Losing your job can be a terrifying, alienating experience. Suddenly, what seemed like a consistent source of income – a reliable way to keep yourself afloat, as well as a mental health boost and a method of socialising – has disappeared. It’s now up to you to get your life back on track, even though it might not have been your decision to leave your workplace. It doesn’t just feel scary to lose a job; it can also feel unfair, as if you’ve been ripped away from something that formed an important part of your identity. Rest assured that you’re far from alone if this happens to you. Here are 7 steps you can take if you do happen to lose your job.
1. Get your finances in order
The first and most important thing to do if you lose your job is to make sure, to as much of an extent as possible, that you’re financially solvent. There are many ways to do this. You could dip into savings; after all, when is that rainy day if it isn’t now? Alternately, you could ask your support network of family and friends for temporary help. If you know you’ll be getting another job soon, you may wish to pursue an unsecured personal loan in order to get a quick cash injection to see you through a short-term financial shortfall. However you do it, just make sure that you have enough money to survive. This can be easier said than done, so don’t be afraid to seek help if you need it.
2. Look after your mental health
Losing a job can have a surprisingly heavy impact on your mental health. Suddenly, something that provided consistency and reliability in your daily routine has vanished, as have many of the people who may have made life easier. While you are unemployed, it’s important to manage your mental health as much as you can. Make a daily action plan each day and try to adhere to it. This way, you’re keeping control in your life and making sure you’re only worrying about the things you can change. Exercise is important, as is maintaining a healthy diet. Mental health is more than just thinking positive; it’s making positive changes in your life, too.
3. Cancel subscriptions or unnecessary payments
When you’re working a steady job, you can often sign up to subscriptions or payments that you know you can easily make. However, most subscription services won’t remind you when your payment term is approaching unbidden; you’ll need to look this information up yourself, and it can end up costing you more than you need to pay. Be sure to comb your bank account for direct debits and other payments that you no longer need to maintain; this could include services like Netflix or Amazon Prime, or other subscription services like HelloFresh or Spotify. While it may hurt to lose these services in the short term, your wallet will thank you.
4. Claim benefits if you can
Unless you’ve got a significant amount of money saved, you’re likely to be eligible for Universal Credit if you’re based in the UK. While the amount you receive isn’t likely to pay for your amenities and living expenses by itself, it’s certainly helpful, so you should make sure you’re claiming it if you can. During the pandemic, the UK government has expanded the terms of Universal Credit, too, so you may be able to claim even if you were previously ineligible. It’s always worth checking out government platforms to see what you can claim, because if your financial situation starts to look a little dire, you may need all the help you can get.
5. Create a strict budget
How you spend your money will be more important than ever if you happen to lose your job. It’s important to create a strict budget that takes all of your spending into account. Examine your bank account and divide payments into essential and non-essential. Once you’ve done this, see if there’s anywhere you could make cuts. Could you swap branded shops for non-branded ones? How about walking instead of driving or taking the bus? It’s also important to be realistic about exactly how much money you have to spend each month. Doing so may be depressing, but it’s also the only way you can make sure you’ve got enough money to survive a difficult time.
6. Keep looking for other jobs
Looking for another job may be the last thing you want to do after losing yours, but the quicker you get back on the job circuit, the fewer questions employers may have about gaps in your CV. You can maintain a job search easily nowadays thanks to readily available job listing sites like Indeed or Reed, so even if you don’t feel like leaving the house one day, you can still look for jobs. Don’t overdo it; you’ll need to add a personalised cover letter to each application as well as tailoring your CV to fit the position, and this can be exhausting if you apply for too many jobs each day. Make sure to prioritise your mental health.
7. Don’t despair
Perhaps the most important step when you lose your job is not to lose hope. There’s always a new opportunity on the horizon, and there’s plenty of help available for people who lose their jobs unexpectedly. Even if your situation looks dire, you should still try to maintain hope as much as you possibly can; it’s healthy for the mind to remain optimistic, even in times of struggle. We know it’s not always going to be easy to think your situation will turn out OK, but try to keep yourself from a self-destructive thought spiral, as it won’t help and will likely only make things worse.