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Surviving a Job Loss
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Like five million other Americans, you or someone you’re close to may be singing the pink-slip blues. But losing a job doesn’t have to be all gloom and doom. Sometimes great opportunities can arise from initially discouraging circumstances. Before you panic, take a step back and consider two important questions: How will you pursue a new job, and what are you going to do until you land one?

First, check out your benefits. You may have a variety of unemployment benefits from the job you’re leaving, such as a lump sum payout or a severance package. Talk with the human resources department about your benefits and what you must do to activate them. Immediately acquire the documents you need to receive your government or state unemployment remuneration.

Next, develop a budget. According to recent statistics, it could take a minimum of nine months to acquire another job. Find out what it has been costing you to live per week or month. Then look at areas where you can make your dollars stretch or eliminate unnecessary expenses. Adopt the “use it up, wear it out, make it last” attitude.

Third, plan your debt. If you are in the habit of paying additional money toward the principal of your mortgage, pull back to the minimum payment. Be careful not to add any new debt, such as a home equity line of credit. Remember, debt is a problem, never a solution.

Now for the job search itself. With thousands of people replying to newspaper ads and placing resumes on career websites, consider alternative approaches. Here are four strategies to get you started:

Strategies to Get You Started

1. Donate your time to a local non-profit organization. By involving yourself in the daily operations you get to know the staff, and if you’re reliable you may end up as a new employee. Even if you don’t, volunteering will help you continue to feel useful and productive.

2. Network big time. Make a list of work associates from the last ten years you could contact. Then let them know you’re looking for a new opportunity.

3. Think big. Take advantage of this down time to explore options that may lead a new career. Perhaps this is the time to cultivate your ultimate dream job.

4. Consider moving. While this may seem to be a drastic measure, repositioning yourself to a low unemployment area will reduce the job competition. Look at it as an opportunity to experience another part of the country. Rent out your current home while you discover new opportunities.

Whatever happens, keeping a positive attitude will be to your advantage. And sooner or later your pink-slip blues will change to a new tune.

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By Brenda Dickerson. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

Sources: “How to Survive a Job Loss” Debt Proof Living magazine, April, 2008.
“Yes, You Can Find a Job in Tough Times” Bottom Line Personal magazine, November 15, 2008

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