Five things you need to do when you lose your job

Just been sacked or laid off out of the blue? Here are five things you need to do when you lose your job.

Being sacked or laid off from your job can be traumatic, especially if you enjoy your work and rely on the income. But sadly, this exactly what happened to 1.7 million people in the US in December 2018.

So what can you do if this happens to you? If the job you thought was secure is suddenly taken away from you? To help you navigate this period, and get you back on your feet ready to find a new job again, here are five things you need to do.

1) Work out a new budget

Without a steady flow of income for the moment, you need to revisit your expenses. And with no guarantee of when you’ll next be working, this means cutting costs where you can.

Studies show that simply understanding where you are spending your money forces you to spend less, and there are plenty of free applications out there to track your spending habits. Mint, for example, is a free app that will track your expenses with weekly reports and graphs that help you visualise where you should put your money next.

However you choose to do it, it’s important to be brutally honest with yourself about how much money you have to spend, and why it needs to be spent on, and what luxuries you’ll have to forgo for a while.

2) File for unemployment

Filing for unemployment seems scary, but try to reframe it as a sensible way to get by while you search for another job. If you have no other way of sustaining yourself, unemployment benefits can help you to put food on the table and cover other necessities while you’re actively job hunting.

To file for unemployment, submit an application to your state government with information on your situation. The amount you’ll receive varies state-by-state.

3) Get health insurance

One necessity that you need to take care of when faced with unemployment is health insurance. Whatever your circumstances, health insurance is vital for emergencies and medical bills.

Luckily, there are several options for health insurance for unemployed people. One is COBRA, which includes staying on your previous employer’s health insurance plan for up to 18 months. If this is too expensive or not an option for you, you can also apply for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

As the regular application has ended, you will have to show that you have special circumstances with your job loss. Research your options carefully, as the status of your health will play a large role in the type of insurance that you need.

4) Plan your next steps

Once you’ve got the essentials out of the way, it’s time to step back and evaluate what your next steps are going to be.

MIT has an 8 step career planning guide that can help you identify what’s next. First, understand what is possible for you. What skills and qualifications do you have that will provide value to the economy? Make a list of your options and rate them from most to least appealing, then sort by factors like your location, family, and other situations.

Once you have found a career suitable for you, create a career plan with SMART goals that are time-bound and actionable.

5) Get back out there

The hardest part is over, and now it’s time to get back on your feet and show the world your capabilities. With a backup income, health insurance, and a new plan of action, you should be more than prepared to start a new career that brings you joy and endless possibilities.

The end of one career does not mean a door closes; thousands of doors have just been waiting, and you now have the opportunity to turn the handle.

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