobs. If that’s the case, planning now for unemployment can greatly speed up and smooth out your transition between jobs.
So, what should you do right after being laid off?
File For Unemployment. If you are laid off of work, you are automatically qualified to claim state unemployment benefits. Typically, you can expect to receive about $300 a week for 46 weeks or 59 weeks if you live in a state with a high unemployment rate. In some states, you can file for unemployment online and skip the long lines. In order to claim benefits, you have to be unemployed through no fault of your own. You cannot quit your job or fired for misconduct and claim benefits. A lot of states also require that you have worked for four out of the past five quarters to be able to qualify.
Think About Health Insurance. When I graduated from college, there was a gap between my last day of school and the first day I started working. So, my in-laws got my wife and I COBRA insurance. Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) health benefit provisions provide certain former employees, retirees, spouses, former spouses, and dependent children the right to temporary continuation of health coverage at group rates. This coverage, however, is only available when coverage is lost due to certain specific events. Like this example, you should think about and make plans for continuing your health insurance if you are laid off.
Rethink Your Budget. When you see a layoff coming or right after you have been laid off, that is the best time to rethink your monthly budget at home. Are you overspending in certain categories? Do you really need 300 cable television channels when you only watch fifty? Do you eat out at a restaurant every week? There are always a few things that we can eliminate from our budget as excess or luxury items. Most of the times, we just do not want to admit that our favorite items like HBO are luxuries.
Spruce Up Your Resume. The best time to update your resume is before you need to use it. As you continue to earn degrees or certifications, constantly update your resume with your latest accomplishments. Updating it a little bit along will save you from having to make a lot of changes all at once. Another thing to keep in mind about your resume is that just blasting it out to a million job offers or business will not greatly increase your odds of landing the job of your dreams. Consider tweaking your resume and cover letter for each job description that you are applying for.
Reconnect With Your Network. Believe it or not, most of the jobs available are not advertised in the newspaper or online. You will find your best chances through friends and acquaintances in your network. You should be networking long before you need a new job. In my job, I am constantly keeping in touch with old bosses and peers in order to stay up-to-date and in contact with people and practices. Most network connections work best when you start by not needing something from someone right away.
Attack Your Job Hunt. Think of looking for a new job as your job. You should try and actively job hunt between 9am and 5pm every day that you are looking for a new job. You were already used to working at least eight hours a day already when you had a job. It should be easy to continue on the same schedule while you are pursuing a new job.