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Unemployment is one of those things in life that comes at a time when we least expect it.
When it does, it strikes hard – hard enough to leave us clueless of what our next move will be.
Being unexpectedly relieved of your duties is a common cause of stress and depression. Unemployment is considered to be one of life’s harshest experiences.
Being at the top of your finances when you’re assured of a paycheck at the end of the month is one thing, but once you’re cut off from the source of your livelihood is another story altogether.
Burying your head in the sand to avoid the multitude of challenges that come along with being unemployed may be far too easy to do.
A few months back, I was relieved of my contract job at a time when I least expected it. That was the first time in my life that I was without a means to support my debt-ridden lifestyle. It felt as if my life was spiraling out of control and my finances went on the fritz.
If you’re newly unemployed, just as I was, there are a couple of things you can do to get your financial situation in order. The following is your ultimate survival guide to maintain your sanity and productivity in the midst of joblessness.
Hopefully, by the end of it all, you’ll come out of your unemployment blues with a renewed sense of resilience, strength, and purpose.
1. Spend Your Money Sensibly
This is one of the most significant downsides of being unemployed. The moment your predominant source of income is gone, you may need to cut down on most of your expenses drastically.
Considering you’re surviving on fixed funds, you may need to scrape off a few – sorry, a lot of non-essentials and unnecessary wants from your budget.
Every month, there are a number of inevitable bills you have to sort out, e.g., rent, electricity, food, etc. At the start of the month, take time to estimate how much you should allocate for each bill.
Food and lights may fluctuate from month to month, but rent is constant. Come up with a realistic range that caters for all your needs, but still be able to save something when you’ve done your totals.
The following are a few other helpful ways to save your money in the midst of unemployment:
- Cancel all unnecessary premium services and channels. Rent a movie with Netflix or Red Box.
- Switch off all unused appliances and use energy-efficient light bulbs.
- Avoid paying rent by living with your parents, siblings or friends, just until you get employed elsewhere.
- When driving, use little gas by driving slower.
- Seek cheaper car insurance. Online insurance services such as Esurance can save you money on your automobile.
- Save up change or seemingly worthless pennies. Upon accumulation, they can be of assistance in ways you never imagined.
- Impulse buying should be avoided at all costs. Never step into any store without a comprehensive list of what you’re supposed to buy.
A significant rule that applies across the board, regardless of the amount you have left, is to never go past the $100 mark towards groceries every month.
There are tons of free grocery-saving apps you can download to get the highest savings on all your grocery shopping.
2. Don’t Be Defined by Your Job Status
Of course, it may take a while before you fully take in your new job status. Though it may be a unique experience, don’t focus all your attention to it.
Taking hurtful experiences like being laid off from your job too personally will leave you feeling more depressed than you already are.
It’s worth noting that your employment status does not define you. What you do is not who you are. Never was; never will be. Only you get to decide who you are, not your employer’s decision to employ you or fire you.
Furthermore, don’t shut the door to future employment opportunities because of an entire company’s or a single person’s decision.
Marty Seligman, a famed psychologist, conducted research and concluded that the cognitive factor between people who succeed after difficulties of any kind and those who don’t is their level of interpretation.
Individuals who view their impromptu unemployment as an indication of failure or personal inadequacy are the least likely to seek out alternative jobs.
Their optimistic counterparts, on the other hand, view the slight inconvenience as an excellent opportunity to evolve in self-awareness, develop resilience and re-evaluate their priorities.
When one door shuts, another opens. Rather than considering how jobless you are, focus on the tons of opportunities that await you in future.
3. Dissociate Yourself With Negative Energy
People closest to you strongly impact how you view yourself, your predicament and what you do to make it better.
Choose your company carefully and steer clear from getting sucked into the vortex of gloom and uncertainty.
The time and energy you waste on endless pity parties could be easily channeled into dusting yourself from the hard unemployment fall and taking strides towards a better employment path.
Try as much as you can to be in the company of people who can relate to your situation and give you appropriate advice on how to strategize your next move.
As you adjust your social life, fill your mind with positivity through the books you read, stuff you watch on TV, and songs you listen to.
Whatever you take in, as long as it makes you feel happier and motivated, can act as a temporary distraction to keep ill feelings at bay. More than anyone, your family can be your best support group – an inner circle of sorts.
Let them in on your decision to look to greener pastures elsewhere and the fact that you’re more than ready to move on.
If they love you as much as they’re supposed to, they will be supportive of your intentions and help you work your way towards getting a new job.
4. Keep Your Mind Fixed on a Brighter Future
At this point in your life, it’s rather easy to forget the huge bombshell that just landed on you.
Here’s where you become engulfed in ‘coulda-shoulda-woulda’ kind of thoughts that end up igniting feelings of rage, self-pity and a tinge of vulnerability.
Letting your guard down will only make you susceptible to any job that comes your way.
The only solution to your highly-stressed mind is to stay focused on what the future holds for you.
While you do that, be mindful on how you budget your emergency fund money (assuming you already have one), and think about how ready you are to get employed elsewhere and what you have to do to set yourself up.
Stick close to people around you who have a myriad of connections. Depending on how solid your resume is, you can easily get employed elsewhere upon recommendation.
Being focused on what the future holds for you will give you that much-needed sense of positivity that your situation may change any second, minute or day from today.
Don’t allow thoughts of negativity to take root in your life.
Live every day as it comes and always have your eyes fixed on what tomorrow holds.
5. Be Wise and Make Money from Home
Who said you couldn’t be your boss? Well, that person is wrong and uninformed. You’re newly unemployed; tough luck.
But, in one way or another, you must take care of your family (if you have one) and pay for all your bills. You can’t do that with your hands on your head all the time.
Rather than resorting to unethical means of getting your daily bread, here are a few legitimate ways you can make money online:
- Take part in internet surveys. Sites like Survey Junkie, Swagbucks and Vindale Research pay some good bucks in exchange for your opinion.
- If you have special skills you’d like to sell to potential online clients, sign up on Elance, Upwork, Craigslist, and a host of other freelancing sites.
- Create a blog based on a topic you’re thoroughly acquainted with.
- Venture into affiliate marketing on well-known programs such as Amazon Affiliates.
- If you’re better at doing online tasks better than others, e.g. scheduling blogs and updating social media, data entry, etc., become a virtual assistant on Upwork.
- Love taking photos? Make a fortune selling some of your best photos on iStockPhoto.com.
- If you love to make gorgeous pieces of artwork at your own free time, put them up for sale on Etsy.
There are a number of ways to make a few extra bucks online than anywhere else. For most of these, you don’t have to have a specific qualification to get paid.
Despite the harsh circumstances, keep your head financially afloat by trying your hand at full-time/part-time online jobs. While you send your applications to various companies, you need to be doing something to get by.
6. Take Care of Your Physical, Mental and Emotional Being
Most people consider being laid off as something they can’t easily get back from. The solution? Wallow in self-pity with a remote in one hand and a drink on the other.
Though different people have different ways of dealing with grief, most people do it in ways that show that they’re tired of living.
Sure, being newly unemployed is a huge blow, but how you let your body react to this matters a great deal.
As difficult as it may be, impart in yourself some physical resilience. Your level of physical strength will further determine your emotional and mental resilience.
Physical resilience, in this case, involves getting up from your cocoon of negative-thinking and putting that body to work. Do whatever it takes to keep your body fit and healthy. If you weren’t working out when you were employed, now’s the perfect opportunity for you.
Engage your body in different forms of physical activity (go for a run, get outdoors, do some gardening) that will motivate you to become proactive in getting new employment elsewhere. Generally, do stuff that lifts your spirits.
Studies reveal that prioritizing self-care often builds resilience, thereby making you immune to fear, anxiety and, stress.
7. Make Job-Hunting Your Makeshift Job
If the news of your unemployment hit you too hard and it’s still fresh in your mind, take a day or two or a couple of weeks to get your emotions in check.
Taking too long to get back to your familiar routine may make you unwilling ever to get back to work.
From the moment you wake up to the time you lay your head to rest at night, your mind should be fixed on what you can do to get employed elsewhere. Here are a few activities you should be engaging in during your hunt for a new source of income:
Update Your LinkedIn Profile
If LinkedIn wasn’t all that important during your employment days, you should now consider it your most valuable job-search tools. Instant connections to potential employers are just a keystroke away.
Do Some Personal Branding and Introspection
Being able to articulate your value proposition to a would-be employer can only be achieved by personal branding.
To do this, you have to understand your attributes, such as what your passions are, the kind of people you work with best, when you’re most authentic at work, etc.
Review the Best Methods of Networking
Depending on your previous job, discover the kinds of associations or groups you belong to and figure out those you should join.
If there’s someone you know that can help you out in your search, reach out to them via phone, email or LinkedIn. It’s even better if you find a group of people with a common goal.
From here, you can form a long-term networking partnership that may be beneficial to either one or all of you.
Do Your Research
Once you’ve compiled a list of companies you would like to work with or people you would like to work for, find out all you can think about them.
Find out important factors such as how fast they’re growing, the kind of employees they hire, whether or not they’re looking to have fresh recruits on board right now.
After a month or so of getting rid of the hurt and disappointment, finding your next job should be your primary goal. Utilize the valuable time you’ve been given, albeit forcefully, to draft your value proposition.
8. Look into Filing for Unemployment
Individuals who unexpectedly lost their job without any justifiable reason from their employers and worked for hours on end qualify for unemployment benefits. Filing for unemployment may vary depending on your state of residence.
Considering you’re newly unemployed, you may be somewhat unsure or even intimidated by the whole process. It’s relatively straightforward, so there’s nothing to be worried about. Here are steps to take when you want to file for unemployment:
- Depending on your state requirements, determine how eligible you are to receive unemployment benefits.
- File online or by phone to make the process easier. Ensure you have vital data such as the exact date you were hired and when you were given the boot. You’ll also be asked to present your address, Social Security number, and two year’s work history.
- If your claim happens to be rejected for unknown reasons, there’s a way you can appeal the decision. The entire process, again, varies from one state to another.
- As for how much you’ll receive, your previous salary and a list of other factors will be strong determinants. On average, however, expect to receive fifty to seventy-five percent of your initial income.
- Once you get paid, most states require that you actively engage in pursuing alternative jobs. Once every few weeks, you may need to give a report – backed up by proof – of the number of jobs you applied for and the number of interviews you attended.
- Finally, you’ll be required to pay your taxes. Unemployment benefits are still considered income, therefore making them taxable by the federal government.
For the first time in April 2012, a little over 400,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits.
While the benefits may be relatively less than your initial salary, it may still be of use to you in your efforts to get another job.
9. Think Long and Hard About Your Desired Career Path
Being unemployed comes along with its fair share of challenges, but it also gives you an abundance of time; time to reflect on a lot of things, including your career path.
Most times it takes a lot to make a major leap from your preferred career to a different one – one that you’d never think of taking – all because it pays higher.
The flip-side of unemployment is that it compels you to re-think your career path and make those tough decisions that need to be made before you regret it in your next job.
Do you enjoy working in a role you enjoy or are you doing it because you have to?
Take time to think about what you want from different career options. Be honest and open with yourself. Did you enjoy your previous career path? If you could pick a different job or industry, what would it be?
What you want to do is to ensure that as you close the chapter on one career path, you enter into another that sits well with your passion. Working without passion is only putting yourself in an unsatisfactory position that you may later on come to regret.
Sure, you need a job, but settle for one that you’re happy to thrust all your focus and energy into. Here’s where you may need to book a sit-down with a career counselor.
If you’re not sure of the direction you need to take career-wise, talking to a professional will definitely help.
10. Make Some Minor (or Major) Tweaks to Your Social Media Profiles & Resume
Of course, during your temporary stay at home, you’ll need to make a few adjustments to your paperwork.
When you’re working, updating your resume isn’t as easy as most people think it is. When you’re newly unemployed, you can sort out your out-of-date resume at a time of your choosing.
Begin by including the place or company where you were fired from, how far you’ve reached in your studies and of course, how old you are.
Give a quick and clean polish to your resume’s design and ensure it’s thoroughly proofread.
Aside from your resume, your social media profiles are also put into close consideration in the hiring process.
Research shows that approximately 174 companies from the Fortune 500 prefer to use Twitter in the recruitment process.
Therefore, before embarking on any other document, file or any other vital employment determinant, ensure your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts are entirely sorted out.
nsure you emphasize on relevant keywords that relate to your work experience and what you wish to do in future. Why is this even necessary?
Employers can fish out the right people on LinkedIn for the positions they need to be filled by using specific keywords.
Realize the value of SEO keyword research and know that different keywords are used on various social media platforms.
Get Up, Dust Yourself, and Move On
When life gives you lemons, as the saying goes, make a cool, refreshing cup of lemonade.
The tips provided on this post are for you and anyone else closest to you who are trying to deal with the fact that they’ve been fired abruptly.
There’s nothing more heartbreaking than losing your job for no known reason. I’ve gone through it and have a first-hand experience of how depressing and overwhelming it is.
However, for the sake of your well-being and those around you, don’t engulf yourself in feelings of anxiety, relief, anger, disappointment, self-pity or frustration.
I know it’s easier said done, but focus on this particular setback from an elevated perspective. You’ll realize that life’s success is not measured by the opportunities that come our way.
Rather, it’s by how we tackle the challenges and setbacks that come our way.