Lost your job? Don’t panic!

Guarding your savings is even more crucial if you’ve lost your job, says Dr Finance.
Lost your job? Don’t panic!
(Getty Images)
By Dr Finance
Tue 16 Mar 2010 07:00 AM

If I ask you – “Think of the word ‘recession’ – and tell me what is the first related thought that comes to your mind?” – I am sure most of you would instantly reply – “job loss”.

Our focus today is the immediate steps one can take to conserve your present savings, while methodically searching for a new job.

If you’ve followed my previous post on the Seven strategies to beat the recession , you would have already applied some of the tips that will guide you in case you lose your current job.

But for those who haven’t, here are some steps to help you cope with a job loss. These are more of universal principles and note that all of them may not particularly apply to the UAE where certain specific rules apply if an expatriate loses his/ her job:

Guard against haste

The feeling that you were ‘sacked’ can generate diverse and often extreme emotions: a sense of betrayal (how could my employer do this to me?), shame (how I am going to face the society), fear (how will I feed my family) anger/ hatred (I want to punch/ kick someone), withdrawal (I need too retire somewhere in the Himalayas!)…the list goes on.

But stay calm. Firstly, a job loss is not a dreaded contagious disease, a crime, or a sin – it’s only a phase. And importantly, it doesn’t necessarily reflect badly on ‘your’ abilities and potential as a professional. So don’t panic and take any hasty financial decisions out of desperation.

Your boss and company were forced to take a practical decision to restrict costs and boost incomes and now, SO MUST YOU!

Network hard

Rather than going into a shell, be proactive and contact as many people you know and tell them you’re looking for a job. Be quick on this and set yourself a minimum target for each day.

This is very obvious, yet important to state: put up your CV on job-search websites , mail the HR department of as many firms as you can; hand over the CV personally to organisations if possible (and try to meet the decision maker, in person).

Find out what people who’d lost their jobs did to fight back: benefit from their experiences and avoid their mistakes. In fact, you can benefit from their job hunts – a lot of them may know of openings that they didn’t apply for but suit you fine. This saves a lot of money and time.

Review your skills

Make a list of all the skills that you possess – technical, academic, social, physical, any – and in front of each, list around 3-5 careers that may apply those skills.

For example: communication, management of people, computer graphics, analysing the stock markets, sense of humour, researching, understanding of music etc.

You are good at verbal communication, have a sense of humour and are passionate about music: ever thought of a career in radio?

A lot of employers are looking at potential, rather than past work-profile alone. So be open to applying for jobs in allied careers/ industries. If luck shines, you may embark upon a new career that may pay well too.

Also, you can also explore various ways of supplementing your current income .

Track your industry

Even when you are out of your job don’t lose track of the news in your job industry.

You never know when you may be invited for an interview – you must be able to justify your application – so stay updated and practice your skills (if possible) even when you are out of a job.

Stay in touch with your former bosses and colleagues at the firm where you lost your job: a) They can keep you updated about your job industry and changing work trends b) You’ll know of vacancies within the parent organisation (at the sister firms of the company that you worked for) c) You may be offered some paid freelance work whenever they need it d) If your former boss moves to a new place that’s recruiting or is involved in a start-up venture, he may propose your name: as I said, your job loss was perhaps a result of the circumstances even if your ex-boss always respected your skills.

Also keep a tab on the trends and people in your home country - if you’ve to eventually wind up from the Middle East and return home – it would be easier for you to apply for a job. So stay connected with the skills, salary packages, developments and key contacts in your industry back home.

Consider an internship

Unless you have to spend a lot on travelling, be open to internship/ volunteer work opportunities, till the time you find a new job.

A lot of opportunities are unpaid – so you have a better chance of getting through and learning an absolutely new skill (who doesn’t like a quality professionals who can work for free?).

This also means you have lesser time gaps of unemployment showing up on your CV.

You can network with people in the organisation that you intern for - and if you build a good reputation – you can request the organisation for permanent commission, or get more contacts from the people you meet there.

One suggestion though: try to find an opportunity that can give you adequate time to continue your regular job hunt. Please don’t lose sight of that.

Seek alternative accommodation

Time is ticking and you still haven’t found a job. Your top priority should be to keep your monthly money outflows to the minimum.

Speak to your landlord and explore possibilities of renegotiating the rent terms - I know this is extremely hard but what’s the harm in trying?

See if you can shift to a cheaper accommodation till the dark clouds pass over. If you don’t want to compromise on the location, maybe you can move to a smaller apartment.

Take practical decisions

In case your finances are stretched, you can review your assets, and consider disposing off some the excess stuff for cash. This decision may be unpleasant, but quite practical.

Also, it’s emergency time to eliminate ALL indulgences and save every penny possible. Be stingy and ruthless on yourself if need be, but again, take care of your health.

In case you are an expat with a family, you could take a cut-off point and send some of your non-earning family members back home.

This can reduce your monthly costs for the moment and also mean greater flexibility for you – bring them back when you are in a stable job once again.

Retain your insurance plans:

Treat your life/ medical insurance/ retirement insurance plans premiums as an investment, rather than an expense. The premiums are hardly any amount compared to the returns that they offer. Remember, job loss is only a phase that will soon pass by. So please don’t compromise on the financial arrangement that you have put in place for unforeseen events like accidents and deaths.

Some strategies still apply

Some of the strategies that I have already mentioned in my previous post - Seven strategies to beat the recession - apply more severely in case of job losses.

You must: review your budget and stick to it, refrain from any fresh borrowings/ avoid your debt burden, review your assets and liabilities and speak to your family.

Read these points in greater detail: click here to read

After note: Losing your job can change the way you view your own self and the world, perhaps forever. The key is to soak in the right messages and chuck out the self-deprecating ones.

Wish you luck!!

LET ME KNOW : Did you find the Dr Finance Budget Planner useful? How has it helped alter your spending habits? Do write in to share with your fellow readers.

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