Have you recently become unemployed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the economy?
If so, we’re going to share a handful of steps you can take to make this setback a bit less challenging. We’ve broken this article up into three sections: steps you should take for your mental health, steps to take financially, and steps to take when you’re ready to get on the job hunt.
We’ll begin by sharing a few ways you can stay mentally healthy during this difficult time.
Steps to Take for Your Mental Health
Losing a job unexpectedly is a very emotional experience; while you shouldn’t feel down longer than you have to, it’s a natural (and healthy) part of the grieving process. When we lose something we care about, it’s common to go through feelings of anxiety, sadness, and anger.
Allow yourself some time to cope with these feelings before jumping into your next job search. By taking the time to process your emotions, you’ll be ready to put everything you have into finding your next position.
Search for silver linings
It’s not going to be easy to do in the moment, and that’s completely understandable – but try your best to find a silver lining to everything you’ve gone through. Maybe you’ve been thinking about a career switch but were too comfortable in your last role, or you wanted to prioritize family time, but work always got in the way.
Now is a good time to consider how you want your life to look moving forward – why not take a crack at finding a job in an industry you love, or a position with more flexibility so you can spend time with your family?
Here’s a quote you may find powerful during this time:
“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell
This is an opportunity for you to open new doors and reimagine the life you can build for yourself. Learn from the past, but don’t harp on it – and remember, you’ve got this.
Make a list of the things you have to be grateful for
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it can be a good idea to jot down a list of all the things that are positive in your life. Losing a job unexpectedly can truly turn your world upside down, but that doesn’t mean you have nothing to be grateful for.
If you have your health, a family that cares about you and/or a family of your own, and friends that support you, you have a number of things to be thankful for. Whenever negative feelings start coming around, try your best to keep this list at the top of your mind.
Find new ways to structure your day
People generally organize their lives around the stability and structure their jobs provide them with. When you’re faced with unexpected unemployment, it can feel like that structure has all but disappeared. To stay productive and mentally healthy, you’ll have to find new ways to arrange your day.
Here are a few tips and ideas to help you accomplish just that:
- Begin your day with your regular routine: brush your teeth, take a shower, change into a set of fresh clothes, and make your bed. Even simple habits like these give us a sense of accomplishment.
- Start a new exercise regimen: A healthy body leads to a healthy mind, and there’s no better way to build self-confidence and uplift your spirits than working up a good sweat. So, go for a bike ride, jog around your neighborhood, or hike that trail you’ve always wanted to explore.
- Get back to old hobbies or find a new one: Hobbies don’t have to be expensive – in fact, a decent number of them are completely free. Writing, reading, drawing, photography, learning a foreign language, or how to be a better cook… the list goes on. Find something that interests you and spend some time getting better at it!
- Spend quality time with your family: If you have young ones around, there’s a good chance they’re currently attending school online. Ask them if they need assistance with any schoolwork or could use some help understanding a tough assignment. You could also plan a family game night where everyone gathers to play a few board games. It’s the little things like this that can make unexpected unemployment easier to handle.
- Look for new opportunities: Whenever you feel ready, spend a few hours a day looking for new jobs, networking with others, and improving your resume. Getting back on the hunt could lessen the feelings of stress you may be going through.
Steps to Take Financially
Review your finances
When you lose your job unexpectedly, the first thing you should do is review your finances. More specifically, you need to create a game plan. You can find a detailed list of steps to take in our article “How to Handle Bills in an Emergency”, so we’ll give you the highlights here:
- If you have savings, determine how long they’ll support you
- Make a list of all bills you’re responsible for paying each month
- Find ways to reduce expenses and/or make money on the side
- Identify possible resources you can reach out to for support (if need be)
- Create a budget to help you manage money more wisely
Create a new budget
Budgeting is crucial when you find yourself in a position without any income. Once again, we have a tremendous article already written called “How to Create a Monthly Budget” that covers this topic in detail, so we’ll cover the basics here. This piece will not only teach you how to create a budget, but more importantly, how to stick to it and manage it effectively.
There are four steps you’ll have to take while creating your first budget, and they are as follows:
- Understand your household income
- This can include any unemployment benefits you’re receiving, as well as the income your partner is bringing in (if you have one)
- List out your financial priorities into needs and wants
- Needs: rent/mortgage, utilities, insurance, transportation, groceries, loan payments
- Wants: eating out, shopping, entertainment
- Create budget categories
- Assign each of these categories a spending limit. If you’ve recently become unemployed, you’ll want to dedicate all of your money towards your needs and save the remainder. Wants (besides inexpensive/free hobbies) should go on the back burner until you rejoin the workforce.
- Decide how to track your budget
- If you prefer tracking your spending manually, pen and paper or an excel sheet is the way to go. For the tech-oriented there’s a number of apps available – find a detailed list in the article linked above.
Check if you’re eligible for government unemployment benefits
According to CareerOneStop.com, in March of 2020 new federal law greatly expanded unemployment insurance. Even if you weren’t eligible for the benefits before, you may be now – so be sure to check.
You may be eligible if:
- your employer laid you off due to coronavirus measures
- you’re quarantined and can’t work due to the virus
- you’re self-employed and have lost income due to coronavirus measures
Every state has different policies for unemployment benefits, but if you think you could be eligible, take some time to apply now. If everything works out, you could make this entire experience a tad bit easier for yourself.
To learn how to apply for unemployment benefits in your state, follow this link to the Unemployment Help section of the United States government website.
Steps to Take While Hunting for a New Job
Reach out to your network and continue to build connections
LinkedIn will be your best friend during this rough patch, so you should consider creating an account if you don’t have one already. With that said, any social media could be useful for you to find new opportunities.
Over the past weeks, we’ve seen a number of people explaining their unemployment situations on LinkedIn and other forms of social media – and the results are often exciting. Many have been offered new jobs by reaching out to their network and building new connections.
Why not give it a shot? You’ll never know if you never try.
Update your resume and cover letter, spruce up your skills
Once you feel prepared to start taking steps back into the workforce, the time you have on your hands should be spent updating your resume and improving your skills. Make yourself a competitive candidate by learning the skills employers in your space are looking for.
You may be concerned that your job loss will impact your chances as a potential candidate, but keep in mind that you’re in the same boat as 36 million other Americans. Employers understand that many workers were laid off through no fault of their own and will likely be more forgiving towards job losses than they were in the past.
As long as you show that you’ve been productive during your time of unemployment and are clearly motivated to find new opportunities, your job loss will not reflect poorly on you. Keep your chin up and continue sharpening your skills – everything will work out.
Reevaluate your career choice
We touched on this in the beginning of the article, but keep this in mind – you now have an opportunity to make a fresh start career-wise. If there’s an industry you’ve always wanted to break into, now is the time to see what’s out there.
For stability’s sake, it’s a smart idea to continue developing skills related to the industry of your last job – but keep your eyes and ears open. You never know what your life could look like 5, 10, or 15 years down the road if you were to make a switch.
We hope this article has provided some helpful steps for you to take if you’ve recently become unemployed. One thing is certain – you will make it through this. We’re wishing you the best of luck.