What To Do When You Lose Your Job
What should you do when you lose your job? Where do you start and how do you move on? One of the worst things that can happen from a career perspective is to lose your job. That’s especially true when it’s unexpected and not your fault.
It’s emotional and traumatic to be laid off, and even worse to be fired. You’re out of work, you’re out of a paycheck, and you will lose the bond you have with your co-workers because it won’t ever really be the same again even though you’ll promise to stay in touch. It can be painful.
What To Do When You Lose Your Job
First, give yourself a little time to mourn a bit, especially if you loved your job. It’s a loss, and giving yourself some time and space to grieve will help. But don’t wait too long. In a challenging job market, it can take a while to get hired.
Next, you need to get practical and do your best to move forward. The quicker you get a job search up and running, the faster you’ll be thinking about your new job instead of the one you lost.
Here’s a step-by-step guide for how to handle losing your job.
File for unemployment.
If you lose your job through no fault of your own, you may be eligible for unemployment. Depending on the circumstances, you may be eligible even if you were fired. Here’s what you need to know about filing for unemployment.
Check on health insurance options.
Check with your manager or your Human Resources department on options for continuing health insurance coverage or investigate options for getting a new policy to cover you while you’re out of work. Check Healthcare.gov for information on signing up for a marketplace health plan.
Figure out what to do with your retirement plan.
What happens to your retirement plan varies on the type of plan you have. Here’s information on what happens to your pension plan and what happens to a 401(k) when you leave your job.
Work on a personal budget.
Your unemployment check is going to be less than your paycheck, so think about how you can save some money. It’s also going to last for a much shorter time because many states have cut back the number of weeks of unemployment they provide.
Create a job search plan.
It’s much easier to job search when you have a plan in place. You don’t need to use every resource that’s available. In fact, you’ll be overwhelmed if you try. Instead, start with a streamlined back-to-basics job search and start with the leading job sites. They might be all you need to get hired, and you can always expand your job search if you’re not moving forward as fast as you’d like.
Search for your name on Google to see what potential employers are going to view when they check you out. Make sure everything that comes up in the search results is appropriate. The “grandma rule” applies here. You don’t want hiring managers or recruiters to see anything that you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see.
Clean up your social media accounts.
Your social media pages are probably going to be on the list of what shows up when you search for yourself. Be sure that all your posts are fit for the public to see. If not, clean them up and adjust your privacy settings. On the flip side, it’s important to have a solid social presence for many jobs, so be sure you’re making the best impression.
Revamp your resume.
Before you start applying for jobs, take the time to update your resume. Your resume is going to be read by the applicant tracking systems (ATS) that employers use as well as by hiring managers. Be sure to include your most relevant skills and match your qualifications to the job. That will give you the best shot at getting selected for an interview.
Update your LinkedIn profile.
If you’re applying for professional positions, you’re going to be checked out on LinkedIn. Update your LinkedIn profile, making sure all the information matches what is on your resume. Here are simple steps for making a better LinkedIn profile.
Connect with your network.
This is a good time to connect with your network. Use LinkedIn, your college alumni network, and your professional and personal networks to help your job search. Ask your connections to let you know if they come across jobs that would be a good fit.
While you’re connecting with your network, consider who would be good to use for a reference. That’s especially important if you were fired. Line up a few references now, so they can expect a call when you start interviewing. Here’s who and how to ask for an employment reference.
Check job listings.
Now that you’ve got many of the pieces of the job search puzzle in place, start checking out job listings and applying for jobs. Use job search engines like Indeed.com to get job postings from many different online sources with just a few clicks.
Focus your job search.
Use the advanced search options to focus on job listings that are a match for your interests and skills, and in a location where you want to work. Don’t waste your time applying for jobs that aren’t a good fit. This is a competitive job market, and if you’re not qualified you aren’t going to be considered.
Write targeted cover letters.
Don’t skimp when it comes to your job applications. Your cover letters need to make a compelling case as to why you should be hired. Use your cover letters to show the reader, at a glance, why you are the best-qualified person for the job. Here are tips for writing a cover letter that will get read.
Find out what you’re worth.
You’re most likely going to be asked about salary when you interview. Your salary history is important, and so are your salary expectations. Do you have a minimum amount that you need to get by? What should be you be earning?
Use salary reports, like those offered by PayScale.com, so you don’t sell yourself short if an employer is looking to hire cheap. Be prepared to negotiate salary, so you can ensure what you agree to is fair.
Get an interview outfit (or two) ready.
Expect to have at least a couple of interviews for every job you apply for. Some may be on the phone or via video. Others will be on-site, so be prepared to dress appropriately for the job and company you’re interviewing with. Here’s how to choose an interview outfit that’s a good match, and what to wear for a Zoom interview.
The best way to prepare for an interview is to practice, practice again, and then practice some more. Review the most common interview questions employers ask, so you’re prepared to answer.
Check out these tips for how to prepare for a job interview so you make the best impression. Be prepared for a virtual interview—many employers are moving the hiring process online. Also be prepared to answer interview questions about why you left your job.
Tip: These free online interview practice tools will help you get ready to ace your interviews.
Say thank you and follow up.
Manners matter. In fact, they can make a difference in whether you get a second interview or even a job offer. Take the time to follow up and thank your interviewers. Here are sample thank you notes and email messages you can tailor to fit your own circumstances.
Don’t get discouraged.
You are probably not going hear back from more employers than you expected. Unfortunately, many companies don’t bother to notify applicants who weren’t selected. The interview process may be much longer than you anticipated.
You may be asked to interview three or four, or even more times, before a hiring decision is made. Expect this to take a while, and try not to feel down if you don’t get hired right away. It’s not you—the employer is looking for the candidate who is the best fit. It’s better, even though it may not feel that way, not to get hired than to have a job that doesn’t work out.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Finally, and most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Friends and family will be glad to assist, but they can’t if they don’t know that you need assistance.
Whether you need a loan, a ride, a babysitter, someone to proofread your job application materials, or an outfit to borrow to wear to an interview, don’t hesitate to ask.
Related Articles: How To Handle Getting Fired | Warning Signs That You Could Lose Your Job