Steps to Follow if You’re Out of a Job

These days it’s practically inevitable that you or someone you know will face a period of unemployment. Here are six practical tips every unemployed person should keep in mind while searching for a new job:

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Don’t take it personally. Losing a job can cause shame, humiliation, and embarrassment. You may feel depressed and lose your confidence. Yes, it’s a very stressful time, but don’t take it personally. Thousands and thousands of people have lost their jobs in this economy. Don’t hibernate, and be good to yourself. If you need it, seek emotional counseling. Let your friends and family be there for you. Remember, time heals everything. This too will pass.

Collect your benefits. You may have unemployment benefits, a lump-sum payout from your ex-employer, a severance package and options regarding health insurance.

Unemployment compensation protects workers against job loss by providing temporary income support to people who become unemployed through no fault of their own. Find out exactly what you qualify for and the limitations and rules regarding each benefit.

The U.S. Department of Labor website has a handy list of all unemployment offices in each state. Standing in line at the unemployment office is a thing of the past. States now allow you to apply online or over the telephone. Generally it takes two to three weeks from the time you file your claim to receive your first benefit check, so do not 

Negotiate. Don’t be too quick to pack your things and leave. Ask for help with finding a new job. Can you set up shop in a spare office for the next few weeks while you job-hunt? This gives you the use of phones, computers and other equipment. Be sure to ask for a letter of recommendation, too.

Hoard the cash. You may be tempted to pay off debt with your severance check or savings. Don’t do it. You don’t know how long it will be before you see our next paycheck. Those funds are precious, so make them last. While you’re unemployed, pay only the minimum payments required. If you’ve been prepaying your mortgage principal, pull back to only what’s required.

Put the breaks on spending. Money is going to be tight now. Go over your bills and set a budget. If it’s not essential, forget it. Tell your family how and why things will be changing for a while, and outline ways everyone can participate in this time of transition. Pull out every frugal tip, trick and idea you can think of. Think of this as an unexpected adventure, a season that will pass.

Figure out health insurance. Once you leave your job for any reason, you basically have four choices:

1. Continue on your current group plan by switching over to your employer’s COBRA plan and pay the premiums yourself (you have 60 days from termination to decide whether or not to accept the benefit).

2. Enroll in your spouse’s plan.

3. Buy individual insurance.

4. Apply for a state-sponsored Health Exchange plan.

Every state also has a low-cost health insurance plan for children. If you have kids under 18, find out if you’re eligible: Insure Kids Now! has a toll-free national number, 877-KIDS-NOW, which connects you with the program in your state.

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • MaryM

    Put the brakes on spending…

    • DianaB

      Like what, for instance? Groceries, house payment, auto payment, utilities….?

      • Komrad

        Non essential spending – if you don’t need it to survive, don’t buy it.

    • DianaB

      Oops, sorry. I see you were correcting a spelling error.

      • MaryM

        S’OK. i see your pointt, I do.

  • DianaB

    I wanted to comment on unemployment benefits. When I tried registering in Alabama several years back, my situation was that I had two small grandchildren to care for, had to have a day job to do that. One of the requirements for unemployment was that I had to be available to take any medical transcription job that was available 24 hours a day. Apparently everyone with children can find day care 24 hours a day in their estimation when there is no 24 hour day care choice and no family to do so other than myself. So, I never got any benefits. And if I did qualify, it was something along the lines of $138 a week. BTW, the employer who laid me off said he would not fight my unemployment.

    I was low man on the totem pole of 3 in our department. I was laid off due to that, even though my work experience and my work ethic and the amount of work I produced far exceeded that of #2 in the department. Seniority is always an issue.