4 Steps to Take When Unemployed

unemploymentUnemployment is not a beloved term in our language, and it is one of the last situations an adult wants to find themselves in.

But sadly, for those who entered the workforce right before or during the Great Recession, unemployment has become a fact of life. The most recent numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics put the unemployment rate at 7.7 percent.

While this may seem to be an improvement over years like 2010, which saw 10 percent unemployment rate, this specific rate only reflects the number of people who report being unemployed and are searching for jobs. Those who are unemployed who simply have given up searching for more than a year are not included in the figure. Also not included are people with only part-time jobs or those underemployed, i.e. working a job that is far below their qualifications. This gives us an inaccurate picture of the economy.

Unemployment often has little or nothing to do with a person’s abilities or efforts. Many times, it is determined by outside factors beyond their control. What this means is that everyone should be informed and knowledgeable about what to do if they should become unemployed suddenly, like I was for over a month, and the steps critical to maintaining good finances until you can find a new job.

Here are some tips that I learned for my brief stint unemployed.

1. File for unemployment benefits immediately

Contact your state’s unemployment office. Do this as soon as you become aware of the situation. Thanks to the Internet, you claim file your unemployment claim online and don’t have to visit an office. The process takes some time, however, so anticipate several weeks before you receive your benefits. Additionally, when you’re filing your claim, ensure that all the information you send them is precise and accurate, because even the slightest discrepancy (such as the wrong date of your last work day) can cause a delay in receiving benefits.

To receive benefits, you will have to have at least three job contacts each week, which you may or may not have to send to the unemployment office to verify. Create an excel sheet and document all the necessary information for each job you apply to. Thankfully, some companies will send you a confirmation email with all the information you need.

2. Make sure you and your dependents are enrolled in a health insurance plan

Contact your company’s health insurance provider and inquire about their policy concerning coverage and when it expires once you’re unemployed. It is important to have your new coverage take effect as soon as your current coverage ceases in case you have an illness, a health condition that requires a prescription, or you require an operation. The last thing you need while unemployed is to get stuck with a hefty medical bill.

There are several insurances plans available in the event you become unemployed. One of them is Cobra, which must be done within 60 days. You can also check out einsurance.com or, if you’re strapped for cash, catastrophic health insurance at places like compare.ehealthinsurance.com, which covers only the most critical procedures.

3. Assess your finances

Determine your spending level versus your income each month. If there is a deficit, find out if there is any unnecessary expenditure you can eliminate.

Examine your credit card debt, how great it is, when the payments are, the minimum payment and whether or not you can pay them off entirely. Hopefully, you will have at least six months of emergency savings which will help out in this area.

If you have any extra or unwanted items in your home, sell them online at amazon.com, craigslist, or ebay.com and use the money to cover expenses.

4. Utilize every option when searching for jobs

Networking is the name of the game. If you don’t have an account on linkedin.com, create one as soon as possible. It works as a professional networking site, allowing both potential employers and employees to search for people to hire and find potential jobs. Many companies allow you to include your linkedin.com profile as part of your job application, and for some applications all you have to do is submit your profile.

On your account you want to post all your resume information, including contact phone number and email. You then want to find others you know professionally and connect with them. If they happen to be connected to an employer for a company you’re applying to, you can send them a message and ask for a possible introduction.

Additionally, job sites like indeed.com and monster.com make it easy for you to find and apply for jobs in your local area. Employers also check sites like monster.com, where you can upload your resume, and contact you if they are interested.

When creating a resume, three things are essential; it has to be organized, clear, and easy for a potential employer to read. There are numerous sites that offer sample resumes (The Art of Manliness has a great article). You want your resume to stick out, but don’t exaggerate or over-inflate your abilities and skills. Triple-check it for spelling and grammar. Then give it to your friends and family to read. At the same time, ask them to keep their eyes and ears open to any job opening that might be good for you.

Just remember; most of the time a resume is the first impression a potential employee will get of you (unless you’re introduced first). The interview comes second. Make it a good one.

After you’ve applied for a job, contact the company to confirm they received your application. It will also show you’re persistent and thorough, two qualities all employers are looking for.

Lastly, be willing to take jobs you might not necessarily like, but they pay the bills. It is better than unemployment, and you can always apply for other jobs as you work and collect a paycheck.

photo by smemon

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Written by TJ

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