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15 Things to Do If You Lose Your Job

Wise Bread

The unemployment rate continues to be high, and many people are losing their jobs still. Being unemployed can be a difficult chapter of your life, and figuring out what to do can be overwhelming. Here are 15 things to do if you lose your job to stay financially and mentally sound.

1. Reflect

After losing your job, take some time to reflect on reasons why you may have been let go. Was it because your work performance wasn't up to par? Because you weren't adding value to the company? Or was it because the company had fallen on hard times and cutbacks needed to be made? If it was because of your work performance, evaluate what you could have done to be a more integral part of the team, then use what you discover to help excel at your next position. If you were let go because your company needed to make cutbacks, focus your upcoming job search on companies that are doing well in today's economy so that you can have better job stability.

2. File for Unemployment

Look into applying for unemployment. People who lost their job through no fault of their own and worked a certain number of hours may be eligible to receive unemployment; eligibility requirements differ by state. While unemployment benefits will be significantly less than what your salary was, they will still help you get by until you land your next job.

3. Figure Out Health Insurance

When you lose your job, you have the option of applying for COBRA health insurance. Enroll in COBRA or look into getting your own individual health insurance plan. Even if you are perfectly healthy, you have no control over what life may throw at you, and it's better to be insured than having to pay insane medical bills should something happen to you.

4. Cut Unnecessary Spending from Your Budget

Once your primary source of income is gone, you can't afford to spend as much as you once did. Stop and think about what budget items you absolutely must spend money on, as opposed to what you want to spend money on. Chances are you don't really need to go to Starbucks daily to get a cup of coffee--instead, opt to make coffee at home. Things like manicures, pedicures, and car washes are all things you can do on your own to save money. Eliminating unnecessary spending will give you some extra breathing room while you are looking for a new job.

5. Then Rework Your Budget

Once you've identified the things in your budget you can eliminate, rework your budget. Take a look at any emergency fund money or other savings you have and figure out how long it can last you. Factor in any unemployment money you will receive, as well as any alternate sources of income you earn, and update your budget accordingly. Take time to look over your necessary expenses too. If you can, figure out ways to reduce necessary spending. Call your internet/cable/phone providers and see if you can get a discounted rate. Call your auto insurance company and see if you are missing out on any discounts you are eligible for. If you rent an apartment, look for a cheaper apartment or get a roommate.

6. Update Your Resume

Update your resume to include your recent work experience. Focus on the tasks you performed and the results you achieved. If you have numerical data to back up your results, include it. Also, go back through the other positions listed on your resume, and make sure you have done a thorough job of highlighting the experience you gained at those positions. Of course, be sure to watch out for typos and grammatical errors.

7. Clean Up Your Social Media Profiles

Look through your social media profiles to see if they are employer-friendly. Check to make sure you haven't been tagged in any inappropriate photos or status updates, and look at your wall to ensure your friends haven't left any unseemly comments on your page. You can always set your profile to private just to be safe.

8. Evaluate the Direction of Your Career

As you start the process of finding a new job, take some time to think about what direction you want your career to go. Were you happy with your old job? Did you enjoy the industry you were working in? The position you had? Or were you absolutely miserable? If you loved your job, look for something similar that will make you happy. But if you hated it, think about what industry you might enjoy working in or a position that might be a better fit for you. Now is your chance to make a career change!

9. Make Finding a New Job Your Full-Time Job

OK, so you might not spend eight hours a day looking for a new job (that could be a bit excessive), but make finding a new job your top priority. At this point, there is nothing more important than finding a steady job to pay the bills, so spend time every day searching through job boards and hiring pages of companies you're interested in working for. New jobs surface every day, so prevent yourself from missing out on them by checking sites like Monster or CareerBuilder regularly.

10. Network

Start reaching out to the people in your professional network. Let them know you are searching for a new job, and see if they have any leads. By keeping people informed as to what you are up to and what you are looking for, you never know what doors may open. Also, look into attending networking events to connect with new people. Who knows, the next person you meet may be the person to help you find the right job for you.

11. Take on Part-Time Work

Keep your head above water financially by taking on some part-time work to help pay the bills. Are you good at English or math? Consider working as a tutor. Do you love writing? Try some freelance writing work. Are you a programming genius? Find some random programming jobs. Having some extra income while you are looking for a stable job will help keep your stress levels low, because you won't have to be as worried about money.

12. Learn New Skills

Make yourself more marketable to potential employers by adding a few new skills to your resume. Attend a seminar on social media marketing. Take a programming course at your local community college. Or read some books to become more educated in a field that interests you. Employers are looking for potential employees who regularly update their skill sets, so by adding a new skill or two, you will improve your chances of getting hired.

13. Declutter Your Life

Now that you have some extra time on your hands, declutter your life. Go through each room of your house and either sell, donate, or throw away things you rarely use and don't need. Having a clean home free of clutter will help you feel refreshed and rejuvenated as you start this new chapter of your life. It also has the potential to put some extra money in your pocket if you sell some of the items you decide to get rid of.

14. Get Healthy

Don't get into a rut if you lose your job. Get yourself on an exercise program. Go outside and go for a run or walk. Go for a swim. Take a hike. Just get out and be active! Also, if you don't cook regularly, consider learning how to put together a few healthy meals. By eating healthier and exercising, you'll feel more confident about yourself, which could help the next time you have an interview.

15. Don't Get Discouraged

Being unemployed is tough. It's not something anyone really wants to have to deal with when they've got bills to pay. And when you keep sending out resumes, going to interviews, and getting overlooked for positions you feel you were a good fit for, it can be discouraging. But be patient with yourself and the job-hunting process. Take time to look at why you didn't get the job and use what you learn to do better the next time you send out your resume or go for an interview. Eventually, you will get a job.

What tips do you have for people who have lost their job? Share your ideas in the comment section.

Ashley Jacobs is a writer for career blog Wise Bread--a comprehensive source of job hunting and extra income advice.

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