If you’re unemployed right now know that you are not alone. Far from it actually, as 10 million Americans became unemployed in March of 2020 alone. The unfortunate truth is that the economy is struggling and the job market has shrunk. But you already know that. The million dollar question is, what do you do now?
Losing your job takes a mental toll, especially if you didn’t see it coming. While many job cuts are business decisions made because of a numbers game, it can still be hard not to take it as an indictment of personal and professional failure no matter the circumstances.
With that being said, there is one thing you can do right now to help yourself.
The first thing you need to do is act. Don’t get caught up in trying to figure out what went wrong, or what you could’ve done better, it won’t change the present. The fact is, you no longer have a job and you need to do something about it. Here are nine steps you should take as soon as you can to rebound and get back on your feet.
Yes, it’s going to take some time because the system is getting overwhelmed by new applicants but be patient and be persistent. This is money you’re entitled to and you always have to act accordingly. Don’t push it off until next week, that’s hundreds of dollars of your money that you’re letting vanish into thin air. The easiest way to do it is to file online. Visit Office of Unemployment Compensation for instructions on how to file for PA Unemployment. Also be sure to complete the Career Link questionnaire within three weeks from the opening of your claim or you will lose your eligibility. Take note that if you received severance pay or any kind of severance package, it may be deducted from your first payouts.
You are eligible for PA Unemployment if:
You are Not Eligible for PA Unemployment if:
For more information on PA Unemployment Benefits Unemployment Compensation Guide. To find out what information you’ll need handy when you file Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Filing Materials Checklist.
Additionally, you should make sure that you’ve tied up every loose string with your former employer. Make sure you’ve maxed out the medical benefits that you’ve paid into, especially your Flexible Spending Accounts, and double check that you were paid out for any unused vacation or sick days. Again, this is all your money, you need to make sure that it comes to you.
Also, you need to figure out the best way to continue to get healthcare coverage if you were receiving it through your employer. Some people are fortunate enough to be able to switch to a spouse or partner’s healthcare plan, but many people relied on their employer for their healthcare coverage. If you’re one of those people, look into to COBRA benefits. COBRA stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986, which is a prevision of Title X. COBRA Benefits continue the healthcare plan that you had in place before you lost your job for up to 18 months. You do, however, have to pay the full premium, meaning you have to pay your old monthly premium in addition to what your employer was paying as well. While expensive, COBRA offers a necessary lifeline to people who would otherwise not have another option for coverage.
For more information on COBRA Benefits, eligibility, and costs, An Employee's Guide to Health Benefits Under COBRA.
Reach out to people you know in your job field or related ones. They may know of openings, or places that are looking to hire people like you, and if not, they’ll keep you in mind if something does come up. It can be a little awkward to ask for help, but essentially what you’re doing is building a network that will cast a wide net for you in the job market, the more people that know that you’re available and looking, the wider the net.
Take advantage of a new start, even if it’s involuntary, and ask yourself what your top choices of places to work would be and research them. Visit their websites and see if they have career pages that list their job opportunities. Take matters into your own hands and actively engage the places you want to work and the people you want to work with. If you let things come to you, you may find yourself having to compromise on what your professional goals and preferences are.
This is an extension of Step 3. After you’ve reached out to your contacts, expand them. Call people you worked years ago, or that friend of a friend who works in the same industry. People are more willing to help other people gain employment than you may believe. You also may connect with people who you may end up working with years down the line.
Furthermore, set up online meetings with people who work in the same field or industry, even if they don’t work in the exact same line of work as you. Chances are, they’ve worked at, or know people at some of the same places you want to get into, they just have different ins and points of contact. They also may have insider knowledge of companies and their personnel, like who you should talk to, and who you should possibly avoid.
This is another time when you need to remember that you have to be your own biggest advocate. Meeting and networking with people are great, but it’s only the start. You need to be determined and unapologetically persistent afterwards. Send follow up emails no later than 24 hours after meeting with someone, and then email again in two weeks if you haven’t heard back when you were expecting a response. It can feel pushy, but it’s an absolute necessity. A job prospect is much more important to you than it is to anyone else, even the employer themselves. So, it is not inappropriate to follow up at reasonable times to check in and stay on their radar. If anything, it will show that you follow through with things and are always cognizant of the big picture..
This is always harder to practice in reality than it is say rhetorically. However, rejection is always a large part of the process. Especially during times of heavy unemployment, as we are in right now, there will be an increase in applicants for almost any job. So, you should be gearing up to experience rejection. The sooner that is accepted, the healthier your outlook will be. Applying for employment is draining in itself, getting down on yourself for getting rejected from job opportunities can make the experience debilitating. But remember the first step: Act. You can’t continue to work proactively if you’re too preoccupied getting down on yourself. In fact, some people set rejection goals. The thought process is, if they get rejected 100 times in a month, then they are putting themselves out there to a degree that will eventually lead to a Yes. And remember, one Yes is all you need. Of course, if you choose this route you need to hold yourself accountable to each application, putting in maximum effort into each one. But even though it seems counter-productive on its head, setting a rejection goal gets you to send out a higher number of applications. It’s a great strategy for some people, but not everyone.
This is true if you’re setting application goals or not, pacing yourself is important for your mental health. As stated many times, we are approaching uncharted territory for unemployment numbers and an unsteady economy. Expect this to be a marathon, not a sprint. Some days you’ll have all the motivation and inspiration you’ll need to jam through application after application with earnest and personal cover letters for each of them, and sometimes you won’t. Some days you just won’t have it. Everyone goes through it, and it’s crucial to be kind to yourself during these times. Set reasonable and rational goals however you see fit, by the day or week, or even month. Then let yourself acclimate to the routine. It’s okay to take a break to eat lunch in front of the TV, go for a walk when you feel like it. You can be your own worst critic, so you have to come to a sensible arrangement with yourself and work from there.
The drawbacks to being unemployed are obvious, we don’t have to list them here. But ask yourself what the silver linings in your current situation are. Do you get to spend more time with your family? Are you grateful you don’t have a daily commute anymore? Maybe you’re now able to take your dog on more walks. Think about what has changed in your life for the good, and remember to appreciate that, not just now, but throughout this whole process. This isn’t to say that you should just sit on the couch and stream TV shows all day, but you should take advantage of what it is you have now that you’re no longer working and be present with it while it’s here.
In conclusion, as long as you work hard and earnestly towards finding employment again, you will get there. Talk to anyone and you’ll hear stories similar to yours. In the meantime, get your financial situation straightened out, cash the unemployment checks, reach out to people, make a schedule for yourself and realize what it is you have now that you didn’t when you were working full time. You’ll be back on your feet before you know it. Trust in yourself.
Allegheny Financial Group | April 2020
The information included herein was obtained from sources which we believe reliable. This report is being provided for informational purposes only. It does not represent any specific investment and is not intended to be an offer of sale of any kind. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.
Allegheny Financial Group is a Registered Investment Advisor. Securities offered through Allegheny Investments, LTD, a registered Broker/Dealer. Member FINRA/SIPC.