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  • Beth Sanders

I Lost My Job. Now What?

On Wednesday, May 13, 2020, I lost my job as a Marketing Analyst.

Due to the downturn in the economy and in the energy sector here in Wyoming, my company laid off 13% of its workforce and I was caught up in that cut. Talk about traumatic and devastating.

I took a day to regroup and then hit the virtual pavement hard to begin the arduous task of looking for a new job. I'll be honest, it's never fun looking for a new job, but going hungry or broke was a great motivator.

Bad news: I'd been in this position once or twice before. Good news: I am a not-so-slight digital packrat and all those files I'd collected in previous job searches came in handy over the next few months. It took a little longer than I would've liked, but I was eventually successful in finding a job. I now work from home in a virtual position and couldn't be happier.

I thought I'd share what I've learned in the hopes of helping someone who's either not sure where to start or is stuck and needs a little direction. I've compiled the following list, but encourage others to please share information they've found beneficial in the comments below.

Here are 10 things to do if you've lost your job:

  1. File for Unemployment.

  2. Investigate health insurance options.

  3. Reevaluate your budget.

  4. Update your resume.

  5. Update your LinkedIn profile and other social media accounts.

  6. Find out what resources are available in your area.

  7. Apply for jobs.

  8. Invest in personal development.

  9. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

  10. Don't get discouraged!

File for Unemployment

If you lost your job through no fault of your own, you should be eligible for unemployment. Check out your state's Department of Workforce Services (Department of Labor in some states) website for the steps involved in filing for UI benefits. I recommend doing this as soon as possible because it can take time for the benefits to kick in. In my case, it took between 21 and 28 days.

Investigate Health Insurance Options

Talk to your former employer to find out if a COBRA plan is right for you. An alternative could be a personal policy through sites such as Change in employment status can be a qualifying event to getting a personal policy outside of open enrollment, but keep in mind there is usually a time limit. The important thing is to explore your options.

Reevaluate Your Budget

calculator, pen and financial documents

Are there expenses that can be cut? Do that immediately. If you don't have one already, create a budget. Not sure where to start? I recommend checking out Dave Ramsey. His website is full of practical and helpful information. Keep in mind, your unemployment check is probably going to be less than your previous income. Cutting expenditures is going to be essential.

Update Your Resume

Having an updated, relevant resume is vital to a successful job search. The best advice I've received and used successfully myself, is to tailor each resume to the requirements of the particular job you are applying for. It may seem like a lot of work, but it greatly increases your chances of landing the job. Try searching online for resume examples and/or templates to get ideas. If you're still stuck, try looking for books at your local library for inspiration. As basic as it may seem, Resumes for Dummies was a huge help to me.

Update Your LinkedIn Profile and Other Social Media Accounts

Clean up your LinkedIn profile, if needed, and make sure the information matches what you've shared on your resume. Change your settings to "open to new opportunities." Here's a great article from Career Tool Belt about optimizing your LinkedIn profile.

Now is the time to also check your other social media accounts and adjust any privacy settings, if necessary. While you may love to reminisce over those Spring Break 2010 photos, taken in Cancun, a potential employer might not be too impressed.

Find Out What Resources are Available in Your Area

Check to see if your area has a Workforce Center (or its equivalent), through the Department of Workforce Services. Chances are they do. My local center provides services like career planning tools, job market information, resume assistance, training classes, tutorial programs, and job fairs, among others. Many also provide office support services like telephones, fax machines, computers and printers, and more.

If you are facing food insecurity, check out Feeding America, a hunger relief organization that runs a nationwide network of food pantries. Organizations like the Salvation Army or Catholic Charities, as well as a variety of local churches or other social services agencies may also provide help. Please don't go without!

Apply for Jobs

coffee cup and computer

Once you have your resume polished and ready to go, it's now time to apply for jobs. I recommend you start with your Workforce Center's website. Most local companies in your area will advertise with them, so they're a natural place to start. Other options include job boards like Indeed, Monster, FlexJobs (remote jobs), and LinkedIn. Another way to go is to make a list of the places you'd like to work and check out those companies' websites. It could be local and/or state governments, hospitals, private companies, retail, or even nationwide companies that offer remote positions. There are so many options.

The most important thing is to only apply for jobs where you think you'd be a good fit. If your background is in banking, it's probably not a good idea to apply for an engineer position. Focus on those where you possess the required knowledge, skills, and abilities. You want to show that you are the best-qualified person for the position.

Invest in Personal Development

Let's be honest: being out of work means you probably have plenty of time on your hands. Now is the perfect opportunity to use some of that free time and work on yourself. Focus on acquiring new skills or brush up on old skills, keeping them up-to-date and relevant. I found classes on LinkedIn Learning, Skillshare, and Stackskills, but there are also millions of tutorials available on YouTube. You can never go wrong trying to better yourself.

Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help

People won't know you need help unless you ask. Please don't be afraid to ask! Whether it's emotion support, a need for a reference, or even a babysitter, reach out to your friends and family. Most of them will be glad to help.

Don't Get Discouraged!

Finally, don't get discouraged. I get me, I do. It took almost 6 months for me to find my current job. I had multiple interviews, got ghosted by potential employers, did everything I knew to do, and my unemployment was about to run out. It's understandable to feel anxious, uncertain, or discouraged—or all three at the same time. And sometimes you just have to take a break for a day or two, but just keep pushing. The process can take time, so try not to get down if you don't get hired immediately. The right job is out there!

Well, that's it. Those are 10 things to do if you've lost your job.

I hope you found this post helpful, and if you did or know someone it might help, please click the three little dots at the top of the page and share to the social media platform of your choice. Thank you!


Beth's Google Search Suggestions: what to do if you lose your job, how to apply for unemployment, health insurance options, resume examples, best job boards, social services help, online skill training

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is meant to be helpful and is for general use purposes. You should not rely on the information for making personal, business, legal, or any other decision. We strongly recommend that you perform your own independent research and/or speak with a qualified professional in your area.

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