What would you do if you lost your job today?

When you find yourself unemployed, it can be terrifying.  Thoughts of money, insurance and others’ judgments begin swirling in your mind.  Anxiety may set in just thinking about all that comes with searching for a new job. Navigating unemployment is no easy task, but it is possible.

People do it all the time and oftentimes gain an even better opportunity than they had before.  If you find yourself unemployed, here are a few activities that are a must to get back on your feet and into the workplace.

Acknowledge what happened, address your feelings and then move on.

Losing your job is never easy. Whether you quit due to poor workplace conditions, layoffs, or you were fired, each reason comes with its own set of emotional challenges.

As you search for a new job, don’t let your former raw emotions linger. It’s healthy to get your feelings in check by acknowledging what happened with your last position. Accept the situation for what it is, acknowledge anything you’ve learned and then embrace the good your future has to offer.

Address your emotions, whether you feel anger, sadness, or even elation. Joy may be a result of leaving a job you hated and this could be coupled with fear for your finances and mental health.

Take time to understand what each emotion is connected to and reflect on the positive and negative parts of your last job so you will have some reference points to stick to as you begin the search again.

Using this tactic, you can help yourself apply for only those jobs you can physically and mentally handle.  If you lost time with your family as a result of working third shift in your last job, you can now make it a point to avoid jobs with this schedule.

By fully reflecting on the experience and your feelings, you can now put it all into perspective and from there simply move on.  

File for unemployment.

Having some financial stability while searching for another job is important.

Luckily, there is a federal system in place for just such a situation. Although unemployment does not entirely replace your previous income, it can ensure you have money to pay rent or put food on the table while you find another job.  This emergency income can help alleviate a ton of stress during the process of searching for a job, waiting to hear back from an interview or even waiting on your first paycheck after being newly hired.

It’s no secret that assistance programs can have a little bit of a wait time. This is why it’s imperative that you apply for unemployment as soon as possible after losing your job so the paperwork has time to be filed and completed before too many bills pile up.

While it can feel embarrassing to have to rely on systems like unemployment, in situations like these, it is often better to have the support and not need it rather than need it and not have it.   

Build a budget.

Next on the to-do list: assess your financial situation and create a budget for yourself.  

First, start with all the essential items such as utilities or ongoing medical expenses.

After these costs are assessed move onto negotiable items such as entertainment or eating out, and try to curb spending in areas such as groceries and transportation. Also, consider cutting any non-essentials until you are employed again.  Items that may be beneficial to do away with at this time can include TV subscription services, gym memberships or magazine subscriptions. While these items may be minimal cost at an individual level, they can add up quickly and are always available to resubscribe once you are financially able.  

Reigning in your spending can mean the difference between getting the job you want at this stage and the job you need. The longer you are able to stretch your budget, the longer you have to search for a job that suits your skills and desires rather than settling for a position that pays the piling bills.  

Job searches can take weeks or months. This is why it is essential to make and stick to a budget.

Check on health insurance options.

Being unemployed is scary enough, but additionally being vulnerable without medical insurance can put some people over the edge.  Luckily, there are a few options available should you lose your employer-based health insurance.

This step is important as you want to be safe and covered on the off chance that something does happen while you are searching for a new position.

      • If your partner is employed, it is a good idea to be covered under their insurance until you are employed again.  
      • You can sign up for national health insurance programs such as Medicaid or Medicare depending on your age and eligibility. This ensures you and your family are covered until another option becomes available. Likewise, this option can have you covered quickly if you have pre-existing conditions that require immediate coverage.  
      • You can sign up with a private company for coverage with affordable short-term plans or high-deductible plans that can fit your budget while job searching.

Begin the new job search

Now that you have your finances, health and emotions in order, it is time to hop back into the saddle.

Don’t dilly-dally by moping about the situation. Instead, repair the damage by moving forward to your next opportunity.  

One important thing to remember is that finding a job requires time, energy and resources. Adopt the mindset that your job hunt is your new full-time job. Spend as much time and energy as you can searching for positions that match your experience and expertise.  

By delving head-on into the job hunt, you can also stretch your resources (i.e.–gas, resume printing, interview attire, etc.). It’s helpful when you can drive across town one time for two interviews rather than taking two separate trips.

Now is an opportune time to connect with your local staffing agency or professional recruiter. They can assist you in finding jobs that fit perfectly with your experience. Staffing services may have jobs available that are not publicly advertised on job boards.  Using these resources can help you find an abundance of jobs to move forward with.

Be realistic in your search

There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to your new job search.  This process may take quite a while and can have a number of factors that affect your immediate success. Jobs, while in abundance due to the low unemployment rate, can be hard to come by depending on:

      • The current state of the economy, both nationally and locally, can have an effect on potential job openings.
      • Your flexibility to move or travel for work can affect what jobs you find available as there may not be many jobs available in your immediate area.
      • Your skillset and career aspirations have an influence as well. Not every city is in need of multiple librarians or bank managers. If one of these low-demand positions this is your career of choice, you may need to widen your search radius.

Prepare for the interview process.

Revamp your resume, update your interview attire, and practice answering common interview questions.  Now that you are on the hunt for a new job, it is important to prepare for the steps that come with the interview process.

You may also want to tidy up your social media presence so you can look as desirable as possible to potential employers – especially those who you find online or even through social media sites such as Facebook or Linkedin.  

Also, be sure to make your references aware of your search for a new job, and let them know they may receive calls from potential employers.  By giving them a heads-up, they have time to collect their thoughts on what they would like to share about you.

Having a reference who is prepared to speak on your behalf can make a big difference in your employment search.

Make others aware of your situation.

It is never a fun topic to discuss, but it is important that you make others aware of your unemployment status. This is beneficial for a number of reasons.

First, if you discuss being unemployed with family and friends, they will likely be more understanding of why you may pass on social events, gift giving or new lifestyle choices.

By making them aware, you have now put a bug in their ear to be on the lookout for potential jobs. Essentially, a free team of job hunters who can sniff out potential leads for you.

In updating them, however, you should always focus on the future rather than ruminating on the past. Being negative and caught up on what happened doesn’t help your cause or inform them of your skillset or positions you are looking for.  

Be sure to let this network know your skills, what aspects you miss about your job, or even potential career markets you would be interested in. This will help them better identify jobs that would best match your expertise. Finally, you may be surprised to learn about others who have been in your shoes before.  Their experience and advice may be helpful or cathartic in relation to your situation.

Expand your knowledge.

Whether you have some extra money available for formal training classes, or you want to sign up for a free class online, now is a fantastic time to expand your knowledge.  

While you are away from work, this becomes the opportune time to learn a new skill, especially one that compliments your current expertise. With the prevalence of the internet and smartphones, there is an abundance of apps and sites that teach computer coding, accounting, or a new language. These same sites and apps can offer informal training on technical skills like construction, auto repair or even agriculture.  

Expanding your knowledge is never detrimental to your resume and can often make you a more desirable employee given your extensive knowledge. This is especially true for older individuals trying to rejoin the workforce.

By updating your knowledge or learning a new skill you are bringing not only this new intelligence to the table but your many years of prior experience as well.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

At a certain point, you may feel stuck in your search. You’ve applied at many companies and maybe even had a few interviews, but you still haven’t found the job you are looking for.

As we’ve already discussed, being jobless can feel embarrassing and shameful, but if you’re having a hard time finding a new position, now is not the time to hide. Take networking seriously and talk about your openness to new opportunities. Find local meetups and participate. Random encounters can lead to new opportunities. Develop an elevator pitch to discuss what you bring to the table. Don’t be afraid to modestly brag about your skills.

If you’re struggling to get any traction when you apply, it may be time to reconsider using a recruiting company. Recruiters have direct relationships with companies. Utilizing a recruiter’s more direct connection may be the extra boost you needed to get your foot in the door and wow your new employer at the interview.

Don’t get discouraged.

Job searches are tedious, lengthy and much of the time is spent waiting on an answer from potential employers. All of these factors coupled with the stress of finances or others’ judgments can make you discouraged and despondent very quickly.  

It is important to find inspiration and encouragement during this time so you won’t lose steam in your search. This can include watching career success discussions on Youtube, speaking with a recruiter or even reading self-help books.  

All these can help you see the light at the end of the tunnel as well as glean insightful advice to take into your next career. Another simple method to find encouragement is looking at what you have already accomplished.  Keeping track of how many interviews you have had, additional training you may have completed or networking connections you have made.

These can help you not only stay encouraged but also realize the positive outcomes that this process has built.

Losing a job is painful, tough and challenging.  However, there is often much to be gained from the experience. This includes a new career and personal growth. It takes strength, perseverance and fortitude to navigate this difficult situation. And ultimately, tough experiences make us better as long as we persevere through the hard times. To come out on the other side proves you have these commendable skills.