The job market in the U.S. remains strong overall, but recent high-profile layoffs at technology and media companies and predictions of a recession later this year may have you thinking about job security.
If you’re worried you could be laid off — or if you’ve lost your job — here are recommendations from experts:
If you are concerned you might be laid off
It’s crucial to start building an emergency fund even when you feel secure at your job but especially if you think you might lose it.
You might not be able to save enough to cover the whole time you’ll be out of work, but even a small amount can reduce your stress.
When you start thinking about saving, Jesse Mecham, founder of the money management app YNAB, recommends that you ask yourself this question: What do I want my money to do?
Maybe a year ago, you wanted to save for a large trip abroad, while now you want to have money in case you are out of work for six months.
People “would have a very different answer now than they might have had a year ago when they thought that their job was extremely secure,” Mecham said.
If you are aggressively paying off debt and it’s affecting your ability to save, Mecham recommends slowing down payments. You should still make at least the minimum payment, but you might want to consider temporarily using any money you’re been paying over that to build an extra cash cushion so you have money available should you need it. It’s also crucial to avoid getting into further debt, Mecham said.
Update your resume
It’s always a good idea to keep your resume up to date but, most importantly, keep it customizable for several jobs, said Scott Dobrosky, career trends expert for Indeed. You can do this by leaving space in your resume to include keywords that are specific to the job you are applying for.
Jobs might require slightly different skills if you are planning to stay in the same industry or completely different skills if you move to another field. If you keep your resume updated and customizable, it could make things easier when you need to move on.
Anna Gallo, 33, a tech worker from Middletown, Connecticut, who was recently laid off, found updating her resume was more emotional than she expected.
“Updating my resume after not looking at it since I got my job was surprisingly sad. I had to take time and respect that sadness and wait until I was feeling better so I could do it,” Gallo said.
Gallo now recommends keeping your resume updated even if you don’t expect to be looking for work soon.
Activate your network
Tapping into connections in your industry now is a good idea, said career coach Marlo Lyons. Talking with your friends about possible job openings elsewhere could give you a head start.
Gaining new skills and adding certifications or courses to your resume can be a good way to move up in your current job. If you think you might have to go somewhere else, look for the skills that will make you a stronger candidate, Lyons said. Whether it’s taking a free online course or signing up to get a specific license, upskilling your resume will have positive impacts whether you stay in your current job or have to look for another one.
Popular course websites include Coursera and edX, which offer courses and certifications from universities around the country. They offer some of the courses for free.
If you have been laid off
Prioritize your mental health
Your mental health can be heavily affected after a job loss. Take a breath and let yourself feel the emotions. Prioritizing your mental health will allow you to approach your job search in a better way, Dobrosky said.
For Gallo, putting her mental health first meant that she gave herself a couple of days to feel sad.
“I think everybody needs that time after losing a job. I’m feeling better, even though I’m still extremely disappointed that this is how things turned out,” Gallo said.
Maintain a routine
Keeping some structure in your day will help you with your mental health and with the right cadence of applying to jobs, Mecham said.
Planning your days so they include eating at your usual time, working out or going for a walk and applying for jobs for a certain amount of hours will keep you grounded, he said. Lyons recommends designating a time during the day to start and end applying for jobs.
“Do not over-exhaust yourself with applying to jobs,” Lyons said. “Take time to do activities that make you feel good.”
For Gallo, this has meant getting up, making breakfast, taking a long shower and using her fancy soap, and after her usual work hours, going for walks and still hanging out with her friends.
“I’m trying to not let the fact that I’m not working from nine to five, change what I’m doing with the rest of my day too much,” she said.
Check your benefits
It’s crucial that you understand your compensation package and save any documentation that you need to understand your benefits after you’ve been laid off. Some especially important things to know are your health insurance and dental benefits, Dobrosky said.
Reaching out to your professional and personal network can be helpful, and it’s useful to give some direction to friends and colleagues who want to help, Lyons said.
Examples include asking them to write you recommendations on LinkedIn, recommend you for a job or invite you to a conference for free.
Share your experience
It can be hard to talk about losing your job, and you should only share if you feel comfortable. But sharing can benefit you by allowing you to lean on your support system.
When Gallo shared on social media that she had lost her job, she did it mostly so everyone she knew would find out at the same time. She didn’t expect hundreds of people, some who she knew and some who she didn’t, to reach out offering to help.
“I felt like I was taking the power away from the secret that I had lost my job,” she said. “I found it helpful to do a mass disclosure and also ask for help at that moment.”
Gallo said she felt less isolated since she received encouraging messages and spoke with people with similar experiences.
Apply for unemployment
Applying for unemployment is an option that everyone should utilize, Lyons said. While the amount you get for unemployment might not be as much as your salary, it can help you to stay afloat for some time.
“You’ve been paying into it your entire life, get some of that money back,” Lyons said. “Don’t be shy about it.”
You can learn more about how to apply for unemployment here.
Consider a temporary job
A temporary job is a good option if you can’t afford to be out of work, Dobrosky said. Lyons also recommends temporary jobs and says you should include them in your resume if they showcase skills that match your desired full-time job, such as leadership or organizational skills.
“It shows that you have grit, that you’re willing to work hard and take care of your responsibilities,” she said.
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