You lost your job and you’re unsure of what to do next. But you shouldn’t let the devastating news stop you from moving on and finding employment again.
So here are 10 tips to make the transition as smooth as possible:
- Leave your job on good terms
You might be tempted to voice your complaints about getting fired, but hold it in. This is not the end of the world. Be polite and suppress any vindictive feelings.
When leaving the job, carefully review any severance agreement offered to you. Some may ask you to agree not to sue or work for a competitor. But you aren’t required to sign, so only agree with what you are comfortable with.
The same goes for resignation letters. If your former employer asks you to sign one, it might be a way for them to protect themselves legally.
Lastly, consider skipping the exit interview. Again, this may just be a way for the employer to mitigate legal threats. Do what’s in your best interest and only agree to an exit interview if it’s paid.
- File for unemployment
File for unemployment as soon as you can. You may be able to file online, over the phone, or in person.
Keep in mind that each state has its own processes and programs. According to unemployment lawyer Devin Sawdayi, “If you get fired from your job, you may qualify for loss of income protection. Contact your local unemployment office to learn what options you have.”
There’s also no need to be embarrassed about filing for unemployment. Even the best workers can get laid off. So if you’re eligible for benefits, take them.
- Tighten up your budget
Next, tighten up your budget. You’ll probably need to draw from your emergency fund while you’re out of a job, and tightening up your budget will make it go further.
Also, don’t take on any additional debt and cut unnecessary spending out of your budget. This could include unused subscriptions, eating out, and other luxury expenses. The more frugal you can be, the more security you’ll have.
- Explore health insurance options
Sorting your health insurance in between jobs can be tricky. Check with your former employer to see how long you’ll be covered under any previous health, dental, vision, and life insurance benefits.
Once your old health insurance expires, you’ll need to look into new healthcare options. You could try to get on your spouse’s plan, qualify for Continuation of Health Coverage (COBRA) (for up to 18 months), rollover any Health Savings Account (HSA) funds, or find a new plan at www.healthcare.gov.
- Sort your retirement accounts
Chances are you had a 401(k) or 403(b) retirement account with your former employer. Find out the deadline by which you need to transfer your funds to a new account.
Generally, you have 4 options:
- Roll your retirement funds into an IRA account.
- Move them to your next employer’s plan if they allow it.
- Or cash out. But keep in mind that pulling from your retirement account early comes with stiff penalties that significantly reduce your payout.
In some cases when your retirement account balance is low (generally under $5,000), you can also leave the money where it is. Contact your former HR department to see what options are available in your case.
- Update your profile as a job candidate
Now that you’re in the market for a new job, update your profile as a job candidate. This means updating your resume and optimizing your LinkedIn profile so that they are current, succinct, error-free, and good at showing the value you offer. Consider hiring a professional resume writer to help you.
Next, do a background check on yourself. Google your name and see what comes up. If there is anything you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see, get rid of it. You may need to clean up your social media profiles to ensure you make a good impression.
Lastly, check your credit. Some private employers check your credit history to see if you are a responsible job candidate. You can request a free credit report from the three major consumer credit reporting agencies—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion—at AnnualCreditReport.com. If there are eny errors, dispute them.
- Get references
In business, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. So get references to help you land your next job.
Start by telling people you lost your job. But don’t do it in a self-pitying way. Just say you were laid off and are looking for a particular role in a particular industry. This will help you get over the embarrassment and find leads and referrals.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’d be surprised at how many people would be happy to refer you, but they won’t if you don’t ask.
- Look for jobs
Of course, you should also actively look for jobs. Check out job listings on sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and ZipRecruiter. Narrow down your search by using advanced search criteria. That way, you don’t waste time on job postings you’re not interested in.
You can also check local job boards. Your city might have a bulletin board with job ads or even its own website with listings.
- Practice your interview skills
While you’re looking for jobs, practice your interview skills. It may have been a while since you last had a job interview, so it’s important to practice.
Roleplay with a friend or colleague. Try to make the scenario as realistic as possible by wearing the appropriate outfit and doing it in a professional setting. This way, you’ll be less nervous when it’s time for an actual interview.
- Look on the bright side
Finally, look on the bright side. It’s easy to get discouraged by a job loss or subsequent job rejections. But your dream job may be just around the corner.
Remember that every “no” brings you closer to a “yes.” So be persistent and know that losing your job may have been an opportunity in disguise. Your next position might be a better fit with better pay, benefits, and work-life balance. Keep working hard to find out.