Being fired can be a very stressful event, particularly if you are the sole breadwinner in the household. The key to getting back on your feet is to take positive action immediately rather than sulking on the couch and feeling sorry for yourself. What you do in that first week after being fired can determine how well you come out of the situation.
Assess Your Situation
The first thing to do when you lose your job is take a look at where you’re at. First, assess how much you have in savings. Then you will need to work out how much you’re spending every month, both on fixed expenses (mortgage, rent, etc.) and flexible ones (groceries, gas, etc.), so you know exactly where you stand financially.
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Finances in your 40s and 50s has some excellent advice for all ages when you’ve lost your job.
- Housing Expenses. Whether you pay rent or a mortgage, you may need to renegotiate your terms. In the case of a mortgage, you can usually get lower payments in exchange for a longer term. Rent may be less flexible, but now is the time to talk to your landlord if you will have problems handling rent in the next few months.
- Direct Payments. While direct payment of bills may be convenient when you have a job, it’s a good way to lose track of how much money you have when you’re tightening your belt. Discontinue any direct payments and you will be more flexible in payment dates, which is important when you are juggling several bills with no job.
- Stop Investing. Any automatic payments into an investment account or college savings account should be halted for the time being. Focus on paying the bills first.
- Temp Work. Even if you register for unemployment, you can usually earn some money via a temp job without losing your benefits. Check with your state unemployment laws and then find a job that fits. This will give you a little extra cash to make ends meet until you can land a better position.
- Reduce Spending. Pay with cash only to avoid racking up credit card debt and focus on spending as little as possible. This is only temporary, remember, so you can stop eating out, buy store-brand cereal, and avoid any luxury items for the time being. Even spending $5 less a day can add up over time and help with more necessary expenses.
If things are looking bleak and your savings are too low to make it through the end of the month, you will need to consider other options. Selling belongings may help you temporarily, or if you have a spouse or family member with a job, a payday loan can give you enough to survive for a few weeks, giving you time to get a job, even if it’s only a temporary one.
Start Preparing for Your Next Job
According to Paula Forman, author of The Hourglass Solution, you should write a new resume and have a trusted friend critique it for you. This is a positive step forward, and you will be ready to start job hunting immediately.
In order to create a new resume, take a look at examples online. This is particularly important if you have been in the same job for many years, as things may have changed. You will also need to make sure you have up-to-date references. A good way to add more references is to look for volunteer or temp jobs, or you can simply contact older employers and find out if they are still willing to put in a good word for you.
Ariane de Bonvoisin, author of The First 30 Days: Your Guide to Any Change, suggests going through all your social media and online profiles to make sure they are employer worthy. Remove any risque photos or complaints about work and make sure everything is updated and positive. You should also Google yourself to see what a potential employer might see, even if you can’t necessarily change anything.
Don’t Feel Sorry For Yourself
Wallowing in self-pity will do you absolutely no good, so leave that behind and start moving forward. Forman offers some good advice: Get out of the house every day. When you’re not working, it’s easy to stay in your pajamas and hang out watching soap operas and talk shows, but it will be better for your mental health to continue dressing each day and leaving the house. This also gives you needed stimulation. A good way to encourage yourself to get out and about is to take a yoga class or make an exercise date with a friend for the gym. Avoid complaining to everyone you meet about your lack of a job. A positive attitude can get you a lot further and may even impress someone enough to recommend you for a position.
Getting fired is never fun, but it doesn’t mean the end of the world, either. Getting back on your feet is possible, and it’s easier the sooner you do it, so don’t waste your time moping around. Make a plan, assess your situation, and take measures as necessary, and then get back on the job hunting course.