During this uncertain time, you or a member of your family may be facing unemployment. Coping with it means breaking away from the past and facing the future. It means dealing with the emotional, financial, and professional challenges unemployment can bring. Although this process can be painful, facing unemployment with a plan will help make coping with it easier.
Dealing with your emotions
Losing your job is an emotional experience–whether you are laid off or fired, whether you quit or retire. Your feelings of self-worth are tied more closely to your job than you realize. Although you’re certainly entitled to relax a while after your job ends, it’s easy to let a few days of sleeping late, watching television, and playing golf turn into a few months of inactivity. Be careful not to use your need to relax as an excuse to avoid facing your future. The more time that passes, the more likely you’ll feel anxious and depressed about your future. Here are three tips on what you can do to keep yourself moving:
- Pretend that you’re still working. You’ve probably heard the adage that finding a job is a full-time job. Well, it’s usually true. So why not pretend that you’re still working? You don’t have to get dressed up for this job, but at least get out of bed at the same time and get going. Stop for lunch and then work again until late afternoon. Keep moving, and you’ll accomplish your goal of finding a new job with a lot less anxiety.
- Get a calendar and write down what you want to accomplish each day for one week. Be specific and reasonable. Don’t write “call future employers ” Instead, write “call the human resource departments at five publishing companies.” Then, write down what your weekly goal will be. You might write “compile a list of five potential employers and send resumes to them.” Setting goals will help you feel in control of your fate and will ultimately help you get a job.
- Reward yourself. Looking for a job is tough, so after a long, hard day of job hunting, reward yourself. For instance, promise yourself in the morning that if you accomplish everything on your list by three o’clock, you can go to the matinee of the movie you’ve been wanting to see.
Find out what unemployment compensation you may receive
If you are being terminated for any reason, find out if you will receive severance pay and what unemployment benefits you may receive. You’re likely to receive severance pay if you are laid off, but severance pay is usually based on the number of years you’ve been with the company. If you are laid off or fired, you may be eligible for unemployment compensation from your state. Your employer can give you the details. You should also find out when you will receive your final paycheck and if you are eligible for compensation for vacation or sick days you accumulated but never took.
Find out about continuing your medical benefits through COBRA
If you work for a company with more than 20 employees, your employer must notify both you and your spouse (if any) via first class mail that you have the right to continue your group health insurance coverage after your employment has been terminated (unless it ended because of gross misconduct). Under COBRA, you can continue your benefits up to 18 months, and your spouse and dependent children may be covered up to 36 months. However, you’ll probably have to pay the full premium cost plus a small administrative fee–your employer won’t contribute anything. If you work for a company that has fewer than 20 employees, you’ll have to check your state’s laws to see if you can continue coverage. Some states have passed legislation that gives employees of small employers the right to continue their health care coverage for a certain period of time.
Determine how you will handle your retirement account or pension plan funds
If you will receive a lump-sum pension plan or savings plan distribution, decide where you want that money to go. It’s easiest if you authorize your employer to transfer funds directly from your retirement plan to another retirement plan you have set up elsewhere. Although you may be tempted to withdraw money from your retirement account to provide much-needed income, do so only if this is your only option.
Find out whether your employer-sponsored group disability or life insurance policy is convertible or portable
When you lose your job, you may also lose your disability or life insurance coverage. Although disability insurance is rarely portable or convertible (you can’t take it with you or convert it to an individual policy), your group life insurance policy may be.
Set realistic expectations as you begin your job search
It may take you a lot longer to find a job than you think. You may have to update your resume, research job openings, and interview more than once with a potential employer. You should expect the job hunt to last at least six weeks and be prepared for it to last at least six months, especially in a tight job market (one rule of thumb is to expect it to last one month for every $10,000 of compensation). You may also have to decide whether you’re willing to move to a different area if you can’t find a job locally.
Set up a support network
Networking can mean either finding others who can support you emotionally when you’re unemployed or finding individuals and printed materials that can help you find a new job. You can find emotional support through friends, relatives, job-hunters’ support groups, or Internet sites. In addition, many resources are available to help you find a new job. You can find numerous books and newspapers at your local bookstore or library that will help you determine your career goals, prepare a resume, and research companies in your area. You can talk to professional job counselors, headhunters, temporary agencies, or image counselors (you may have to pay them a fee, in some cases) who can help you find job openings or line up interviews. Whether for emotional support or the job hunt itself, make sure that you are casting a wide net.
Copyright 2006-2019 Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved. The information provided is from a third-party source which we believe to be reliable, but we have not independently verified the content. This material is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or tax advice and is not intended to replace the advice of a qualified attorney, tax advisor or plan provider.