Surviving Job Loss: A Checklist for Coping with Job Loss and Regaining Your Momentum
Surviving job loss can be the most intensely challenging time of your life. Here is a clear-cut, realistic framework to get back on track and building momentum toward whatever is next for you.
If you are coping with job loss or have been hit by layoffs, I hope you will find this article and career advice helpful in your search for what's next. If you have additional tips to share with others in a similar situation, please share your story! Job loss can be lonely, so we're actively gathering and sharing tips people just like you. It is our intent to make this as useful as possible to help people through this challenging time.
Surviving job loss has never been such a pressing concern for so many people. The economic downturn has pushed federal unemployment numbers to ten percent -- and the actual number of unemployed people seeking work is even higher than that. According to the Wall Street Journal (The Economy is Even Worse Than You Think, July 14, 2009), the average length of unemployment increased to 24.5 weeks. That's the longest since government began tracking this data in 1948.
But enough of the bad news. Beat the odds by having a focused plan.
Surviving Job Loss with a Layoff Survival Plan
Here's a checklist of ten things that can help you turn the table in your favor again.
- Take Care of Yourself
We've put this at the top of the list for a reason -- you may have a long road ahead and need to be up for the challenge. There are three basic elements here to pay attention to: Sleep, exercise and nutrition.
If you're like most people surviving job loss, you've had a few sleepless nights. Add to that the long hours you were likely working prior to this situation and it spells exhaustion. Catch up on your sleep. If that means a short 30-minute nap during the day, go for it. While I do not advocate laziness, the reality is that you will be more fit to go to the next level if you take care of yourself now.
On the other end of the spectrum, you'll want to get moving. Exercise releases mood-enhancing hormones called endorphins. Endorphins lift your mood, improve your memory and help increase your motivation -- just the things that you need when you're surviving job loss. Whether you work a daily walk into your routine, get back to the gym or turn on Exercise TV, keep moving to feel better, look better and be more effective.
Nutrition is important when you're surviving job loss as well. As your daily routine changes, so may your eating habits. Keep them healthy. Eating your way out of depression is no way to start a new journey. And don't forget the water. Commit to your health and take it seriously when you're working your plan of surviving job loss.
- File for Unemployment Insurance if You Are Eligible
For some people coping with job loss and layoffs in the United States, unemployment is an option, though this is certainly not true for everyone. To find out if you qualify, Google "unemployment insurance benefits in [State]" where the [State] is where you reside. If you do qualify, file right away. Most states have a waiting period before you can collect benefits. In addition, there will be an investigation into your claim, and that can slow down the process. File as soon as you can.
- Activate Your Network
Tell everyone you know that you are looking for new employment. Networking is a critical part of surviving job loss -- for practical reasons and emotional reasons. Maintain those connections. Networking is the single most effective way to find a job. The more people who know you’re job hunting, the more chances someone will know of a job opportunity for you. Check out the resources here about the advantages of networking.
In addition to face-to-face networking, activate your social network as well on LinkedIn, Facebook, Naymz or other site(s) you prefer. Remember to keep it professional -- you never know when a potential employer will see your posts.
- Remain Clear About What You Offer and of a Bright Future
Employers want to hire upbeat, savvy people and confidence is key. Stay in tune with the market by reading the trade journals, initiating informational interviews, networking. Master your personal introduction and share it with everyone you know.
It's easy to slip into negative thinking when you feel like you're just barely surviving job loss, but that only hastens a downward spiral. Keep yourself focused on your best qualities and speak positively about the future and what you want. Keep in mind that chaos is full of opportunity and is a very good thing. Now is the time to develop a trust in yourself and even faith in the future. Know that good things will come. They will.
- Find a Temporary, Freelance or Interim Job
If you need to, find a stop-gap job to stay afloat. This could be consulting, freelancing, temporary agencies or any job that will bring in money. While finding something related to what you really want is ideal, be realistic when you need to be and take any job the will bring in money and save your sanity. You need the sanity and clear head to navigate your job search.
As you consider a stop-gap job, don't let pride get in your way. Be open to new opportunities. Consider smaller companies, different industries, service jobs, blue collar jobs, temporary agencies. After all, nothing lasts forever.
To continue reading the checklist for Surviving Job Loss, click here.
To share tips that have worked for you or read about how others are coping with job loss, click here.
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