Most people who go to work each day are not worrying about the possibility of a job loss, just as most people dining in a restaurant are not worried about the possibility of salmonella in the salad. This is good. If we all agonized today about everything that might happen tomorrow, we could not enjoy our work or our meals. But, as when unexpected digestive problems occur it is nice to have some Pepto Bismol in the house, so when an unexpected job loss occurs, it is nice to have a plan.
So, for all those who find themselves faced with sudden unemployment, I have compiled a short list of my suggestions for the days/week(s) immediately following a job loss:
1. Immediately assess your termination agreement with your current employer. Determine the length and amount of any severance package you might have. Take special heed of your health insurance needs. You and your family should not be without health insurance for even one day. If your company provides outplacement services, use them.
2. Apply for unemployment benefits without delay.
3. Discuss your unemployment with your immediate family. Do not try to spare your spouse and children from anxiety and shoulder the burden alone. You need the support of your family, and your family needs to understand that a lifestyle change might be forthcoming.
4. Assess your financial situation including savings, income, and expenses. Figure out which expenses can be cut and which can’t. If possible, postpone any dramatic life changes such as a change of housing for at least several months.
5. Take a personal inventory of your skills, your perceived market value, and your employment goals for the immediate future. If available, review your skill set with a career advisor or a trusted mentor within your field or a career-oriented field.
6. Prepare a resume that highlights your most marketable skills. Have a trusted friend or advisor review your document.
7. Post your resume and/or professional profile on every professional and social networking site you are aware of, including LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, as well as job posting sites.
8. Prepare a brief verbal statement about your background and your goals to use for face-to-face and/or phone networking. Rehearse your statement so you can deliver it to friends and contacts without nervousness. Be prepared to expand on your brief statement to an interested party.
9. NOW…you are ready to start the networking process via phone and e-mail, using the above verbal statement of background and career goals. Start with your closest friends, family members, colleagues and acquaintances and work outward. Look for meaningful job clubs or organizations in your vicinity
10. Be prepared to approach your job search as your job. You do not have to work eight hours a day – that would be kidding yourself - but do something every day. Consistent effort is imperative.
11. Refresh your job search/interviewing skills. You may be required to interview on a few days’ notice. I’ve heard there’s a very good book available….
12. And then there's week 2.