(FinancialHealth.net) – Job loss is tough. Unemployment can create a lot of insecurity, no matter the specific circumstances of a layoff or firing. Knowing what to do in the hours and days that follow job loss isn’t always easy — the anxiety of this massive change can make it difficult to think clearly, but appropriate action can make a difference. Worried about what the next weeks and months might bring for you or a loved one? Take these five steps immediately after a job loss to stay on track.
Get the Facts Straight
While many employers choose to offer severance when laying off or firing an employee, there is no law that requires either or that determines what has to be included so the details can vary greatly.
Before signing a severance agreement or resignation letter, take it home and review it carefully. Some agreements may include a non-compete clause, barring employment at a similar organization. A resignation letter can also be used to protect the company from any allegations of wrongful termination. When in doubt, get outside advice before signing a document you might regret later.
File for Unemployment
It’s good to remain optimistic about finding a new position quickly, but it’s best to prepare for the possibility of long-term unemployment by filing for unemployment benefits right away. Although qualification requirements vary from state-to-state, unemployment is a benefit that is available to many workers who have been let go from a full-time job.
Each state lists the details of how to file for unemployment on the Department of Labor/CareerOneStop website.
Make Plans for Health Insurance Coverage
As a part of a severance package, many employers offer the opportunity to apply for COBRA health insurance. COBRA typically allows individuals to continue their current health insurance plan at a higher premium for a set amount of time.
If COBRA isn’t a good fit, look into self-pay insurance plans. An unexpected medical emergency can create added financial pressure, so it’s important to make plans to continue insurance coverage during unemployment.
Prepare for the Job Hunt
A strong resume and cover letter can make all the difference during the job hunt. Take time to review both, adding the details of your last position. Focus on clearly communicating the unique skills learned in previous positions along with your specific role in achievements at each company.
It is common for employers to use the internet to do extensive research on potential candidates. Now is a good time to clean up social media profiles, run a credit report and update professional profiles on sites like LinkedIn.
Adjust Your Lifestyle and Your Budget
During times of unemployment, a lifestyle and budget adjustment are almost always necessary to avoid depleting savings or creating debt. Just “spending less” may not be enough, but a budget review can shine a light on services and expenses that can be cut or adjusted for a short period of time.
Thankfully, unemployment is usually temporary. Making smart choices immediately after a job loss can create security and ease anxiety during the search for a new job.
~ Here’s to Your Financial Health
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