I've Lost My Job. What Do I Do Now? A 30,60,90 Day Plan by Jean Spahr and Krista Redlinger Part 1 of 3

Whether you saw it coming or it caught you by surprise, job loss is a difficult and stressful experience. However, often positive comes from negative -- you may eventually view the job loss as a blessing in disguise. Finding a new job will take effort and organization. Remember to reflect on your skills and goals, breathe, and visualize success. Avoid ruminating on the past or fearing the future. Read Part 1 of our 30-60-90 day plan for an effective job search below. 

 During the first 30 days of unemployment – Safeguard Your Future:

 Week 1 objective: Apply for unemployment, even if you think you do not qualify. Follow instructions. Register at the local workforce center. Begin applying for jobs and keeping a record of your career search.

●      Read the download from the state labor department. If you received a compensation package, explain the details to a counselor at the workforce center and ask them for the best time for you to apply for unemployment.

●        Get organized. Create a print or electronic record keeping system for unemployment communications, contacts and details.

●        Mark important dates/deadlines in a calendar.

●       Create a print or electronic record keeping system for your targeted resumes and cover letters, communications, follow up, etc.

●       Enroll for COBRA insurance or obtain your own individual health plan. Know your health insurance coverage costs, responsibilities and deadlines.


Week 2 objective: Update your job search tools. Many job seekers neglect this process and waste precious time using outdated methods. The professional job search evolves. If it has been more than three years since you searched for a job, contact a professional career coach. 

●       Update your resumes. We recommend using at least two templates. One filled with keywords for applying on employer websites. Another that emphasizes your communication and other advanced skills for use with opportunities found through networking. A one or two page resume is considered ideal, unless you are in higher education and need a curriculum vitae.      

●       Make an appointment with a career coach. Accept help, if your employer offers it to you. Search for career coaches at your workforce center, library, college career services center, place of worship, or professional group. 

●      Alert recruiters of availability on your LinkedIn Profile. Turn the Career Interest switch to on. Complete the popup form. Then turn off the “share changes with network” on your LinkedIn settings. Enter the last date of your employment. Change your LinkedIn profile headline, add key skills or your branding statement, rather than your past job title. Search for forums and groups to join.

●       Find and attend local job seeker support groups to learn current struggles other job seekers face and techniques they have used to overcome them.

●       Strengthen your relationships. Build and maintain your network. Catch up with old friends and colleagues. Search for new professional groups on Meet Up.  

Week 3 objective: Review your finances. Even in a healthy economy, your job search might take longer than you anticipate. Maintain a financial cushion if you can.

●       Monitor cash flow in relation to expenses.

●       Determine areas where you can cut or delay costs. Create a budget.

●      Set aside a realistic amount for job search. If you are an older job seeker, you may have to invest in updating your appearance and wardrobe.

●        Seek and accept assistance, you can pay it forward after you find a job and get back on your feet. While there are numerous community resources for food, clothing and utility assistance, there is much less help for housing, medical and transportation expenses.

●       Younger/entry level professional workers budget for a six month or longer job search. The older/mid-upper management job seeker should plan for a job search that lasts for a year or more.

Week 4 objective: Manage your emotions. We repeatedly hear from job seekers that the most difficult part of the job search is keeping their spirits up so they can stay motivated.

●       Feelings of grief, anger, frustration and fear are normal, but be sure to work through your feelings at an appropriate time and in a safe and supportive environment.

●        What comforts you? What inspires and motivates you? Find methods that work best for you – prayer, meditation, yoga, reading, gardening, cleaning, exercising, socializing, pursuing hobbies, etc. 

●       Purposeful activity can lift your spirits and reduce negative emotions as you look for a job. Set and maintain a daily schedule, exercise, eat healthy foods, and have a bit of fun every day. Be grateful for things that go well each day, e.g., beautiful weather, a pleasant phone call, a delightful television program, a good meal. 

●       Consider volunteering while you look for a job. Helping others increases self-esteem. The experience can also add to your skillset, increase your network and fill employment gaps.  Don’t isolate yourself. Limit the time you spend watching the news, following politics, or interacting on social media. Schedule quality face time with caring family, friends and colleagues. If you suspect you are becoming seriously anxious or depressed, seek help immediately