If you’re one of the people who is watching as jobs in your industry evaporate, no doubt you’re beginning to twitch. Job loss comes with two big stressors. First, there is the financial stuff that you need to figure out. Second, there is the emotional misery that you must wade through. Either piles of poop can sink you so it is very, very important that you keep a cool head.
When you lose your job, apply for Employment Insurance benefits immediately. It can take weeks before you see a penny, so the faster you do this the less time you’ll be scrambling for cash.When job loss leads to debt problems
If you receive a severance, this will affect when your EI benefits kick in. A delay in the start of the claim will result in an extension at the other end by the same number of weeks. Your EI claim can be extended by up to one year. Since severance or separation pay is paid out in a number of different forms and each is handled differently by the EI system, speak to your HR department to get the lowdown on how you’ll be affected.
While you’re at HR, check how long your benefits will remain in place and whether you’ve got any vacation/sick pay coming. If you’re entitled to reimbursement for expenses, file an expense report right away. If your employer is feeling rotten for having to let you go, ask for a glowing letter of recommendation.
Then it’s time to sit down with your family to discuss what’s going to be different. No point in pretending everything is A-OK. Brave and strong you might be, but accepting help when you need it the most from people who love you the most is exactly what family is supposed to be about.
Yes, you should tell the kids. You’ll have to tailor your communication to your children based on their ages. But they’ll overhear the adults talking, they’ll feel the stress and they’ll internalize it if you don’t address it directly. Reassure them that while some things are going to have to change, you are going to do whatever it takes to make sure the family is safe.
Look for ways to reduce your expenses so that you can live within your means until you find another job. This may mean making several budgets. The first may include your severance. Once that ends and you’re relying solely on EI, you’ll need a second budget. If you find work quickly – maybe not the bestest job, but one that keeps food flowing – then you may need yet another budget.
Look in every nook and cranny of your budget for places you can to trim back. Cut your clothing budget completely, except for kid essentials. Ditto entertainment, gifts, and all other non-essential expenses. Trim back on food. Trim way back on communication (telephone, cell, and cable or satellite).
Now that you have less, you must get creative. Is daycare still an option with one partner out of work, or will you swing-shift to take care of the kids at home while upgrading skills and job-hunting? Or will you both take on part-time work to keep the kids in daycare so you don’t lose your spaces?
If you haven’t saved an emergency fund, look for things you can sell to make one. The motorcycle? The ATV? The second car? A line of credit is NOT an emergency fund, no matter what you’ve been told. If you think coping with unemployment is hard, try doing it while making debt repayments. Sure, sure, you’ll eventually get another job. But if you’ve dug yourself a hellovahole in the meantime, you’ll be sorry. Ditto using your credit cards to fill the gap in your cash flow.
Tell everyone you know and everyone you meet that you’re looking for a job. Since many jobs are found by word of mouth, telling people exactly what kind of work you’re looking for is a good way to start. Schedule your day as if you were going to work, make sure you include some socializing time – unemployment can be horrendously isolating – and keep on truckin’.
Yes, it is hard. Yes, the rejection can be soul numbing. But you can’t just give up and hope something will come along. You have a family counting on you. YOU are counting on you.
So get busy. Your next job isn’t going to find you!