9 Tips To Overcome Unexpected Unemployment

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If you are among the millions of Americans who have faced unexpected unemployment due to the COVID-19 outbreak, you are probably experiencing a whirlwind of emotions. With layoffs, furloughs, and unemployment rates continuing to rise, it is perfectly normal to feel anxious, scared, angry, or defeated. If you are wondering what to do and where to turn, take a deep breath and know that we’re here to help guide you through this process during this challenging time.

When life gives you lemons…

“Making lemonade” during a stressful time might not feel realistic for the immediate future. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t recover like a pro and come back even stronger than you were before.

Expert tip: Though becoming unemployed might have been out of your control, you still have 100% control over how you respond.

Tips for facing unexpected unemployment

If you have unexpectedly become unemployed, follow the 9 tips below to get back in the game:

1) Acknowledge your emotions, and then push forward.

Getting laid off or furloughed really, really stinks and it’s ok to be upset. Whether you saw this coming or it completely caught you off-guard, this kind of news is a hard pill to swallow. Do not bury your feelings.

Whether you need to cry it out, go for a few long runs (while social distancing), or bake 15 batches of cupcakes, do whatever you need to in order to acknowledge your emotions during this change. Then, pick yourself up, and move forward.

2) Talk to your family, friends, and professional network

Have an open and honest conversation with your loved ones, friends, and professional network. Though it might be challenging to discuss initially, the people closest to you can provide immense amounts of support.

3) File for unemployment

Go to your respective state’s Department of Labor website and file for unemployment benefits. It can take some time before these are available, so it is very important to get the ball rolling by filing as soon as possible.

4) Research health insurance options

Find out what your health insurance options are and what works best for you (and your spouse and children, if applicable). For some newly unemployed individuals, sometimes there is an option to continue to use your former employer’s health insurance plan temporarily. Others might choose to sign up for independent short-term insurance while you get your ducks in a row. There are lots of options, so do not risk a lapse in coverage by waiting.

5) Assess your finances

A change in your regular paycheck means a change in your regular budget. Assess your finances and create a new budget immediately.

6) Create a new routine

Just because you are not working does not mean you should abandon your agenda. Create a new, consistent routine where you set aside time for specific, achievable, action items that you want to accomplish every day.

7) Network as much as possible

According to a survey on LinkedIn, about 85% of jobs are filled via networking. Email and call your contacts, and strike up as many conversations as possible (even with strangers!) in order to get your name out there.

8) Learn, grow, develop

Take this time to work on you. Update your LinkedIn profile, enhance your resume by acquiring new skills and getting a certification, or read that stack of books that you’ve been meaning to pick up for the last couple of years. There are always steps you can take to continue learning and bettering yourself.

9) Stay in touch with ALL contacts

Continue to touch base with all of your contacts, old and new. By remaining on people’s radar, then they will think of you when a new position pops up.

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Actionable Steps


Don’t panic, and stay positive

First thing’s first: take a deep breath and try to relax. Though this is a stressful time, you WILL get through it. Remind yourself: Though becoming unemployed might have been out of your control, you still have 100% control over how you respond.


Complete the 9 tips listed in this article

Revisit this article as many times as you need to and check off each item as you complete them.


Be patient

Change is hard. Give yourself time to adjust to your new “normal” as you set your new routine.


Read more on this topic

You can learn more about tips to overcome unexpected unemployment by reading and watching the following articles and videos, reviewed to be the best by our professionals: What to do if you find yourself suddenly unemployed, How To Survive A Layoff, and How To Deal With An Unexpected Job Loss.

About the Author

Dr. Alyssa Harmon-Salter

Dr. Alyssa Harmon-Salter

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

Alyssa holds an Ed. D. in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. For the last 7 years, she has coached hundreds of college students on how to be successful academically and in prepping for a job.
Full Bio | LinkedIn

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