9 Things to Do if You Lost Your Job

Mary Kate Morrow
April 14, 2020

If you lost your job as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, you are not alone. More than 50% of Americans under the age of 45 reported they had lost their job or had their hours cut as a result of the pandemic.

In some European countries, governments are paying companies to retain their employees. In the United States, there have been attempts by the government to help the economy with stimulus packages, but they are not enough to save some businesses.

Business owners are panicking and attempting to cut costs drastically to avoid closing their doors forever. Nonessential businesses are struggling to stay afloat while storefronts are closed until further notice. Lenders and small business assistance websites are overwhelmed and struggling to meet the needs of businesses during the pandemic.

If you lost your job as a result of your company’s downsizing or closure, it is important to remember that in most cases, your job loss had nothing to do with your performance. By creating a routine, focusing your job search efforts and finding ways to save money, you will survive your job loss. You may even find yourself in a new and more satisfying career.

1. Take a Deep Breath

An unexpected job loss can be a very traumatic experience. Take some time to grieve the loss of your job. Take comfort that you are not alone in pandemic and remind yourself that your essential survival needs will be met. If you are unable to pay your mortgage or rent, take solace in the fact that you cannot be kicked out of your home during the pandemic.

Many lenders and landlords are offering deferrals of payments. For those that are not, courts are not in session to execute evictions, even if your landlord starts the process. Most eviction cases are being suspended until late April, possibly well into May and even later if the crisis persists.

2. Apply for Unemployment

If you are out of a job, apply for unemployment immediately and note that it may take some time to receive your first payment. You can find your state’s unemployment benefits center online. The Shelter-in-Place order was extended until the end of April and it’s unclear whether or not it will be extended even further. Thankfully, the current stimulus package allows states to extend and increase benefits. Unemployment benefits eligibility has been expanded to include freelancers, furloughed employees and gig-economy workers.

Every state’s requirements and benefits are different. The enhanced unemployment insurance benefits to furloughed and laid-off workers is a $600 weekly supplement on top of the average $300 to $400 check from the state. You will be eligible for this benefit for up to 39 weeks. Each state has a different maximum so be sure to check with your local unemployment office.

3. Collect Your Stimulus Check

If you made $75,000 or less in the previous year, you are eligible for a $1,200 stimulus check. There is an additional $500 check per child. Avoid spending your stimulus check frivolously because we may not get another payment. This check was intended to hold Americans over until unemployment benefits go into effect.

4. Create a Routine, and Stick to it

Before you dive into your job search, create a healthy daily routine. Experts suggest continuing to set your alarm in the morning and sticking to a schedule every day after losing a job.

Remember to take extra care of both your physical and mental health during this pandemic. Eating well and sleeping regularly will help strengthen your immunity and boost your mood. Avoid alcohol and drug use as they impair your ability to get quality sleep.

Adopt healthy coping mechanisms, such as meditating, exercising and breathing techniques. Creating and keeping a routine that incorporates healthy habits will soothe your body and mind and will help you be more effective in your job search.

5. Start Your Job Search

Create a plan for your job search and tackle it. Use this time to update your job application materials including your resume, references and cover letter. If you have a LinkedIn profile, make sure to notify your network that you are open to new opportunities. Virtual networking should be your priority while we are stuck at home. Contact professionals directly. Personal referrals can help you get your foot in the door at your next company.

There are various online websites that you can use to search for jobs in your field, including Glassdoor, Monster, Linkedin and Indeed. Many of these sites have the option to create job alerts that will regularly email you a list of jobs that you may be interested in, based on keywords you input. Beyond online job boards, you can consider going through recruiters or staffing agencies to find your next job.

6. Connect with Others

Unemployed and isolated people often feel out of control of their situation, less autonomous and less competent. These feelings manifest as sleep problems, poor concentration, trauma and depression. Isolated persons may feel disconnected from their support system, which is why it is important to keep connected. If you were laid off from your job, try reaching out to your coworkers via text, call or email. You may even end up finding your next job through your old coworker’s networks or they may offer to be a reference for your next job application.

7. Save Money

During an economic crisis, every dollar counts. To directly combat the financial hardships caused by the pandemic, 42 states are now requiring insurers to provide payment extensions and other relief for consumers. They include Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

If you are worried about being able to make your insurance premium payments on time, you should contact your insurance company directly. Keep in mind that it is also a great time to reevaluate your insurance needs and potentially save money by comparing insurance quotes. If you are able to bundle your insurance policies, you may find yourself saving a lot of money.

8. Buy Health Insurance

Your health should always be your top priority, but unfortunately, in the United States, losing your job often means losing your health insurance. You may be in the market for a new health insurance policy if you lost your job as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Note that many states have opened up the enrollment period to allow you to buy health insurance during the pandemic.

Even if your state has not opened up the marketplace plans, if you are suddenly unemployed, divorced or pregnant, you can enroll in a health plan outside the open enrollment period. If you already have coverage through the marketplace, you can report your income change and apply for an increased subsidy.

9. Save on Auto Insurance and Home Insurance

When was the last time you evaluated your auto insurance rate? Are you getting all the discounts that you can on your policy? If you’ve had any major life changes, you may qualify for new discounts. You are likely not driving nearly as much if you are one of the millions of people sheltering in place. To address the massive decrease in miles driven, some car insurance companies are offering rate reimbursements or refunds to their customers.

Take a good look at the coverage your homeowners insurance provides and consider whether or not you need to increase your coverage. See if you’re eligible for a major price break if you bundle your homeowners insurance or renters insurance policy with your auto insurance policy. You may also want to add additional policies for disasters that are not covered by traditional homeowners or renters insurance, including earthquake and flood insurance.

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