Moving from the certainty of financial security to the uncertain state of financial crisis when you lose or leave a job is disconcerting. Yet the irony is, this is the most crucial phase when you need to be physically and mentally fit.
When faced with sudden unemployment how you take it depends a lot on where you live, how secure you are financially and how long can you hold out. If you have worked for a few years and built up savings and can hold out for a few months, you can start looking for jobs without much stress. On the other hand, if you have just started your career and were fired and you do not have much savings, you need to do a lot of planning.
Tackle your finances first
- If you live in a country where you can get unemployment benefit, file for unemployment immediately. Ensure you fulfill the requirements of your state, understand the documentation procedure and get your papers ready before you file. This is a cumbersome process, but you are likely to get at least half your last pay if you are actively looking for another job.
- Take stock of your savings; look for other sources of income such as picking up freelancing or contracting jobs and also looking for part-time casual jobs to keep you afloat while you try for jobs.
- Budgeting becomes very important. Keep your expenses to the barest minimum to meet your basic needs and cut back on expenditure that is avoidable. Work out means of cutting down on recurring expenses such as mobile bills, energy bills, mortgage, cable TV, etc.
- In many countries, when a job is lost, health insurance is lost too. Look for subsidized health care insurance coverage or temporary health insurance.
Work out smart job-hunting strategies
Job-hunting is your new job now. You need to plan a smart strategy to get yourself a good job and at the same time keep yourself busy and your mind engaged in worthwhile enterprises!
- The most important and the first step in your job search is to set a schedule every day. This will give you a sense of purpose. Set a workspace and specific time every day to devote to job applications. Setting apart specific timings for your job search will prevent you from obsessing over applying for jobs and give you the bandwidth to concentrate on normal day-to-day activities.
- If you have calls or interviews, try to squeeze these into your daily scheme of things. It is ideal to schedule all your activities for the day.
- Networking is the way to go. Given that we live in a world where innumerable resumes are submitted for one position, it is the personal connection that gets you in front of the Hiring Manager.
- Set aside some time every day for exercise. This is a must to keep you fit. Meditation is a great way to keep your mind relaxed, confident and focused on your job-search.
- Engage in some relaxing activity such as listening to music, dancing, reading and chatting with family and friends every day.
- Your job search must be systematic, precise and effective. Start a journal and a folder in your computer and make a note of all the jobs you’ve applied for. Keep detailed records of your job searches so that you have a clear idea of which positions you have applied for, which companies, when, what the outcome was, how many retries you’ve made, etc.
- Assess the best places to find job advertisements and connections. Job websites and ads in local newspapers are a good place to start.
- Ensure your presence on sites such as LinkedIn and connect with people who might be useful leads. Online networking has helped many get job interviews. Post articles on your area of interest, participate in discussions and try to find posts looking for people like you.
- Online presence and visibility are very important. Having a personal website is a good idea. Amend your personal website and your pages in sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. mentioning that you are looking for a job.
- Keep yourself abreast of the latest developments in your field. It might be useful during interviews.
- Prepare notes and questions for prospective interviews and keep ready job-related information as well as your performance and responsibilities in your previous jobs.
- Redo your resume and update it with your latest skillsets and knowledge. It is a good idea to tailor-make your resume to suit job requirements. Hence you may need to make different resumes for different jobs and save it in a separate folder for each job applied for.
- Prepare your cover letter carefully. It should be brief but powerful enough to engage the attention of the recruiter. Get the help of a friend or a person adept in recruiting to prepare your cover letter and resume. You can also get the help of guidebooks and sites that facilitate this process.
- You need to keep a log of every resume you send, every person you speak with, every job you have applied for and follow up regularly.
- You may think of developing your skillsets. For example, you may take free classes in your university or go for free online courses or take up apprenticeship with an expert such that you can even earn some money and simultaneously improve skills related to your job requirements.
- Take up a social cause or volunteering a couple of days a week as it will add brownie points to your resume, keep you engaged in a good cause and also keep you in touch with others who need help.
- Consider alternatives such as starting your own website for a social cause, entrepreneurship, partnership with a friend, your own little boutique enterprise. With a lot of research, discussions with those in business, a little help and arduous toil you may end up being the one giving jobs instead of being a job seeker.
- Take up freelance assignments that will not only fetch you some income but also hone your skills.
Alter your mindset
Unemployment is stressful and the uncertainty of how long it can continue takes a heavy toll on your mind. Moreover, the state of mind of unemployed persons may not be understood by society, which tends to judge them unfairly. To survive unemployment, you need to keep up your spirits, nourish your sense of self-worth and continuously motivate yourself against all odds.
- It is important to accept the fact that you have been asked to go or you were constrained to leave and that unemployment is now the reality. There is no point revisiting the past and inflicting more pain on yourself or blaming yourself for whatever happened, or even blaming others.
- Don’t ever rant or post any remarks about your former employers however wrong they might have been. It would only chase away other prospective employers.
- Talk to people who are close to you and accept any help that is forthcoming from your family or friends. You need it.
- Soon after you are out of job, treat yourself to some relaxing time to help your mind cope with the new and challenging situation.
- Understand that it is not easy being unemployed. Your mood will be on a roller-coaster ride. You may want to give it all up one day; yet another day you would get up with a fierce determination to plod ahead. Don’t be upset when you see a rejection email. It is a common occurrence for many job seekers. During such times, take a break and indulge in your hobbies or do something you enjoy.
- You also have other roles to play, so be committed to executing your responsibilities as a wife, mother, husband, father, etc. Unemployment does not define who you are.
- This is also the time to give some serious thought to what you want to do in life, reassess the direction in which you are moving and introspect on whether it is a job that you want or other goals you want to achieve.
- This is the time for self-development. Apart from pursuing exercise regularly, take up meditation and yoga, go for self-improvement classes or look online for self-help practices. Develop the habit of thinking positively, spend time with people you love and who care for you, read inspiring books and groom yourself to look your best.
- Travel to places you have not visited before and if money is a constraint, work out a shoestring budget to see new places.
- Follow creative pursuits. Even cooking can be creative. Or take up music or dance, write or try to join a theatre group.
- Get out, socialize. Not getting out and socializing makes unemployment miserable. At the end of the day, it is people who matter in life.