Today’s topic, losing a job, may soon become very relevant to many Americans. The most recent news on the job loss front is the bankruptcy filing of Circuit City and the closure of 20% of their stores. This may end up being small potatoes if we see the bankruptcy of Ford and General Motors. Some analysts suggest that 10% of the entire American workforce is somehow tied to the auto industry. This includes everything from manufacturing to local dealerships and all of the people employed by auto parts suppliers as well. I don’t know very many people right now that feel safe and secure in their job, regardless of where they work or how long they have been employed there. Today, 7 Strategies For Surviving a Job Loss.
1. Even If You Have A Job, Start Looking At The Employment Listings Now
My good friend and Editor-At-Large of Christian Money.com, Robert Yetman, shared with me that his dad had counseled him to make it a habit to read the employment ads in the newspaper each Sunday. There is a lot you can learn about the economy and the job market by simply following the employment classifieds. Which industries appear to be expanding and which are contracting? What new jobs are becoming available due to new technology? Is your own industry hiring people or not? These are all questions that should be of interest to anyone clinging to their job in these uncertain times. Who knows, you might find something better than your current job by simply keeping your eyes open.
Another benefit gained by keeping an eye on the employment market is the opportunity to consider getting trained for a new field. A friend of mine a few years back went through a two year program to become a respiratory therapist. He took classes at night at our local community college and he now earns over $100,000 a year in this field. There are many careers like this that can be launched with just a one to two year education. The economy is changing and if you don’t adapt you will certainly be left behind, good economy or bad.
2. Keep Copies Of Your Important Personal Documents And Records At Home
Many people today keep one Rolodex file on their desk in their office. They also have their personal e mail addresses stored on their employer provided computer. One thing is for sure; if you lose your job you will need access to your list of contacts to help you in your job hunt. Remember, you do not have any legal right to make copies of your employer’s records, including clients lists and other trade secrets. You may even be prosecuted for taking this information with you after your employment ends. On the other hand, many companies are handling employment terminations in a very abrupt manner. One friend of mine told me about a meeting he and ten co-workers were asked to attend. In the meeting they were all informed that they were immediately being terminated. They all rushed backed to their desks to find them locked, and their computer passwords changed! They were not allowed to access their computers, even to make copies of personal information. A few minutes later they were escorted from the property by security officers. This was a routine down-sizing, and many of these computer programmers had been faithful employees for years. Nonetheless, the company did not want to take any chances and treated these employees like criminals when they were terminated. The lesson here; keep copies of your personal stuff at home and don’t count on being able to access it if you are let go.
3. Can You Negotiate A Severance Package
While you are in your strongest position to get a severance benefit when you are being hired and initially negotiating your employment contract, it may not be too late to ask for some help from your employer. Larger companies routinely offer severance benefits, while mid and small size companies may do so on a case by case basis. I have employed hundreds of people over the years and I have always extended a few weeks of severance pay to help them to make a transition when they were let go. If your company does not offer you any severance benefits, you may simply want to bring up the issue. A few weeks to a few months of salary as well as the continuation of insurance benefits may be possible if you ask for them. The worst thing that can happen is that your employer says no, which puts you in no worse of a situation than you were in before.
4. Health Insurance Options After You Lose Your Job
Under federal law you have the right to continue your health insurance coverage for 18 months (COBRA). It is important that you understand that although you are able to continue your coverage, you must pay 100% of the cost. This means that any portion of the coverage currently being subsidized by your employer will have to be paid for by you.
Many employees find it very difficult to continue their prior health insurance coverage. Without a job, continuing your big company benefits at your own expense may just not be feasible. You may want to opt for a major medical policy with a high deductible of $2,500 or more. While this is not ideal, it may be a way for you to maintain some level of protection that you can afford. I recommend www.ehealthinsurance.com for health insurance shopping. You may also want to investigate if your state has any insurance pools for self employed individuals. These risk pools allow the self employed to purchase medical insurance as a group and can make coverage more affordable. To be considered self employed, many times all you need is to prove that you have had a business license for 90 days. Getting a business license, and perhaps even starting some kind of a part time business, could give you a source of additional income as well as access to discounted medical insurance.
5. Create A Survival Budget
You may be someone that has lived without a budget up until this point. Believe me, if you don’t have a budget you will definitely need one once you lose your job. You need to go into a survival mode. People I know have cancelled everything they absolutely don’t need. This includes cable TV, satellite radio in their car, the kids music lessons, the gym membership, any planned vacations, etc… One friend of mine went on a diet of Top Ramen and cheese sandwiches. He did this for several months. He told me recently that he would not mind it if he never had another bowl of Top Ramen for the rest of his life! For now, imagine you are the star of your own episode of Survivor. No matter what, you simply can not let yourself run out of money before you find your next job. I would sit down with a very sharp pencil and figure out what you can cut, and how much money you have coming in. You may be eligible for unemployment benefits, food stamps, and other government assistance. Nonetheless, you will run out of money very quickly. According to recent statistics, most people don’t even have enough money to make it for one month after a job loss without some outside assistance.
6. Take Whatever Work You Can Get
About 15 years ago, a friend of mine lost his job as the news anchor of our local CBS TV station. He was out of work for about six months and could not find another news job. He called me looking for employment. I hired him to work with me on my TV show, but that was only a part time gig. Ultimately I told him that the only full time job I could offer him was as a telemarketer. He would show up at 9 am each day and sit in a small work station and answer the phone taking orders for my books and tapes! Every time I walked into the telemarketing office in my complex, I could not believe that this well known TV anchor was sitting there answering the phone. There is a lesson in this for all of us. Set aside your pride and take whatever work you can get until you can find the work that you want. One of my pastors while I was growing up in Chicago asked me where I was working (during my high school days). I sheepishly told him that I was making hamburgers at a local fast food restaurant. I will never forget what he told me. He said, “Don’t ever be ashamed of a hard day of honest work.” That has stuck with me all these years. After going broke about six years ago, yours truly took whatever work he could get. I worked as a clerk in my sister’s mortgage office, I made a few extra bucks cleaning the office and doing some repairs after hours. I even got a license to drive a taxi, although I never ended up doing so. Set your pride aside and you will find a way to keep some level of income coming in.
On the subject of job hunting, be sure and get up to date on the latest methods of finding employment using the Internet. There are some great books on this. These books cover the various online job search sites as well as creating an online resume’.
Here are some of my favorites:
Best Job Search Sites:
7. Protect Your Family With Multiple Sources Of Income
My own bankruptcy taught me a valuable lesson. Now, I do not rely on any one source of income to support my family. My popular Internet training program teaches people how to develop multiple income streams from the Internet. In most families, even with two income earners, it does not take much for a financial collapse. Most two income homes absolutely need both incomes just to make it through the month. We are teaching Christian families how to set up online businesses that will generate multiple paychecks each month. Whether you use my training, or develop backup sources of income from other opportunities, now is the time to establish your financial safety net.
Helping you make the most of God’s money!