“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” or so the Christmas song goes. But December is also a time when struggling companies often trim their work forces. That’s ho-ho-horrible for those losing their jobs.
Bennett Blackledge, branch sales and operations manager for Gulf Coast Bank and Trust, has tips for those who suddenly find themselves unemployed.
One of the most important, he said, is attitude.
“You’ve got to stay positive,” Blackledge said. “You’ll find work again. Stay around positive people.”
Aside from the hit one’s ego takes from getting let go, finding a job — sending out résumés, going to interviews, rejections — can be a grind, especially as bills keep coming. That’s more reason to keep your spirits up.
“You’ve got to have self-confidence,” Blackledge said. “You’ve got to feel good about yourself, and losing a job is not the worst thing that can happen. In most people’s cases, they end up finding better (jobs). Don’t be discouraged.”
Two other highly important things to do are to rework your budget and talk to your banker, Blackledge said. Budget work should start with cutting spending.
“You’ve got to look at everything — cable, how many phones you have? Do you need a house phone because you’ve got a cell phone? Just look at all of it. You want to try and downsize some of these costs. You want to go through the budget with a fine-toothed comb. Know where every dollar goes.”
For most people, the biggest expenses are mortgages and car loans. It’s important not to miss payments, because those adversely affect credit scores, which makes future borrowing more expensive.
Talk to your banker. Ask about getting the payment delayed for a few months while you look for a job. Financial institutions will be more likely to do this for car loans and home equity loans than with mortgages, which involve larger amounts of money, but ask. The interest will continue to accumulate, but this will avoid black marks on your credit reports.
“One late payment takes you 24 months to make it up — people don’t realize that — to gain what you lost,” the banker said.
Blackledge offers these job-hunting tips:
Reflect on why you lost your job. “Was it something you didn’t have — education, training? It may have been nothing on your part. But, sometimes, it is. You take that time to figure out what you need to do. If it was a performance-education issue, you want to make sure that you figure that out, work on it.”
File for unemployment. The payments will be much less than your salary was, but will still help make ends meet.
Take part-time work. It may pay better than unemployment.
Figure out your health insurance. Enroll in COBRA or get an individual health insurance plan, even though it will likely cost more than your old plan. Even healthy people have unexpected medical calamities that can create ruinous debt without insurance.
Update your r é sum é . Make sure it’s current and concise. Most prospective employers won’t read more than one page.
Clean up your social media profiles. Make sure you haven’t been tagged in any inappropriate photos on sites like Facebook, and get rid of any unseemly comments friends have put on your page. Consider setting your page to private.
Evaluate your career direction. It may be time to find a field where there is more demand, or something that better fits what you’d like to do.
Make finding a job your full-time job. Look for job openings every day. Check companies’ websites, the newspaper’s employment ads and sites like monster.com regularly.
Network. Talk to people you know in your profession to let them know you’re looking. Attend networking events to connect with new people.
Learn new skills. If there is a seminar or community college course that makes you more marketable, take it. An updated skill set improves the chances of getting hired.
Declutter. Go through your house and sell, donate or throw away things rarely used. “When you get organized, you get structure. A lot of times just going through and doing that allows you to clear your head, and as you’re interviewing you’re on your best and present (yourself) much better.”
Stay healthy. Don’t get in a rut. Get in an exercise program. Improve your eating habits. You’ll feel more confident.