Hindsight 2020: Use These Tips to Recover From Job Loss
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans were familiar with job turbulence. In January 2020, the median employment length for American workers was 4.1 years, and only 2.8 years for workers 25–34.1 Now, in the wake of 2020, millions of job-seekers are working to pick up where they left off, getting back to work and back to normal. Here are some tips for recovering from job loss today:
One of the best ways to recover from job loss is to prepare for it before it happens. This means becoming a world-class saver with the expert-recommended six months of expenses in an emergency account. Additionally, consider disability insurance to protect your income against a health condition that prevents you from working. As we all learned in 2020, getting sick can happen to anyone.
Keep Yourself Afloat
After losing a job, an important first step is to take a full account of your finances. Get real with the numbers: what do you have in savings? What expenses can you postpone? Pre-pandemic, it took an average of six weeks to find a new position.2 As of February 2021, the average length of unemployment was a whopping 27 weeks.3 Update your budget to reflect your new reality. Additionally, consider gig work — within your field or elsewhere — as an income source until you find a more stable position.
Leave No Stone Unturned
Any time you are laid off or downsized from your job, you may be eligible to collect unemployment benefits. If you lost your job due to COVID-19, you may also be eligible for expanded benefits. In addition, the CARES Act, passed in 2020, expanded unemployment benefits eligibility to include freelance and gig workers who otherwise would not qualify. For additional details and to register for benefits, visit the Department of Labor website for your state.
Explain Resume Gaps
After an extended period of unemployment, you may find yourself with a gap in your resume that employers could ask about. Before you begin interviewing for new jobs, it’s a good idea to prepare to talk about this time. If your unemployment was due to COVID-19, simply explain so — most employers will be sympathetic. Regardless, be sure to include any skill-building activities, classes or relevant gigs you undertook during the gap. This can show a potential employer that you took initiative and turned your gap into an opportunity for self-improvement.
Be Prepared for Remote Interviews
Preparing for job interviews is a crucial part of recovery from any job loss, but COVID-19 has added a new wrinkle: many employers are now interviewing candidates remotely via video conferencing software. Many of the best practices for an in-person interview apply to remote interviews as well: wear the same clothes you would in person and have a (digital) copy of your resume handy in case you need to reference it or share it with your interviewer.
Practice Makes Perfect
For a remote interview, try to choose a quiet, well-lit setting where you won’t be disturbed. Ask a friend to help you practice — use this time not only to practice answering questions while looking at a screen but also to familiarize yourself with the software and mechanics of the video call.
Choosing the Right Job Offer
Another crucial step of any interview process is being prepared to evaluate an offer. To do so, you’ll need to look at your entire compensation package — not just salary, but benefits like healthcare, retirement plans, tuition reimbursement, supplemental insurance, flexible time, and others — in the context of your field and position. If this feels like a daunting feat of research, consider talking to a financial professional. They can help you evaluate the entirety of your offer in the context of your financial needs and aspirations — not just whether it’s competitive, but whether it’s the right fit for you.
Remote Negotiation Tactics
A particular challenge of remote interviews: negotiating with a screen. Once you have an offer in front of you (or even before), you may find yourself negotiating over your compensation. If you find it intimidating to negotiate with someone who you can’t “read” in person, you are not alone. Before an interview, make sure to review your salary and benefits research, and prepare written negotiation talking points ahead of time. When the moment comes, stick to the facts and hit your talking points.
Plan for the Unexpected — or Help Others Plan!
Job loss can be unpredictable but planning for job loss is within your power. One way to get help making a plan is to talk to a financial professional — they can help you figure out right way to protect yourself and your loved ones.
And for the job seekers out there, we have one last tip: consider becoming a financial professional yourself! This is an exciting, growing field with the opportunity to make a good living by helping others find financial and emotional confidence.
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2021-120256 Exp 04/23