If you are one of those who have been recently deprived of their job or feel like it's on the horizon, rest assured that you are not alone. This has been a particularly tough year for many people in the tech industry, especially given the turbulent times and uncertainties brought about by the pandemic.
Just a few months ago, my best friend, who had been in the same situation, called me in tears, telling me she was laid off. Not only did she have no clue if her former employer would ever hire her again, she was uncertain of her career prospects in the current market and the lack of job security and lack of income, even if she did choose to search for other options.
It's been documented that unemployment can adversely affect an individual's mental health, a research finding that has been corroborated by a study which states that those who are unemployed are more prone to feel distressed, unsatisfied with their life, and report higher rates of mental health issues compared to those who have employment.
Job loss can certainly feel like a catastrophic situation. The stress, anguish, and hopelessness of such a moment can be quite overwhelming, and make it feel like one is incapable of making it through. However, such moments of adversity may prove to be a hidden blessing in disguise; it could be the right time to explore your passion and move closer to your dreams, and you might even luck out and land your dream job, just like my best friend did.
Let's look into the things that one can do to remain afloat when their job is gone, as well as some effective ways to protect and take care of your mental well-being when faced with a job loss.
Before embarking on your job-search journey, take the time to mourn and process your job loss. Realize that this experience will be life-changing and understand that you may experience a range of emotions, including denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and ultimately, acceptance. Take a step back to recognize all that you achieved in your prior job, the positive moments and any potential areas of improvement. Moving forward, contemplate the potential career opportunities and the goals that you would like to accomplish. Document your thoughts, as it is a form of self-care that will be beneficial when you start to talk to others about your professional experiences.
There are a few time-sensitive tasks that you need to take care of right away.
Evaluate your health insurance options. You may be eligible for COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) which lets you keep your employee health plan for a limited period. Alternatively, you could join your spouse's or parents' plan (if you're 26 or younger), or apply for coverage through the ACA (Affordable Care Act). You may also be eligible for Medicaid or CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program) if you meet certain income criteria.
When you lose your job, it can feel like the world is crumbling down and your daily routine is going with it. But trust us, a routine is more important than ever. Without structure, you may find yourself binge-watching Netflix until 2 am and missing out on all the job opportunities that come your way.
So, let's get that schedule back on track and make it as fun as possible! Maybe you'll wake up to the sweet sound of an alarm clock instead of a cat meowing, or set aside time for a virtual happy hour with friends. Just remember, a routine is not just good for productivity, it's good for the soul!
Here's an example of a routine that can be good for mental health:
Remember, a routine can be flexible, adapt it to your lifestyle and personal preferences, but try to stick to it as much as possible, you will feel more in control and you will be able to take better care of yourself.
When you examine your finances after losing a job, you can feel secure that your costs can be covered now and that there's no need to stress every time you make a purchase or pay a bill. If you take stock and realize you are unable to afford your costs, you will have the next step to act on.
You don't need to do this all at once - you could spend thirty minutes each day incorporating it into your daily schedule. Doing it bit by bit can provide a feeling of progress each day too. Here are some tips:
I. Review Your Spending
Assess your spending and work out what adjustments you'll make. Collect your recent bank and credit card statements to get a better understanding of where your money is going. Put each expense in its own 'bucket': essential (no change), reduce, pause or cancel. Analyze your spending and see if there are more affordable places to purchase items such as food and clothing. Consider shopping around and see if there is scope to negotiate prices on services such as your phone or internet bills - it could be worth contacting your credit card company to see if you can lower your rate. Learn more about your financial situation, if you need to.
II. Understand Your Debt
If you're unable to pay off your credit card debt, consider talking to a credit counselor who can help you create a more manageable payment plan going forward. Also, check your student loan servicer's options for when payments resume - could you potentially get some debt relief?
III. Find New Sources of Income
Explore your possible sources of income: for instance, look at the amount of your unemployment check, when you can start receiving it and for how long it will last in your state.
IV. Tap into Your Emergency Fund
Check your emergency fund (if you have one), your lines of credit and any other sources of debt you may have to access, like personal loans, home equity loans or putting expenses on credit cards. This is the time to use these funds to help you.
V. Get a Financial Coach
It can seem lonely but this might be the moment, where having a coach who can help you plan your finances better is going to be useful. Coaches can not only help you take an unbiased view of your finances, they'll also support you in making the right decisions which can often be harder when you're stressed.
Job hunting can be a daunting task, but it's important to remember that you're not alone in this process. The key to finding your next opportunity is networking and building connections. Start by reaching out to your friends and past coworkers, they can be a valuable resource in your job search and might even know of an opportunity that's a perfect fit for you. Here are some tips to make the most of the process:
I. Reach out to Everyone
Don't be afraid to reach out to people you don't know, but who inspire you. If they're truly an influence on you, your true, authentic voice will come through when you reach out. You never know where the next opportunity might come from.
II. Craft Your Story
It's also important to craft your story and get clear on your skills and unique talents. This will help you in interviews and when building connections. A great way to start is by creating an "elevator pitch" which is a concise description of who you are, what you do, why you do it, who you do it for, how you do it well, and what you're looking for.
III. Showcase Your Full Self on Social Media
Another important step is to revamp your resume and LinkedIn profile, it should reflect who you are now and showcase your skills, experiences and accomplishments. Make sure your profile is set to public and join groups around your interests and passions, this is a great way to build connections and start conversations.
IV. Look Broader
While you're job hunting, take the time to research other companies and broaden your scope. Understand what organizations inspire you and how your skills, values, and experiences could apply to a number of industries, roles, and professions. By understanding why you'd love to work at certain companies, you'll be better equipped to think creatively about where you could fit in and to ask the right questions during interviews.
V. Build Connections
Networking and building connections is the key to finding your next opportunity, don't be afraid to reach out and tell your story. And don't forget to take the time to learn about other companies, broaden your scope and think creatively about where you could fit in. With a little bit of effort and persistence, you'll land your next opportunity in no time.
Losing your job can feel like a devastating blow, but it's important to remember that it's just a temporary setback. Every day, people just like you are discovering amazing new opportunities and finding their dream jobs, sometimes even better ones than before. With the current job market, many people have been laid off this year, so potential employers will understand the situation you're in and they will be more empathetic.
You have the power within you to bounce back from this setback and come out even stronger. Remember, you are more than your job title, you are a valuable employee with unique skills and experience that will be sought after by many companies. You have the ability to create a brighter future for yourself, so don't give up hope. The only way is forward, and with a positive attitude and a determined mindset, you will find yourself thriving in your next opportunity.
For more guidance and support, reach out to our coaches at Bolder Money who know exactly what it takes to re-build your career after a job loss.