How to Handle an Unexpected Job Loss
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Cut backs, merges and downsizing have become part of the daily language used to describe the climate of today’s tumultuous business world. In the unfortunate case that you find yourself facing an unexpected job loss, there are ways to gain immediate relief. Kim van Doorn, owner and managing partner of van Doorn Consulting group, and an expert in finding solutions for career challenges, suggests five tips to handle a sudden challenge. 


Breathe, plan and visualize that this transition will be short term. Talk to an employee assistance expert if you are having a hard time dealing with your job loss. Otherwise, make your new goal determining the next opportunity. If you feel that you’ve been eliminated without just cause, contact your union or an employment attorney. Your rights are protected by the Department of Labor and Equal Employment Opportunity Laws. 


Write down your monthly expenses and determine how long you can cover them. Eliminate nonessential costs and stick to a budget. Possibly extend health coverage (through COBRA) and know your paid vacation time, severance, job placement services, etc. Navigate the unemployment process and calculate the amount that you will receive and for how long. Try not to use your credit cards or a retirement plan that offers a loan or early withdrawals. Consider taking a part time job, and using income-based social services (ie. food stamps).

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Take good care of yourself during this time. Start an exercise program to help with stress. Make sure your resume and LinkedIn page are updated. Search for resources online (at your local library or union) such a books, article and resume writing classes. Communicate what has happened to your family and support system. Let your network know that you are looking for employment. Look for free or low cost courses and seminars to help you acquire new skills. They don’t have to be job search related, and they can be fun, creative, and another good stress reliever.


Decide whether you should immediately look for work, or take time off to figure out what you’d like to do next. You may want to change careers, go back to school or travel. In either case, have a detailed plan and time line for your transition. If taking time off is not an option, begin your search right away. It can take up to nine months to secure a job. Be focused and organized. Schedule your search activities so that there is structure in your day. This includes calls, working on your resume, making networking calls, etc.


Go to your state’s webpage and look up available unemployment resources and services. Enlist the help of unions, job industry recruiters, company career pages, online job boards, friends, connections and career coaches. If you have access to a job placement center (either company sponsored or a local center), counselors can help you navigate the stressful unemployment waters.