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I Lost My Job. What Do I Do Now?

Being laid off can be a stressful and difficult experience, but there are some important steps you can take to get yourself organized and back on your feet. Here they are:

  1. Evaluate your financial situation.

Take a look at your family income, monthly expenses, emergency fund, and other investments. This can help determine the urgency of your job search and can help you organize your efforts. A key question to ask yourself is “how long can I manage without a job?”

If the answer to that question is “not long”, then you may want to look first for part-time work or to the gig economy to make up the shortfall. until you find a more permanent position. It also may mean that you accept a less than ideal full-time position, while you keep searching for a more ideal position.

  1. Apply for unemployment benefits

If you qualify for unemployment benefits, be sure to apply as soon as possible. The amount provided varies by state but it’s free money (and you actually contributed to the insurance pool when you were working) so don’t be ashamed to claim your benefit.

  1. Understand the reason for the layoff

If you can, try to find out the reason you were laid off. Was it due to financial reasons or restructuring at the company? This can help you understand if the layoff was due to anything you could control and can help you tailor both your job search and actions moving forward.

  1. Update your resume and online profiles

Update your resume and online profiles (such as LinkedIn and other job sites) to reflect your most recent work experience. Make sure your resume is tailored to the types of jobs you’re interested in. Look to see if there are any recruiting firms that specialize in your field. It may also be helpful to get a friend, former colleague, or a professional to review your resume and provide feedback to best position yourself for the next opportunity.

  1. Network

Reach out to friends, family, former colleagues, and acquaintances to let them know you’re looking for a job. Attend industry events, join professional organizations, and connect with people on LinkedIn. Networking can help you find job opportunities that aren’t advertised.

  1. Clean up your financial house

Consider if you had any insurance coverage from company benefits that you might need to replace. The most important one is typically health insurance and companies are required by law to offer you continuing coverage (called COBRA insurance) for up to 18 months. This insurance doesn’t come cheap but needing health care without insurance could be financially devastating. Depending on the benefits offered at your next job, you may also need to reevaluate your life/disability insurance needs.

If you have a 401(k) or another retirement plan with your former employer, you might want to move these assets into an IRA and consolidate with other investment assets. If you have a pension, a deeper dive may be in order as to the options available to you.

If you have stock options or another more complex form of compensation, it will be important to make sure you understand your choices for handling them. I will be writing a separate piece on these considerations very soon.

  1. Take care of yourself

Losing a job can be emotionally and mentally difficult, so it is important to take care of yourself. Make sure you get enough rest, eat healthily, exercise, and lean on your support system of friends and family. Remember that getting laid off is not a reflection of your worth as a person or a professional. Stay focused on your job search and keep moving forward.


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