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Immediate steps to take after a job loss

Not having a job can be hard, and processing the situation may take some time. You’ve lost your source of income and your routine—now what? From filing for unemployment benefits to being forward thinking as you start searching for jobs, keep a level head and start with these next steps.

1. Make the most of your last days of work—be proactive

If you have some time before you officially leave your company, consider some of these tasks to help with a more successful transition.

Review materials and ask questions

Carefully read all materials provided to you upon your separation. Ask about severance, bonuses or commissions, your last paycheck, unused vacation time pay, health insurance, retirement plan, and other benefits.

Find out your actual termination date (for unemployment benefits), and ask if you’re eligible to be rehired and how that might affect your severance.

Use company-provided resources

If your employer offers help with job placement, counseling, or any other resources, be sure to take advantage of them. For example, you may have access to outplacement services, accrued paid time off, and unemployment insurance benefits or medical coverage through COBRA.

Keep track of your logins

For all accounts associated with your employer, like your retirement plan or health insurance plan, keep record of your usernames and passwords so you don’t lose track of them.

Ask for a letter of recommendation

Assuming you’re leaving on good terms, and your manager is willing to give you a letter of recommendation or an endorsement, now is the time to ask for it. Also, ask for copies of performance reviews.

2. Understand your current finances and budget

It might feel a little overwhelming at first but reviewing your day-to-day budget now could be more essential than ever.

Know what you spend

List your essential expenses (housing, food, insurance, transportation, etc.) and your discretionary expenses (takeout meals, subscription services, clothing, etc.), then see if you can cut any expenses to save money.

Assess how long before your savings run out

This can help you build a budget and plan your spending. It might also inform how quickly you’ll need to find a new job, how to prioritize your search. Consider when you’ll need to tap into emergency savings to offset your income.

Negotiate with lenders, landlord, or other creditors

Housing-related costs are often your biggest expense. If you’ve been a good customer, contact your mortgage company, landlord, utility company, credit card issuers, or other household obligations to see if they have any flexible payment options.

3. Research new income sources

Depending on how much savings you have, you may need to start looking for short-term income replacement options while you search for your next job.

Determine if you qualify for unemployment benefits

Each state sets its own eligibility guidelines for unemployment benefits. The first step is to figure out if you qualify. You must:

  • Be unemployed through no fault of your own. For most states, this means you must have separated from your last job due to a lack of available work. Unemployment benefits are generally not available if you quit your job.
  • Meet your state’s wage and work requirements. Your wages earned or time worked is generally based on a period that includes the first 4 out of the last 5 completed calendar quarters before the time your claim is filed.
  • Meet any additional state requirements. Review CareerOneStop, a website sponsored by the US Department of Labor, to find details for your state’s program.
Apply for unemployment benefits

To file for unemployment benefits, you must submit a claim with the unemployment insurance program in the state where you worked. Depending on the state, claims may be filed in person, by phone, or online.

Get creative

If you don’t have much in savings, consider temporary work, a side gig, or asking friends and family for assistance. If you’re in a more urgent situation, consider moving in with friends or family, temporarily renting out a room in your home, or even moving and subletting (if your lease allows) to help until you have steady income again.

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This information is general in nature and provided for educational purposes only.