Saturday, August 6, 2016

Unexpected Job Loss: 10 Tips

I headed over to my friend's shop a few days ago and found it odd that no one was there.  The place is usually pretty busy with nearly a dozen employees, many customers, and people just hanging out but that day everything was locked up (doors, service bays) and it was quiet.  I thought it odd but figured maybe there was some sort of emergency or something.  Today I dropped by again and the windows had been boarded up and a "sealed by eviction court" sticker was across the doors.  Uh oh.

Obviously this came as a shock to me (we aren't close friends but I would drop by once a month or so to shoot the breeze and talk business) and I am guessing it came as a shock to the employees as well (unfortunately).  Hopefully everything will get straightened out but this situation only reinforces the need for everyone to be prepared for an unexpected job loss.  Here's how:

  1. Your very first task after you read this should be to put together an emergency fund of six to nine month's worth of expenses.  Obviously this isn't a quick or easy activity but it could be the difference between mild discomfort if you show up at work and the doors are padlocked shut and homelessness.
  2. Always have a few side hustles going.  Multiple streams of income will make you feel a whole lot better--and much more financially stable--should one of your streams of income suddenly dry up.
  3. Be an exceptional worker/employee.  People notice those who go above and beyond at their jobs (plus have a good attitude and good work habits).  This way if you need to find a new job, people will be more likely to recommend you for employment opportunities that they know of.
  4. Pay attention at work.  This situation at the shop probably didn't come as a surprise to the employees if they were paying attention.  Calls by creditors, late paychecks, not stocking as much inventory as usual...there are many red flags when businesses are running out of money.
  5. If you find yourself suddenly unemployed, sign up for unemployment benefits immediately.  This will get the process started and insure you have some sort of income coming in.
  6. Sort out pressing job-related issues including what will happen with your health insurance, pension, 401k, if you qualify for any sort of severance, etc.
  7. Take a week off to chill and regain your equilibrium.  Obviously such a shocking event will make you run through the gamut of emotions.  Let them all settle before going out to find another job.  Running around in a panic is not a good idea (your desperation will be apparent to possible employers) so settle first then look for work.
  8. Cut your expenses immediately.  If you suddenly don't have a big income coming in, don't live like you do.  While you should always live below your means, there are probably some things you can cut immediately to save money (change cell phone plans, cut cable, don't eat out, etc).
  9. Create a daily schedule even if you don't have the structure of a regular job.  Get up at the same time every day, exercise each morning, spend a few hours on work-related activities (updating your resume, applying for jobs, networking, etc), volunteer somewhere, etc.
  10. Determine what you want to do with your future.  Maybe you don't want to go back to the same sort of work, in that case look at job retraining opportunities, go back to grad school, or take a year off and travel.

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