What to do if you lose your job

Written by
Peter Dunn

If you have ever fallen down and had the wind knocked out of your lungs, then you know what the beginning of panic feels like. You want to breathe, but you can't. You are a bit stunned by the fall. You lay there hoping that some strange animal instinct kicks in and you remember how to produce breath again. While all this is happening, panic is creeping in. The crazy "what if's" start.

If you have ever suddenly lost your job, then you most likely have experienced the same "wind knocked out of you" feeling. You need a plan. Here's a plan.

  1. Immediately take inventory of your benefits- Most people take their benefits for granted. Whereas people generally value their health insurance, rarely do they value the rest of their benefits (e.g. life insurance, dental insurance, legal services, etc).
  1. Create a list of people to talk to- You are now a part of the group of people seeking employment. This is a vast, diverse group of people. Your job is now to prove why you are better for a particular job than anyone else in this group of people. This means that you need to make a list of people than can help you get the job that you want - quickly. The list should include: former colleagues, competitors, industry experts, influencers, and confidants. This isn't a desperation move. This is an extended version of "putting feelers out."
  1. Don't ignore your money problems- You are undoubtedly stressed out. Your lack of job means that you have a lack of income. Don't bury your head in the sand. You must become hyperaware of your financial life during this time. You must come to terms with all of your debt, all of your expenses, and all of the assets that may assist you during this challenging time.
  1. Use your emergency fund wisely- How long until you find another job? I don't know either. You must ration your emergency fund. If you are receiving unemployment benefits, then you must supplement these benefits with your emergency funds.
  1. Don't borrow money- Fight like hell to prevent your family from going into debt. Your unemployment is temporary, but you can't let the financial problems created by your employment linger on forever. Your lifestyle SHOULD change significantly if you are unemployed. Borrowing a single penny (using a credit card) on unnecessary expenses while unemployed is foolish and inexcusable.

Feel free to get mad, but keep your head. Make sure you are channeling your emotion towards problem solving. In fact, here are the top three skills/characteristics that you need to employ as you seek employment

  1. Problem-solving skills- You have a major problem. To put this very simply: you have a major problem and you need to find a major solution.
  1. Confidence- This may be the lowest point in your life when it comes to confidence, but you need to ignore this. You can't expect anyone to hire you if you lack confidence. Do whatever it takes to build confidence. Challenge a toddler to a foot-race. Arm-wrestle your dog. Just hit the job-seeking process with confidence.
  1. Humility- You may have loved your job, thus losing it may have caused you great disappointment. In addition, you may not like the new job prospects that are on the horizon. Approach your new reality with humility.

Job loss affects your financial life, but that doesn't mean that you should only make decisions based on money. If you can survive during one of the most difficult times in your financial life, then you will thrive when things turn around. Be purposeful.

Step up your financial wellness game.

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