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Updated on Monday, March 21, 2016
Losing your job is never fun. Along with the uncertainty about the future, there are lots of questions that undoubtedly need to be answered in the present, and a few things that probably need to be taken care of to tie up any lose ends. Since your mind might be racing if you were just recently let go, we’ve put together a list of some of the more important things to consider as soon as you possibly can.
Task 1: Chat with your former boss about the specifics
Depending on the circumstances surrounding why you lost your job, it may be possible to discuss with your boss a way that you can separate with the company on neutral terms so that you can still feel comfortable using people there as a reference and explaining to future employees why it is you left your last job. Getting laid off for financial reasons for a job is not that uncommon these days, and while that’s unfortunate, at least in that particular circumstance the reason surrounding your dismissal had nothing to do with your skills or professionalism. If, however, you were let go for other reasons, it’s important to have a firm understanding of why exactly you’re being let go and what, if anything, you can learn from the experience and use to your benefit.
Task 2: File for unemployment
Every state will have different rules when it comes to unemployment benefits and who qualifies for them, but it’s important to look into this as soon as possible after being let go of a job so you can start to get an idea for how much you’ll be covered once you stop receiving a paycheck. You can check out this Bureau of Labor Statistics page to get a general idea for what unemployment rates are based on state.
Task 3: Decide what you’re going to do about your health insurance
COBRA insurance — which allows you to essentially stay on the current health care plan that your company has been providing you — is a good option to remain covered, but it can be costly. That’s because when you lose your job, employers usually stop paying for their share of your insurance premiums, meaning you’re now on the hook for the entire thing. Find out what your COBRA options are at work, and determine if it’s worth going that route or getting your health insurance plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Even if you lose your job during a time when open enrollment is closed, you could qualify for a special enrollment period under the ‘loss of health coverage’ provision, provided you apply within a certain amount of time (generally within 60 days).
You’ll need to complete task two and three before you can move on to task four.
Task 4: Get your finances in order
After you determine how much you’ll be bringing in from unemployment and how much you’ll need to pay out of pocket for health insurance coverage, you can start to determine what your new monthly budget might look like. Even if a new job is on the horizon and you doubt you’ll be unemployed for very long, you never know what might happen, so it’s a good idea to take stock of your finances and determine just how long you can pay your bills without a job, if need be. (If budgeting has never been your thing before, check out this piece for four easy strategies to on how to put one in place.)
Task 5: Update your resume and portfolio
Once your finances are in order and you’ve discussed the details surrounding your job lose with your boss, you can move on to finding a new one. Before doing so, take some time to update anything that’s important regarding your career, including your resume, portfolio, any websites or LinkedIn pages, business cards, etc.
Task 6: Reach out to your colleagues and any industry contacts
After you’re sure all the information that’s available online about you is current and accurate and you’ve updated any relevant business materials, you can move on to reaching out to former colleagues and industry contacts to let them know you’re on the market. It’s not a bad idea to also check out any local networking events that might be taking place (if you do plan on doing this, check out this piece for advice on how to network like a pro) or consider taking some classes to keep your skills up-to-snuff if you’re not sure how long unemployment will last.
Once you’ve completed all these tasks, if it still looks like prospects for a new job are months — if not more — away, you might start considering if getting a part-time job or doing some freelance on the side can help you make it through in the meantime.