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Personal Finance FAQ

What should you do immediately after getting laid off?

Dallas, Texas based certified financial planner Jason Hull recommends having a short term and a long term plan if you recently lost your job because of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • To do in the next 24 hours:
    • File for unemployment. It’s critical to get the flow of income coming in as soon as you can. You can go to the U.S. Department of Labor Unemployment Insurance website to find out who to contact.
    • Notify your mortgage company or your landlord and begin to work out terms if you will be unable to pay them. If you are able to pay without jeopardizing your personal welfare, try to do so, as you’ll eventually have to pay back what you’ve deferred. However, if you have a home equity line of credit, tap that first, as that will give you extra cash to try to weather the storm.
    • Talk to your credit card company and utilities about deferring payments. Again, only do this if necessary, as this action could hurt your creditworthiness long term.
    • Get health insurance. In most cases, while your employer may offer COBRA, it is often an expensive health insurance option. Go to the healthcare exchange at healthcare.gov and see what your options are.
  • To do in the next week:
    • Revisit your budget. I recommend going through 12 months of credit card bills and scouring every expense item. Do the same with your bank statement. You’ll often find that you’re spending unnecessarily on things.
    • Stop all subscriptions, bar one. That gym you wanted to support will have to make it without you, because you have to look out for yourself first. I say bar one because you probably will want to have some entertainment. While you can get free books at the public library, if, for example, you’re already a cable subscriber, keeping your Netflix or Amazon Prime subscription will help you lessen the shock of cutting the cord.
    • Update and optimize your LinkedIn profile and reach out to close contacts. People want to help you, but they have to know that you need help for them to be able to help you.

  • After the first week:
    • Reach out to weaker connections. Research shows that most people find jobs through people with whom they’re not normally in contact, so make it a point to schedule discussions and outreaches with people who aren’t really in your first circle of contacts.
    • Give yourself a schedule and achievable goals towards getting the next job. When I ran my software company, I gave myself a daily scorecard to fill my sales funnel. Getting your next job is like sales: the more prospects you connect with, the more likely you are to land what you’re looking for.
    • Stay connected. Losing your job is a traumatic event. Therefore, it’s important to keep with your social and spiritual networks to help you through the trauma. Don’t just go into a bonbon eating binge and hide from the world. All it will do is destroy your ego, which will make those job interviews that much harder.
    • Look for temporary gigs. If you have to drive for Uber or Doordash, so be it. Look for companies like Amazon that are hiring to meet the surge. If you need the money, no job is too menial.

You need to treat finding the next job like your full-time job. Unfortunately, in the coronavirus environment, there are plenty of people who have lost jobs and few openings, so you’re really going to have to be persistent and confident while taking care of your personal expenses. It’s not easy, but it is a surmountable obstacle.

By Jason Hull, CFP®

Jason Hull, CFP®, was the co-founder of Broadtree Partners, a firm that acquires $1-5MM EBITDA companies. He also was the co-founder of open source search consultancy OpenSource Connections, a premier Solr and ElasticSearch firm. He and his wife FIREd (financial independence retire early) at 46 and 45, respectively. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and a MBA from the University of Virginia Darden Graduate School of Business.

You can read more about him in the About Page.

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